The NHRA tour returns to the “Bellagio of dragstrips” this weekend for its Circle K Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway in Concord, NC
Given the nickname for its high-class facilities, top drivers said they’re excited for the race weekend in NASCAR’s backyard.
“Coming to tracks that are massive like this is so much fun,” Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher said. “We’re in a race town, kind of like Indianapolis, where a town’s built around racing, you just love coming here. The fans are fantastic. The stadium itself is second to none.”
The four-wide format started at zMAX in 2010 and has since grown into a popular motorsports event with three days of racing packed onto the dragstrip April 29-May 1.
Qualifying for pro categories starts at 4 pm Friday followed by a second round of qualifying at 7:30 pm On Saturday, the first round of pro category qualifying starts at 1 pm followed by a second round at 4:30 pm On Sunday, eliminations begin at noon after a track walk and opening ceremonies. Finals for premier classes, Top Fuel and Funny Car, are slated to start around 4:50 pm on Sunday. A full weekend schedule can be found here. The broadcast will be on FS1.
NHRA names to know
Tea defending four-time world champ in Top Fuel has won the past four four-wide races at Charlotte, but Torrence is still aiming for a first win this year in his class. Torrence, driving for Capco Racing/Torrence Motorsports, sits 32 points behind leader Brittany Force, who won this year’s four-wide event at Las Vegas.
The current Top Fuel points leader is looking to win another four-wide event, this time at Charlotte to complement her four-wide win at Las Vegas. She’s coming off consecutive victories in her class, and is so far the only two-time event winner this year going for three in a row. Force is the daughter of NHRA champion driver and car owner John Force, who competes in Funny Car. Other 2022 Top Fuel winners: Justin Ashley, Mike Salinas and Tripp Tatum.
Schumacher seeking his first win at a four-wide race. The son of NHRA legend Don Schumacher is working with new team members driving the Maynard Family/Scag Power Equipment Top Fuel dragster. He’s been in several four-wide finals, but aiming for a first win in a competitive field.
“There was a time when four or five cars were great and everyone else was left in the back of the pack,” Schumacher said. “It’s just not like that anymore, (especially) when you have cars four. … The last time I ran a four-wide, I was qualified in the middle of the pack and I had to beat Salinas and Antron (Brown). I mean, c’mon!”
NASCAR fans are probably familiar with the name since Pruett is married to NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart. Pruett is the driver for Stewart’s NHRA team, which is in its first year with Pruett driving in Top Fuel and Matt Hagan in Funny Car.
Hagan is the current Funny Car points leader, sitting 60 points ahead of Robert Hight. Both Hagan and Hight each have won multiple Funny Car events this year. Hagan is a three-time Funny Car champion (2011, ’14, ’20).
Hagan might be a three-time champion, but Capps is the defending Funny Car title-holder. He announced on Thursday his move to Toyota Gazoo Racing North America (TGRNA), which marks a new manufacturer for his Ron Capps Motorsports team. He’s in his first season for the team he’s running as driver and owner, and said he’ll race his Toyota GR Supra for the first time ever this weekend.
“A lot of nerves right now,” Capps said. “But it’s a good feeling. I’m very excited. Obviously, a few things have happened the past few months. Going out on my own, (but) having the support of people around me has been unbelievable.”
Capps won his class at the Vegas four-wide nationals this year and is looking to do the same at Charlotte, joining the Toyota family that includes other top Funny Car drivers JR Todd and Alexis DeJoria.