NHRA Nitro Stars Look For Legacy-Making Win At Prestigious US Nationals In Indianapolis

Story By: NHRA – INDIANAPOLIS, IN – As the four-time defending Top Fuel world champion, Steve Torrence knows all about racing in big moments. But none of them can top winning at the prestigious 68th annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals, which takes place this weekend at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.

It’s the world’s biggest drag race and Torrence, who also won the most recent NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series event in Brainerd, has a pair of U.S. Nationals triumphs to his credit, including last year in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster. This year could be even bigger for the 52-time event winner, as he’s also in the semifinals of the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout specialty race. That started in Gainesville and is now down to the semifinals, where points leader Brittany Force, Torrence, Mike Salinas, and Justin Ashley will square off on Saturday for the $80,000 prize before eliminations on Sunday.

It’s a chance at another spectacular memory for Torrence, who will be hard-pressed to top how special last year’s win was at the Big Go.

“I won it last year with my little girl and that’s the most memorable win I have. It’s the grandaddy of them all and the big one you want to win,” said Torrence, who is third in points. “You can do all the things, but if you don’t win Indy, you don’t have a full career. To share that with my daughter before she was (one year-old), that was special. I look forward to going there every year and that’s what signifies a legend. (Tony) Schumacher, Big Daddy (Don Garlits), everybody who is somebody has dominated Indy. I’m not there yet, but hopefully I can get there someday.”

Torrence (Top Fuel), Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all picked up wins a year ago at the Big Go. This year’s race will be broadcast on both the FOX broadcast network and Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including live eliminations coverage starting at 12 p.m. ET on Monday, Sept. 5 on FS1 and continuing at 2 p.m. on FOX. It is the 16th of 22 races during the 2022 season and the final race before the Countdown to the Championship.

It all looks to be perfect timing for Torrence, especially with the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout on Saturday and points-and-a-half on the line at Indy. A big weekend could send him to second in points headed into the playoffs, which would be plenty of momentum to make a fifth straight world title within reach.

But the Texan is solely concentrated on this weekend because, well, it’s Indy. With a huge 25-car Top Fuel field and a standout list of competitors, including Force, Salinas, Ashley, 10-time event winner Tony Schumacher, Antron Brown and Leah Pruett, Torrence knows he’ll have his hands full. But he’s also well aware how meaningful it is if you’re able to outlast everyone at the Big Go.

“You go there with a different mindset to try and win Indy,” Torrence said. “You couldn’t win a race all year, but you could win Indy and it would make your season. I’m excited to go there because I’ve got a good car. Indy is Indy and only true drag racers understand that. When you win Indy, it’s a big one.”

In Funny Car, Matt Hagan is after the win at his sponsor’s race as he also gears up for a run at a fourth world championship. A second U.S. Nationals win would certainly help the cause and Hagan has the chance to make it a monumental weekend as well. The standout driver of the 11,000-horsepower Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat is also set to compete in the Pep Boys NHRA Funny Car All-Star Callout, pitting him against seven other star drivers on Sunday in a unique specialty race.

That leads right into eliminations, which means plenty will be on the line on multiple days for Hagan, who has three wins this year. Joining him in the callout is points leader Robert Hight, who has six wins, Ron Capps, Cruz Pedregon, Bob Tasca III, who has wins in three of the past four races this year, John Force, Alexis DeJoria, and Tim Wilkerson, who is the defending event winner at the Big Go. Those same names will be among Hagan’s chief challengers during eliminations on Monday and Hagan has a strong sense of what winning the U.S. Nationals does for a driver’s career.

“I’ve won Indy before and it’s a really special, magical feeling when you do that,” Hagan said. “Indianapolis is one of those races you never want to leave the sport without winning. It’s just a lot of excitement and buildup through a long week for everybody. We definitely want to pull it down and have it be a win in the Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car at our sponsor’s title race. It’s going to be a big race and I feel like we’re still moving in the right direction with this car.”

Enders has reigned supreme in Pro Stock at the prestigious U.S. Nationals the past two seasons and the four-time world champ has been dominant thus far this year, winning six times. Her challengers include reigning world champ Greg Anderson, who has six Indy wins and 99 career victories, Aaron Stanfield, 2016 winner Chris McGaha, reigning NHRA Rookie of the Year Dallas Glenn, Kyle Koretsky, Troy Coughlin Jr., who has won the last two races this year, Matt Hartford, Bo Butner, and rookie Camrie Caruso.

Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Angelle Sampey has enjoyed a terrific 2022 season as she aims for her fourth world championship. She is also after her fourth Indy win, as is Krawiec, who is the reigning event winner. But the competition is stiff with points leader Joey Gladstone, who has back-to-back victories this year, defending world champ Matt Smith, Steve Johnson, who has a pair of Indy wins, and Angie Smith.

Drivers in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by D-Wagon will also look to become winners at the prestigious event. The fastest Super Stock cars will challenge for ultimate bragging rights and a bonus purse during the popular Dodge HEMI Challenge as well.

Racing in the NHRA Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series will also take place in Indy, along with the popular Constant Aviation NHRA Factory Stock Showdown category and Mountain Motor Pro Stock. The Big Go also represents a huge weekend for sportsman racers for the third straight year, as the event features the exciting JEGS Allstars bonus event. In all, nearly 950 cars will be in action across all categories at the race.

Along with the thrilling racing action, fans will also be treated to a star-studded concert as country superstar Colt Ford will headline this year’s NHRA Concert Series Presented by 8-Track Entertainment. The musical talents of Ford on Saturday, Sept. 3, at 3:00 p.m. as well as rising star Anna McElroy on Friday, Sept. 2 at 5:00 p.m., and country rock-duo BoomTown Saints on Sunday, Sept. 4, at 2:00 p.m. will all perform at Indy.

Fans can attend an autograph session featuring drivers in the Pep Boys All-Star Callout at 5 p.m. on Friday for the Top Fuel participants and at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday for the eight Funny Car drivers. Riders in Pro Stock Motorcycle will be signing at the Suzuki Display Friday, while an autograph session featuring Dodge drivers will take place at 6 p.m. on Friday and 12:45 p.m. on Saturday at the Dodge Display. On Saturday, fans can also attend Nitro School to learn more about how the cars operate and reach their thrilling speeds. The Total Seal Trackside Tech Talk will take place on Friday as well.

Race fans at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Monday and includes the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Monday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the winners of the prestigious Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals.

As always, fans also get an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet in Indianapolis. This unique opportunity gives fans a unique chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers, and more. Fans can also visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting atmosphere that includes interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food, and fun for the entire family. The new Pep Boys midway display will include tire change challenges, oil change challenges, a slot car track, and much more, adding even more excitement to the midway.

NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying for the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals will feature one round at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 2, two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 1:15 and 5:00 p.m. and the final two rounds on Sunday, Sept. 4 at 12:00 and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 10:00 a.m. ET on Monday, Sept. 5.

The semifinals of the Pep Boys NHRA All-Star Top Fuel Callout take place on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 2:40 p.m., with the final round to follow at 6:25 p.m. The next day, the Pep Boys NHRA All-Star Funny Car Callout will begin with the opening round at 1:20 p.m., the semifinals at 2:45 p.m. and the final round at 4:55 p.m.

Television coverage of the prestigious Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals includes racing action on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 3 and coverage of the Pep Boys NHRA All-Star Funny Car Callout from 4-5:30 p.m. Qualifying action will continue from 5:30-7 p.m. on Sunday on FS1. On Monday, live coverage from eliminations will begin at 12 p.m. on FS1 and continue on FOX from 2-5 p.m.

 

TONY STEWART ADDED TO FOX BROADCAST BOOTH AT INDY

Legendary championship-winning racecar driver and team owner Tony Stewart is headed to the FOX broadcast booth for the biggest race of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season, this weekend’s prestigious Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.

Stewart will join the NHRA on FOX team of Brian Lohnes and Tony Pedregon for eliminations on Monday, Sept. 5 at the Big Go, with eliminations set to air from 2-5 p.m. ET on FOX.

“Tony Stewart is one of the racing world’s most versatile drivers, celebrating success at the highest levels,” said Frank Wilson, FOX Sports VP Event & Studio Production. “He is now bringing that versatility to the broadcast booth, first in the NASCAR Cup Series on FOX earlier this year, and now as part of the NHRA on FOX for drag racing’s most iconic event. Along with two-time Funny Car champ, Tony Pedregon, the two Tonys will no doubt provide some entertaining and insightful analysis beginning this weekend from Indy.”

Stewart added NHRA team owner to his impressive, Hall of Fame resumè this season with the introduction of Tony Stewart Racing. The two-car nitro team features three-time Funny Car world champ Matt Hagan and Top Fuel star Leah Pruett, as the standout duo and title contenders have combined for four wins during the 2022 season.

Stewart, who also called action during select NASCAR on FOX broadcasts this season, will now join the NHRA on FOX broadcast booth on drag racing’s grandest stage, offering his unique insight and adding another must-see incentive for fans at a critical juncture of the season. Along with the prestige of the annual race in Indy, the 68th annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals is the last race before the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, giving NHRA a huge platform on FOX to close the regular season with Stewart in the booth as well.

“It’s a great opportunity to have a motorsports icon and a new NHRA owner like Tony to join the NHRA on FOX broadcast during the U.S. Nationals,” NHRA Vice President of Broadcast Steve Reintjes said. “Tony is passionate about the NHRA, and he brings his experience from his recent role as an analyst during select NASCAR on FOX events to the NHRA broadcast booth. It’s a natural fit for Indy, our highest-profile NHRA event.”

The race on the FOX network comes during a stretch that features eight of nine NHRA races on FOX, a string that started in June in Bristol. The coverage on FOX has yielded impressive viewership numbers throughout, including the most recent broadcast in Brainerd on Aug. 21. Coverage of the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals registered 813,000 viewers, up more than 10 percent over last year’s Brainerd race on FOX.

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