Story By: NHRA – CONCORD, NC – As the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to zMAX Dragway for the Countdown to the Championship playoffs for the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals on Sept. 22-24, drivers remain focused on dreams of an NHRA world championship.
The event marks the second race of the six-race playoffs and with four NHRA professional categories on track, the event promises to deliver all the thrilling racing action fans expect at zMAX Dragway, the Bellagio of dragstrips.
The playoff event will open with one round of qualifying on Friday with a pair of qualifying sessions on Saturday before the contenders in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle gear up for race day on Sunday.
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) claimed victories in 2022. This year’s race will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including eliminations coverage at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 24, as drivers look to impress the Carolina fans.
Brown put together a winning appearance last season in Charlotte in Top Fuel, after his 2022 NHRA U.S. Nationals win. With the 2023 Indianapolis win under his belt this year, he hopes to repeat his success at zMAX. To do so, he’ll need to get around points leader Justin Ashley, Steve Torrence, Leah Pruett and reigning champ Brittany Force.
Reigning champion and current points leader Capps powered to his 2022 NHRA Carolina Nationals win in Funny Car by defeating Alexis DeJoria in the final round. His playoff showing helped secure his second consecutive world title and he’d love nothing more than to continue the trend in 2023. In his way will be Matt Hagan, Robert Hight who has six wins in Charlotte, Bob Tasca III and Sonoma winner J.R. Todd.
Stanfield claimed his 2022 NHRA Carolina Nationals win when he took down Matt Hartford in the final round. Stanfield is on the hunt for his first win of 2023 but to do so in Charlotte he’ll need to get around points leader Dallas Glenn, U.S. Nationals winner Hartford, reigning world champion Erica Enders, Troy Coughlin Jr. and Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals winner Deric Kramer.
Also on track will be the Pro Stock Motorcycle division which will include the likes of points leader Gaige Herrera. Not only did Herrera win the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals this spring, he has a total of six wins on the 2023 season. Hot on his heels is the reigning world champion Matt Smith, after his big win in Indianapolis. Also in the hunt is Norwalk winner Hector Arana Jr., Eddie Krawiec and Angie Smith.
The Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, which includes some of the sport’s top drivers, as well as the new NHRA Factory X presented by Holley class, the ever-exciting Mountain Motor Pro Stock category and a Top Fuel Motorcycle exhibition. Fans can also look forward to special freestyle motocross exhibitions all weekend. The star riders will perform three times a day in the midway, adding another entertaining aspect to the weekend.
On Saturday, fans can brush up on their NHRA knowledge and attend Nitro School to learn more about how the cars operate and reach their thrilling speeds. That takes place at the Nitro Alley Stage all weekend, which is the main entertainment hub in the pits when the Camping World Drag Racing Series competitors are not on the track, hosting Nitro School, meet and greets and much more.
Race fans at zMAX Dragway can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday 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 Sunday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals event winners.
As always, fans also get an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet in Charlotte. This unique opportunity gives fans a 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.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 6:00 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 22, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11:00 a.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 24. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 9:30 a.m. ET on Saturday and 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, and then eliminations on FS1 at 2:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.