On April 13-15, the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will break from the traditional one-on-one format for the 3rd annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway. Spencer Massey, Robert Hight, and Allen Johnson, the winners from the most recent series event in Las Vegas, are hoping to stay on a roll at the "Bellagio of dragstrips."
Hight claimed his third consecutive Funny Car victory of the season in Las Vegas and hopes that the upcoming off weekend doesn’t put a hiccup in his recent streak of wins.
“I definitely hope four is a magic number in Charlotte. This is huge because I always fear that when you have a couple weekends off, you’re going to lose that momentum, and like it or not, momentum does play a big role in this,” said Hight. “It gives you confidence, just as a driver being able to get in the car every week and run.”
The last time that NHRA raced at zMAX Dragway, at September’s O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, Matt Hagan became the first Funny Car driver to run a sub-four-second pass. Hight thinks that if the conditions are right, there’s a possibility for more of those performances.
“There’s definitely a possibility; it depends on the conditions there. Matt Hagan, he just stomped us in the fall,” said Hight. “He did a great job, set the national record, first in the threes. If you’re going to do it, it’s a lot easier at a Bruton Smith track because they are first-class. Beautiful surface, nice facility. It’s a fun town to go to. It’s just a great place to go, two Bruton Smith tracks in a row; this is a fun time of the year for us.”
To Hight, the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals is a nice changeup on the schedule because the racing is so different.
“There’s just more going on in your head,” said Hight. “But you know what, it’s kind of cool because it shakes things up, it changes things. Like the NASCAR guys, they have short tracks, and they have long tracks, superspeedways, all this stuff. Ours is always the same, so the four-wide is something cool for the fans and something different for us drivers. Still has the same amount of points, same amount of money, and we want to go there and keep the points lead.”
Massey, driver of the Don Schumacher Racing FRAM Top Fuel dragster, won his second event of the season in Las Vegas and is hoping to use that momentum to get back-to-back victories.
“It’s extremely important. It gives you that much more boost going to the next race,” said Massey. “You want to go into Charlotte and have that going behind your back because a win is a win, and what you want to do is win every race. That’s hard to do, but it’s what I want to do now, obviously. It would be nice to double it up and win at the four-wide [event].”
Massey said that racing four-wide is very different from racing in the traditional two-wide format because you can cross the line second but still make it to the next round.
“You have to pay attention to two other lanes staging and then you have to pay attention to, ‘Hey, I might be the first one in my lane, I might be the first one against the guy next to me, but I may not be the first one in the other two lanes,’ ” said Massey. “So the one thing that is different going into the second round, even if you’re the second guy going into the first line, you’re still going to advance.
“Last year, I remember I was right behind Del Worsham and remember thinking, ‘OK, I hope I’m second, I hope I’m second, I hope I’m second, and we were second.’ It’s a little different strategy, but that’s what makes it that much better for the fans, that much better for all of us. Because it’s four-wide drag racing at 300 mph. It’s awesome.”
Even though Pro Stock racer Johnson won his first race of the season in Las Vegas, he thinks that several other competitors also have momentum leading into the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.
“There are about four or five of us that have momentum going into Charlotte,” said Johnson. “Any win is great, especially heading towards Charlotte. Bruton’s tracks are just first-class, and to be able to race two of them in a row is pretty awesome. Momentum and confidence is very key.”
According to Johnson, if the weather is cool, there could be some fast racing again at zMAX Dragway.
“That track so awesome,” said Johnson. “The atmospheric conditions are right for Pro Stock. You know over there you can never tell, it could be really cool or it could be hot and humid. If the atmospheric conditions are right, the track’s there. If you guarantee that, we’ll go out there and haul the mail.”
Fans can purchase two tickets to any day of the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals for $60 and receive a choice of two T-shirts, two beer vouchers or two Coca-Cola soft drinks and two hot dogs. Children 13 and younger are admitted for free with the purchase of an adult ticket.
To purchase tickets, call 800-455-FANS (3267) or log on to www.zmaxdragway.com. At-track camping options are also available.