Friday’s lone qualifying session at the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals only helped whet the appetite of everyone in attendance as Doug Kalitta, John Force, and Erica Enders were all impressive in taking the provisional No. 1 spots at zMAX Dragway.
With similarly cool conditions forecast for today, those early numbers may be in jeopardy as the teams will come armed with the knowledge gained on their opening passes.
Although Kalitta leads the Top Fuel field for the first time since he was No 1 in Phoenix at the season’s second race, there are a ton of drivers breathing down his neck including last year’s winner, Josh Hart, points leader Justin Ashley, and incoming Countdown top seed Brittany Force, whose fine 3.71 was clearly striped short based on her 295-mph trap speed.
Reigning world champ Steve Torrence didn’t make it down the track and he can’t afford to have another subpar weekend if he wants to win his fifth championship.
John Force’s lead in Funny Car – although it as just a few ticks off his own track record – is very much in jeopardy as five other drivers also ran in the 3.8-second range, including Matt Hagan, points leader Robert Hight, world champ Ron Capps, Bob Tasca III, and Tim Wilkerson.
Enders’ lead in Pro Stock was a solid two-hundredths over Greg Anderson and although she wasn’t ready to proclaim that she has that kind of edge – not being privy to Anderson’s run data – she did feel that the car still had a couple of hundredths in it if they could fix all of the minor things wrong with their run.
Two qualifying sessions today will set the final fields for Sunday’s eliminations, and another crucial raceday in the Countdown to the Championship.
2021 EVENT WINNERS: Josh Hart, Top Fuel; Tim Wilkerson, Funny Car; Kyle Koretsky, Pro Stock Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: Steve Torrence, 6, TF; Robert Hight, 6, FC; Jason Line, 4 PS; Andrew Hines, 8, PSM.
- Top Fuel - 3.662 seconds by Brittany Force, May '21; 333.58 mph by Austin Prock, April '22.
- Funny Car - 3.850 seconds by John Force, April '22; 335.07 mph by J Force, May '22.
- Pro Stock - 6.455 seconds by Jason Line, Mar. '15; 215.48 mph by Greg Anderson, March '15.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 24
- Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series eliminations at 8 a.m.
- FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by D-Wagon qualifying at 12:45 and 4:30 p.m.
- NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying at 1:30 and 5:15 p.m.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 25
- NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series eliminations begin at 12 a.m.
- Sunday, Sept. 25, FOX Sports 1 (FS1) will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 2 p.m. ET and three hours of finals coverage at 3 p.m. ET