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Championship dreams are up for grabs as NHRA returns to zMAX Dragway

The stakes will be raised for the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series’ second race of the season at zMAX Dragway, as a critical Countdown to the Championship victory will be on the line at the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals on Sept. 23-25.  
20 Sep 2022
Posted by NHRA.com staff
zMAX Dragway

The stakes will be raised for the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series’ second race of the season at zMAX Dragway, as a critical Countdown to the Championship victory will be on the line at the upcoming Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals on Sept. 23-25.  
It is the second event in the six-race NHRA playoffs, and the playoff action will add an extra layer of intensity to the thrilling nitro-powered action that the 11,000-horsepower Top Fuel and Funny Car machines will bring to "the Bellagio of dragstrips."
The pivotal playoff showdown will open with one round of qualifying on Friday in conditions that could lead to track records, a pair of action-packed qualifying sessions on Saturday, and eliminations on Sunday as the championship contenders in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock will look to strike it big at zMAX Dragway.
Josh Hart (Top Fuel), Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car), and Kyle Koretsky (Pro Stock) won last year’s playoff race. This season’s event will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) as the standouts in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series look to an early win in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs at zMAX Dragway.
Hart’s stellar rookie season in Top Fuel got better in Charlotte, where he upset No. 1 qualifier Brittany Force in the final round, earning his second victory in a wonderful debut campaign. Hart has continued to be solid during his sophomore season, and he’ll look for another Charlotte win as he races for a world championship for the first time. Force, meanwhile, is after a second world title and already has four victories to her credit in 2022. She’s in second place behind Reading runner-up Justin Ashley, and there are plenty of other worthy title contenders, including four-time defending world champ Steve Torrence, Mike Salinas, who also has four wins this year, Leah Pruett, eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher, Doug Kalitta, Antron Brown, Clay Millican, and Reading champ Austin Prock.
Funny Car veteran Wilkerson was the thorn in everyone’s side a year ago, picking up the victory in Charlotte by knocking off the likes of Bob Tasca III, John Force, Ron Capps, and Cruz Pedregon. It was a memorable day for Wilkerson, and, after a runner-up last weekend in Reading, he’ll look to recreate that moment against a loaded Funny Car field. Everyone is chasing points leader Robert Hight, who has returned to form in 2022 after struggling last season. He has seven wins this season to pace the class, which also includes Matt Hagan, who has three victories for Tony Stewart Racing this year, defending world champ Capps, Tasca, J.R. Todd, Force, who won the spring race in Charlotte, and Alexis DeJoria.
Koretsky enjoyed a dream weekend last year in Charlotte, picking up his first career victory in Pro Stock. He knocked off eventual world champ Greg Anderson to do so, denying Anderson a chance to set the all-time wins mark in the class at the race. Anderson got that later in the year and now recently picked up his 100th career win at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals. Koretsky is after his first win in a season that’s been dominated by points leader Erica Enders. She has seven wins thus far in 2022, including last weekend in Reading, while teammates Aaron Stanfield and Troy Coughlin Jr. both have two. Others to watch include Matt Hartford, Dallas Glenn, rookie Camrie Caruso, Bo Butner, and Mason McGaha.
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 FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by D-Wagon. Jose Gonzalez won in Charlotte a year ago en route to his first world title in the class. Fans in Charlotte can also enjoy the exciting Mountain Motor Pro Stock category as they bring their powerful 800-plus cubic-inch engines to zMAX Dragway. On Saturday, fans can attend Nitro School to learn more about how the cars operate and reach their thrilling speeds.
Race fans at zMAX Dragway can enjoy the special pre-race ceremony that introduces and celebrates each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan-favorite SealMaster NHRA 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 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 includes 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 will feature one round at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 23, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 1:30 and 5:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for noon ET on Sunday, Sept. 25. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, 2 p.m. on Sunday, and then eliminations on FS1 at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday.
To purchase tickets to the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway, please visit www.zmaxdragway.com or call 800-455-FANS (3267).