Five things we learned at the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals
GAIGE HERRERA IS THE REAL DEAL
OK, so we pretty much knew this when he dominated the season opener in Gainesville, but just in case there was an ounce of lingering doubt, Herrera put it to rest by winning his second straight Pro Stock Motorcycle event as a member of the Vance & Hines team. Much like Gainesville, Herrera’s Mission Foods Suzuki was the dominant bike in the class as he qualified No. 1 and pretty much had the field covered from start to finish. Herrera admittedly had a few concerns about racing in the four-wide format for the first time, but his lights on race day (.026, .021, and .013) pretty much addressed that issue. It’s still far too early to start making plans for a banquet speech, but it seems likely that Herrera will be in the running until the very end.
THE PRO STOCK CLASS IS AS GOOD AS IT’S EVER BEEN
Remember the so-called good old days when there were upwards of 30-40 Pro Stock cars at most NHRA events? Yes, there were a lot of cars, but just a few drivers like Bob Glidden, Warren Johnson, and Lee Shepherd who could win consistently. Today, much has changed and a lot of it for the better. Car counts are improving as Charlotte’s 23-car field was the biggest since the dawn of the fuel injection era, but the big difference is the unrivaled parity. In the first five races of the season, we’ve had four different winners, Dallas Glenn, Troy Coughlin Jr., Camrie Caruso, and now Deric Kramer. Note that Erica Enders, Greg Anderson, Matt Hartford, Aaron Stanfield, Kyle Koretsky, Chris and Mason McGaha, and anyone named Cuadra have yet to win a race, and all of them seem capable. Could we have a season with 10 or more different winners? That seems almost inevitable at this point.
WHEN AUSTIN PROCK WINS, ALL OF JFR WINS
Interesting stat of the weekend comes from Top Fuel winner Austin Prock, who noted that during three of his four Top Fuel victories he’s shared the winner’s circle with either John Force or Robert Hight, his Funny Car teammates. Prock’s first victory at the 2019 Seattle race was also a milestone celebration for Force, who picked up his 150th Funny Car title the same day. More recently, Prock shared the winner’s circle with Hight last year in Reading and again on Sunday at zMax Dragway after the Montana Brands/Rocky Mountain Twist dragster collected the four-wide title. The only exception to the rule was last year’s NHRA Finals in Pomona, where Prock won in Top Fuel, while Cruz Pedregon was the Funny Car victor.
SHERMAN ADCOCK JR. IS A BAD, BAD MAN
The last person anyone in the entire NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series would want to face right now is Super Gas driver Sherman Adcock Jr. Already a two-time world champion, Adcock is destroying the competition this year at a record pace. After winning his first four divisional events, the Georgia-based racer added the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals title to his score on Saturday evening. The only blemish on Adcock’s otherwise perfect season is a round-three loss in Gainesville. For those keeping score, Adcock’s record on the season is an obscene 32-1, and he’s got 566 points with plenty of races left to claim. While there is still work to be done in order to claim a third title, it’s not unreasonable to think that Adcock could top 700 points. Mathematically, he’s even got a shot to challenge Peter Biondo’s record 792-point score
THE CHARLOTTE TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER FINAL WAS AMAZING
Want a good early-season candidate for the race of the year? Look no further than the Top Alcohol Dragster final quad from zMax Dragway. As a whole, the Top Alcohol Dragster class has gotten a lot of attention since the arrival of NASCAR star Tony Stewart last season, and the adulation has been long overdue. In Charlotte, Stewart, fresh off his first NHRA win in Las Vegas, made it to the final alongside Julie Nataas, Mike Coughlin, and up-and coming rookie Cody Krohn. The end result was a rare triple-holeshot win for Coughlin, who put his bracket racing skills to good use with a .017 light that allowed his 5.302 to prevail over three other runs in the 5.20s. Stewart was second, just .002-second behind, and all four cars were separated by just .015-second.