Known for incredible finishes over the years, this weekend’s 58th annual In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals is shaping up to be one of the most historic in NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series history, especially in the Funny Car and Top Fuel ranks.
With epic points races coming down to the wire in both 11,000-horsepower categories, fans could witness a pair of winner-take-all showdowns on championship Sunday at legendary In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip.
In Funny Car, the top three contenders – points leader Matt Hagan, Bob Tasca III, and Robert Hight – are separated by a mere 17 points – or less than a round at the points-and-a-half finale. It truly doesn’t get much closer, as the last man standing will clinch the 2023 Funny Car world championship, a thrilling summation of what’s been one of the closest title races in recent class history.
“It’s always been a dogfight,” Hagan said. “We know we have to go out and win, but they’re heavy hitters. I feel we’re all sitting here thinking we have to go win the race. That’s my feeling and my thought process. It’s not about points anymore, it’s just about winning this race. I’m just excited to be in the mix of it.”
Added Tasca: “We’re within a round, and if we all run to our potential, there’s a good chance two of the three of us could be in the final round, where all the chips would be on one race. That would be an epic ending to the season. I can’t wait to get there.”
Said Hight: “It’s a big deal, and it could come down to the final round to crown a championship. There’s no more excitement than that. There’s going to be lot of sleepless nights between now and Sunday, I’m sure, but I’m just glad to be a part of that.”
Top Fuel will feature its own remarkable finish, as Steve Torrence looks for a fifth world title against two hungry first-time title seekers in veteran Doug Kalitta and Leah Pruett. In a points race that has changed hands an incredible five times in the last six races, Torrence moved back ahead in Las Vegas, with his lead standing at just 15 points over Kalitta, who has finished second six times in his career.
Pruett is only 34 points back, and if the talented racer for Tony Stewart Racing can get enough points in qualifying and shorten the gap to less than 30 points, she would also be within a round of Torrence. Should that happen, it sets up for a spectacular Sunday that could come down to a thrilling “win the race, win the world title” scenario.
“It’s going to be fun, and it’s down to the last race,” Torrence said. “I’ve got a great car, and I’m more excited right now than at any point in this whole season. I’m looking forward to going to Pomona. We’ve got two great competitors biting at our heels, and I’ve been in a lot of different spots going to Pomona. I’m looking forward to it, and it’s pretty cool just to be in this position again.”
Added Kalitta: “There’s a lot of points left, and it should be fun. Pomona is just a cool track, and I always look forward to running there. It’s great to be in this position, and I’m having fun with it. This is one of the best opportunities I’ve had [to win a championship], and we’re looking forward to getting to Pomona.”
Said Pruett: “This is where I made my first pass. I’ve had highs and lows there, and this is a chance to make that absolute dream come true. Winning a race there is always spectacular, but the World Finals is something totally different. I’m honored to be in the company I am, and it’s going to be exciting. The fans are in for a treat, and I’ve been looking forward to this for a really long time.”
Of course, there’s more who could have a hand in the Top Fuel chase, as Mike Salinas is 76 points out of first, and Justin Ashley is 82 points back. Both remain in contention in what could be one of the wildest finishes in In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals history.
Austin Prock (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock), and Angie Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) won last year’s event, while Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock), and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) claimed world championships. The race will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), including eliminations at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.
In Pro Stock, Enders is closing in on a sixth world title and her fourth in five years. She’s won back-to-back races, opening up a 114-point lead over Greg Anderson heading into the finale. That sets up the possibility of Enders clinching the title during qualifying if she adds seven or more points to her advantage heading into Sunday.
Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Gaige Herrera has enjoyed a historic season and will clinch his first career world championship when he makes his first qualifying run on Sunday.
The weekend includes two qualifying sessions on both Friday and Saturday leading into championship Sunday, plus a weekend-long celebration of veterans. Fans can get closer to the action with a Top Eliminator Club experience, offering the best seats in the house and a premium experience.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at noon and 3 p.m. PT on Friday, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday at noon and 3 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. PT on Sunday. Television coverage begins with qualifying action on FS1 at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, leading into eliminations at 4 p.m.
To purchase tickets to the 58th annual In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals, fans can visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. All children 12 and under will be admitted free in the general-admission area with a paid adult.