The fields are set, the first-round quads have been determined, and raceday at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals has arrived. The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been alive with more horsepower than a mortal being knows how to process this weekend, but it's about to get real as racers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock vie for the honor of winning the unique event.
In Top Fuel, Brittany Force stands at the top of the heap with her powerfully fast Monster Energy dragster, and she is the defending event champion. A two-time four-wide winner — her first was in Charlotte in 2016 — the reigning world champion is looking for her first win of the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season. With 15 Top Fuelers in competition this weekend, Force's opening-round quad will include a bye, and she will be racing for the win light against Tony Schumacher and two-time Charlotte four-wide winner Antron Brown. Schumacher is extra hungry for a four-wide win as he has been a runner-up four times and finished third in a four-wide final once before.
Remember, in four-wide competition, both of the first two finishers in each quad advance to the next round.
Steve Torrence has been impressive in four-wide competition, and the six-time winner will race Buddy Hull, Josh Hart, and Doug Kalitta. Two-time four-wide winner Mike Salinas will go toe-to-toe-to-toe with Krista Baldwin, Shawn Langdon, and Clay Millican, each of whom have yet to win such an event.
The final quad will include incoming points leader Justin Ashley (fresh off of back-to-back wins in Phoenix and Pomona), Rob Passey, Leah Pruett, and Austin Prock. For the third time this season, Prock is starting from the No. 12 position, but two weeks ago in Pomona, he proved that he and his Montana Brands/Rocky Mountain Twist team could overcome such a start on Sunday by reaching the final round.
Funny Car No. 1 qualifier Cruz Pedregon was the 2018 Charlotte Four-Wide winner and has reached the final round three additional times, plus, he's twice finished as the runner-up. He'll begin his day racing 2016 Charlotte Four-Wide winner Tim Wilkerson (who has reached the four-wide final five times) and second-generation drivers Steven Densham and Bobby Bode, neither of which have yet to see the inside of a final in this format.
Reigning Funny Car champion Ron Capps has two previous four-wide wins and has been a regular finalist, finishing in the final quad on five other occasions. He's qualified in the No. 4 spot this weekend and will race Chad Green, 2021 Las Vegas Four-Wide winner Bob Tasca III (who was runner-up in Charlotte in 2011), and 2013 Charlotte Four-Wide runner-up Blake Alexander.
John Force, the most winning driver in the sport, has three previous four-wide wins and has reached five additional four-wide finals, but they've all been in Charlotte. He's aiming to add a Las Vegas four-wide win to his scorecard and will start the challenge in a battle with three-time four-wide finalist Alexis DeJoria and West Coast racers Jason Rupert and Paul Lee.
The final Funny Car quad will contain the only two racers who have claimed a trophy this year: Gainesville and Pomona winner Matt Hagan, the incoming points leader, and Phoenix victor Robert Hight will be joined by Jeff Diehl and Alex Laughlin. Hagan has one previous four-wide win in the books — earned in Charlotte in 2013 — and has reached the final quad six additional times. Hight won the 2012 Charlotte four-wide in both 2012 and 2014 and was runner-up there last year and in 2019. He finished third at this race in 2022.
After earning his first No. 1 qualifier award, Pro Stock's Matt Hartford — who was runner-up at this race in 2019 — landed in what could be one of the toughest four-wide quads of the day. Reigning champion Erica Enders has had a dreadfully out-of-character start to the season and has every reason to believe her luck will turn in Las Vegas at a facility where she has more wins than anyone. Enders won this race in each of the last two seasons, and she also won the Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte in 2018. Also in this quad is last season's Rookie of the Year, Camrie Caruso, who is proving to be a thorn in the side of nearly everyone she comes across this year. The only person who has been able to stop Caruso in 2023 has been Dallas Glenn, who sent her home in the first round in Gainesville and then again in the Pomona semifinals. Hartford, Enders, and Caruso — the Phoenix winner and Pomona low qualifier — will be joined by newcomer Jerry Tucker, who could also prove to be a threat with Elite Motorsports horsepower under the hood.
Gainesville No. 1 qualifier and winner Troy Coughlin Jr. finished in the final four at the Charlotte race in 2021, and he will square off with the brothers Cuadra — 2021 Charlotte finalist Fernando Jr. and 2022 Las Vegas runner-up Cristian — as well as five-time world champion Greg Anderson. Anderson, and eight-time winner at The Strip, has two Charlotte Four-Wide wins (2011 and 2012) and reached the final round at this race in 2019. He was twice a runner-up in Charlotte (2015 and 2017).
Incoming points leader and Pomona titlist Glenn grabbed the first Pro Stock win of his career as a rookie at the Charlotte four-wide race in 2021. Last season, he reached the final round of this event. His quad will include Mason McGaha, whose first final round was last year at the four-wide event in Charlotte and who has been part of the final quad in each of the last three four-wide races. He's coming ever-closer to the first win of his career and was runner-up to Coughlin at the season-opener. Their quad will be rounded out by Kyle Koretsky and Steve Graham, neither of whom have been a four-wide finalist.
The final four in the Pro Stock first round are Aaron Stanfield, Chris McGaha, Bo Butner, and Deric Kramer. Butner was the 2019 four-wide winner in Charlotte and runner-up there in 2016. He also reached the final at this race in 2018, when Kramer was runner-up. Kramer reached the final at this race again in 2021 and finished third. Chris McGaha has been to four finals with this format (including this race in 2018) and won the Charlotte event in 2017. No. 2 qualifier Stanfield rounds out the quad and is due for a win, according to the pattern of his path in 2023. He lost in the first round in Gainesville, then saw one win light in Phoenix and two in Pomona. All it will take to win on Sunday in Las Vegas will be three solid round wins over a total of nine competitors. Stanfield nearly accomplished the feat in 2021, when he was runner-up at this event.
2022 EVENT WINNERS
Brittany Force, Top Fuel; Ron Capps, Funny Car; Erica Enders, Pro Stock
MOST EVENT VICTORIES
Tony Schumacher, 4, TF; Larry Dixon, 4, TF, Robert Hight, 3, FC; Erica Enders, 4, PS.
Top Fuel - 3.652 sec. by Brittany Force, Nov. ’19; 338.17 mph by B. Force, Nov. ’19
Funny Car - 3.835 sec. by Jack Beckman, Nov. ’19; 335.90 mph by Beckman, Nov. ’19
Pro Stock - 6.559 seconds by Erica Enders, Oct. '15; 210.28 mph by Enders, Oct. '15.
SUNDAY, April 16
Pre-race ceremonies, 11 a.m.
Camping World Series eliminations begin at noon
SUNDAY, April 16, FS1 will televise three hours of finals coverage at 9:30 p.m. (ET)
Or watch all day on NHRA.tv