In what has been an incredible start to his 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season, Gaige Herrera has been perfect through three races, winning all three events in Pro Stock Motorcycle, with each race marking his NHRA debut at that facility.
He’ll look to make it four in a row this weekend at the 22nd annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, which marks another track where Herrera has never competed in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
That hasn’t bothered him thus far, as Herrera has stockpiled wins in Gainesville, Charlotte, and Chicago on his Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki, and the young standout is eager to try and keep that unblemished record intact while visiting Thunder Valley for the first time.
“It’s going to be a new experience for me, so my first pass I’m going to learn a lot,” Herrera said. “The biggest thing I’ve focused on for years is knowing exactly where I’m at on the track while I’m making a pass, so I feel like that’s going to help a lot. I’m really enjoying going to all these tracks for the first time. It’s very cool to be able to race all over and experience it, and I’m definitely looking forward to this weekend.”
Herrera has already built a dominant lead by qualifying No. 1 at every race and winning three times. In Chicago, he made three of quickest runs in class history, including an impressive run of 6.672 seconds in qualifying. He also won the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, something he’ll have a chance to do again this weekend. Herrera will race teammate Eddie Krawiec on Saturday in a semifinal rematch, while Chip Ellis and Hector Arana Jr. is the other matchup in the specialty race that offers a bonus purse and bonus points on Saturday in Bristol.
But as dominant as Herrera has been, he knows it will be difficult to hold off a loaded field that also includes defending world champ Matt Smith, Steve Johnson, Joey Gladstone, and Angie Smith. Herrera, though, is focused on trying to maintain this current run for as long as he can.
“I’m just taking it race by race,” Herrera said. “I’m having the best season I could ever have starting like this. I didn’t expect to be on the top like I am, but I’m just enjoying it, and I know that anything can happen. We had good success in testing, and that really helped, but there’s a lot of races to go and a lot of time left in the season."
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying in Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will feature two rounds at 4 and 7 p.m. ET on Friday, final qualifying on Saturday at 1 and 4:30 p.m., and eliminations noon ET on Sunday.
To purchase tickets, fans can visit www.BristolDragway.com. Children 12 and under are admitted free on Friday with a paid adult. Children 12 and under are $10 on both Saturday and Sunday, and $15 for a three-day combo. For the full weekend schedule, including all special events, please click here.