The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series reaches its ninth stop on the 21-race tour this weekend with the 17th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. The four-day event features all four Professional classes, as well as the race-within-a-race Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge.
Two weeks ago in Bristol, nitro racers took part in an unplanned double-header after wet weather pushed all of eliminations for the New England Nationals to be completed during qualifying at the Thunder Valley Nationals. This weekend is slated to be no less exciting with entry lists for all four Professional categories packed full.
Justin Ashley is the hottest name in Top Fuel at the moment as the points leader, most recent winner on tour, and the only driver in the class to have won more than one event so far this season. With the Epping and Bristol double-up win at Bristol Dragway, Ashley has now earned four trophies in his Phillips Connect Toyota dragster.
Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals defending event champion Mike Salinas, who won the season-opener, will be looking to rebound from a first-round loss at Bristol that sent the Team Scrappers campaigner down to the No. 7 position in the Top Fuel standings. His 333.48 mph pass clocked at this event last year stands as the Summit Motorsports Park track record. Brittany Force holds the track record for e.t., set in 2022 at 3.666-second.
Steve Torrence, driver of the CAPCO Contractors dragster, has more wins in Norwalk than any other driver in the class. His three victories were earned in 2017, 2019, and 2021, so if the pattern of success there continues, his number will come up. Torrence led the points for much of the season, but for the last two races he's seen Ashley inch ahead. Torrence is right there, though, with an efficient car that reached the semifinals in New England Nationals competition and qualified No. 3 at the Bristol event before narrowly missing the win light in the second round.
Reigning Funny Car world champion Ron Capps reclaimed the top spot in the standings by winning Bristol in his NAPA Toyota. He won Norwalk in 2016 and was the No. 1 qualifier there last season. In addition to his Bristol win two weeks ago, Capps was runner-up in Phoenix, Pomona, and Chicago.
Robert Hight and his AAA/Cornwell Tools Chevrolet will be looking to repeat the victory they earned at Summit Motorsports Park in 2022. Hight, currently No. 3 in the Funny Car standings, has also earned three low qualifier awards there in Norwalk (2007, 2008, and 2011), and he was runner-up there in 2008 and 2017 before breaking through for the win. He is the current track record holder for speed with his 334.65 mph pass set in 2017.
Matt Hagan holds the other end of the record with a 3.865 set in 2017. Hagan enters the event No. 2 in the current Funny Car standings on the basis of three wins that kept him at the top until Bristol. Hagan was hot early, and although the last four events haven't been the finest for the Dodge Direct Connection Funny Car campaigner, he looks to get back to business at an event that he won in 2018. Hagan has twice been low qualifier in Norwalk (2015 and 2017).
Reigning Pro Stock champion Erica Enders and five-time champ Greg Anderson, the most winning driver in the category with 101 victories claimed, are tied for the most Norwalk wins; they each have three. Enders started her season in a slump that brought her all the way down to No. 14 in the Pro Stock points, but her Johnson's Horsepowered Garage Chevrolet woke up at Bristol Dragway. For the first time this year, she qualified in the No. 1 position and capitalized on everything she had to score her first win in her championship defense. She was the No. 1 qualifier and earned the Pro Stock trophy in Norwalk last season. Enders also holds both ends of the track record with a 6.523 and 212.63 mph set in 2014, before the electronic fuel injection era when the Pro Stock engines were outfitted with traditional carburetors.
Enders moved up to No. 9 in the points, while Dallas Glenn, driver of the RAD Torque Systems Chevrolet, retained the top spot that he's had in his possession since Pomona. Glenn has claimed three wins in four final rounds and was the No. 1 qualifier in Chicago.
Aside from Enders and Anderson, the only other currently competing Pro Stock drivers to have won in Norwalk are Bo Butner and Chris McGaha. Dave Connolly, the 2007 winner, now lends his expertise as a crew chief in the KB Titan Racing camp.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, the Vance & Hines Mission team have garnered much attention this season, most recently for being on the heavy end of a parity adjustment with weight added to their Suzuki motorcycles. The team will be charging to defend the title they earned in Norwalk last season with Angelle Sampey aboard the Mission Suzuki. Vance & Hines rider Eddie Krawiec has three previous wins in Norwalk, and crew chief Andrew Hines holds the record with five. After falling for the first time in 2023, Mission Suzuki rider Gaige Herrera is still well ahead in the points with three wins in four final rounds and every low qualifier award up for grabs. He's also won each of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge titles available for the two-wheeled pack.
The 2023 Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion, Matt Smith, is tied with Krawiec with three Norwalk wins. Smith, in his 300th national event, had a tough outing at Bristol and fell to No. 5 in the points, but his DENSO Suzuki has been a top-half qualifier at each race and brought him to the final round in Charlotte. His most recent win in Norwalk was in 2021, and he holds both ends of the Summit Motorsports Park track record with a 6.782 and 201.58 set in 2021. Smith's wife and teammate, Angie Smith, had top speed of the meet at Norwalk in 2022 with a 200.83 mph pass.
Two weeks ago, Steve Johnson made a massive move in the points as he did what was suspected to be impossible: he dethroned Herrera by winning Bristol. Johnson hasn't been a slouch this season; he qualified No. 2 at the season opener, was No. 3 in Charlotte, and after a start from the No. 10 spot and a first-round loss in Chicago, he rebounded at Bristol with a top-half effort (No. 6) and the win.
2022 EVENT WINNERS
Mike Salinas, Top Fuel; Robert Hight, Funny Car; Erica Enders, Pro Stock; Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle
Steve Torrence, 3, TF; Jack Beckman, 3, FC; Greg Anderson and Erica Enders, 3 each, Pro Stock; Andrew Hines, 5, Pro Stock Motorcycle
Top Fuel - 3.666 seconds by Brittany Force, June '22; 338.58 mph by Mike Salinas, June '22
Funny Car - 3.865 seconds by Matt Hagan, June '17; 334.65 mph by Robert Hight, June '17
Pro Stock - 6.523 seconds by Erica Enders, July '14; 212.63 mph by Erica Enders, July '14
Pro Stock Motorcycle - 6.782 seconds by Matt Smith, June '21; 201.58 mph by Matt Smith, June '21
Top Fuel - 3.623 sec. by Brittany Force, Sept. '19, Reading, Pa.; 338.94 mph by Brittany Force, Nov. ‘22, Pomona, Calif.
Funny Car - 3.793 sec. by Robert Hight, Aug. '17, Brainerd; 339.87 mph by Robert Hight, July ’17, Sonoma, Calif.
Pro Stock - 6.450 sec. by Erica Enders, March '22, Gainesville, Fla.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May '14, Englishtown, N.J.
Pro Stock Motorcycle - 6.665 sec. by Karen Stoffer, March '22, Gainesville, Fla.; 205.04 mph by Matt Smith, July '21, Sonoma, Calif.
FRIDAY, June 23
NHRA Lucas Oil Series Drag Racing Series eliminations at 8:00 a.m.
Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car qualifying at 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.
Flexjet NHRA Factory Stock Showdown qualifying at 3:15 and 6:30 p.m.
FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by Type A Motorsports qualifying at 3:45 and 7:00 p.m.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, June 24
NHRA Lucas Oil Series Drag Racing Series eliminations at 8:00 a.m.
Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car qualifying at 9:45 a.m., eliminations at 2:00 p.m.
Flexjet NHRA Factory Stock Showdown qualifying at 10:45 a.m., eliminations at 3:00 p.m.
FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series qualifying at 11:15 a.m., eliminations at 3:30 p.m.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying at 12:00 and 4:00 p.m.
SUNDAY, June 25
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m.
FRIDAY, June 23, FS1 will televise one and a half hours qualifying coverage at 5:30 p.m. ET
SATURDAY, June 24, FS1 will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 7:00 p.m. ET
SUNDAY, June 25, FOX will televise three hours of finals coverage at 4:00 p.m. ET
Or watch all day on NHRA.tv