NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Tricky Tipster: NHRA 4-Wide Nationals, Charlotte

Heading to "the Bellagio of dragstrips" for the second of two four-wide races this season, Trick Tipster has given the nod to Doug Kalitta, Austin Prock, Dallas Glenn, and Gaige Herrera as the pre-race favorites.
26 Apr 2024
NHRA National Dragster staff
Tricky Tipster®

OK, so Tipster whiffed a bit on the Las Vegas NHRA 4-Wide Nationals with an 0-3 record for the three Pro classes. The good news is that the net four-wide race is just around the corner at zMax Dragway, often known as "the Bellagio of dragstrips.”

Through the first four races of the season, we’ve only had one repeat winner in any of the Pro classes, Top Fuel’s Shawn Langdon, which makes it difficult from a handicapper's perspective. That being said, we’re going with Doug Kalitta, Austin Prock, Dallas Glenn, and Gaige Herrera as our favorites this week.


The favorite: Reigning champ Doug Kalitta didn’t exactly struggle through the first three races of the season, but the Mac Tools team turned it up a notch in Las Vegas, and Kalitta won his first four-wide race. It likely won’t be his last. Known for his even-keeled approach, Kalitta would seem to be a perfect fit for the four-wide format as he rarely gets distracted.

It also helps to have the best car in the class, and in Las Vegas, that was almost certainly Kalitta’s Alan Johnson-tuned dragster as he set low elapsed time of the weekend in the final round with a 3.71. Obviously, conditions in Charlotte will be much different than what teams experienced in Las Vegas, but Kalitta remains a favorite to sweep both four-wide races.

The contenders:  Four-wide races tend to favor the best drivers, so that would make Justin Ashley and Shawn Langdon the leading contenders because they’re both consistently at the top of the charts when it comes to reaction-time average. It also helps that they’ve both won races this season.

Beyond Ashley and Langdon, Steve Torrence and his father, Billy, have two of the best cars in the class, and they're both veterans of four-wide races. Steve is especially dangerous against three opponents, as he’s got multiple four-wide victories. We can also throw Antron Brown in the mix, as he’s coming off a win in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge.

The dark horse: Wouldn’t it be appropriate for Tony Stewart to score his first NHRA Top Fuel win in Charlotte, the heart of NASCAR country? Don’t laugh, it could happen. Stewart, who won the 2003 NASCAR Cup event at Charlotte Motor Speedway, has quickly adapted to his new surroundings in Top Fuel and made the final round in Las Vegas. Stewart has also noted that he enjoys the four-wide format.

Doug Kalitta                  Mac Tools                                4-1
Justin Ashley                 SCAG Power Equipment        5-1
Shawn Langdon           Kalitta Air                                 6-1
Steve Torrence             Capco Contractors                 7-1
Billy Torrence               Capco Contractors                  8-1
Antron Brown               Matco Tools                             9-1
Tony Stewart                Mobil 1                                      10-1
Brittany Force              Monster Energy                       11-1
Tony Schumacher       Leatherwood Distilleries        13-1
Clay Millican                 Parts Plus                                  14-1
Field                                                                                  19-1


The favorite: He didn’t win the Las Vegas event, but Austin Prock remains our favorite because he’s quickly adapted to his new surroundings behind the wheel of the John Force Racing Cornwell Tools Camaro. Prock, the incoming championship leader, got ambushed in the Las Vegas final by Bob Tasca III, but along the way, he did set low elapsed time of the weekend with a 3.89. He is both quick and consistent, and after just four races, he’s arguably a better Funny Car driver than he was in Top Fuel, and he was pretty good in a dragster.

The contenders: By a narrow margin, Las Vegas winner Bob Tasca III is ranked just behind Prock. Tasca and his team took a somewhat conservative approach to the Las Vegas race, and it paid big dividends. Of course, the driver also did his part with a rare triple holeshot in the final round. Just guessing here, but the conservative approach will be out the window this weekend as zMax Dragway is often a “swing for the fences” track, especially with four qualifying sessions. Tasca is a good bet to qualify No. 1, and he’s certainly capable of winning the race.

Prock and Tasca aside, we have to like what we’ve seen so far from J.R. Todd, while Matt Hagan and Ron Capps continue to find their groove after a slow start this season. It’s also worth noting that John Force won the delayed final round from Pomona and looked darn good doing it. Of course, Force also won the first-ever four-wide event in Charlotte.

The dark horse: Call it Tipster’s intuition, but something tells us that Blake Alexander is due for a really good weekend. The Pronto/Head Racing entry is capable of running with the best cars in the class, albeit with a few consistency issues. Again, Charlotte tends to be a great track, and the weather forecast is favorable, so we’re willing to take our chances for a surprise winner.

Austin Prock         Cornwell Tools Chevy                     4-1
Bob Tasca III         Motorcraft Ford                              5-1
J.R. Todd                DHL Toyota                                     6-1
Matt Hagan           Dodge Power Brokers Dodge      7-1
John Force             Peak/Blu Def Chevy                       8-1
Ron Capps             NAPA Toyota                                   9-1
Chad Green           Bondcoat Ford                               10-1    
Alexis DeJoria        Bandero Toyota                             12-1
Daniel Wilkerson  SCAG Mowers Ford                       12-1
Blake Alexander   Pronto/Head Inc. Ford                  14-1
Paul Lee                 McLeod/FTI Dodge                         15-1
Field                                                                                  18-1


The favorite: This might be the toughest call of any of the four classes just because the competition is so darned close in Pro Stock, and we’ve had four different winners in four events. By a coin flip, we’re going with past four-wide winner Dallas Glenn, but the margin is razor-thin. Glenn has all the tools necessary to win this race as his RAD Torque Systems Camaro can run at the top of the pack, and he didn’t give himself the nickname “Double-O Dallas.”
It's reasonable to assume the final quad in Pro Stock will be decided by a few thousandths or less, so whoever wins has their work cut out for them.

The contenders: Let’s see, Jeg Coughlin Jr., Erica Enders, and Greg Anderson have each won races this season, so they’ll certainly rate among the favorites, and the same can be said for Aaron Stanfield, Troy Coughlin Jr., and Jerry Don Tucker, who scored the first low qualifier award of his career in Las Vegas and made the final round.

The dark horse: There’s a number of Pro Stock drivers who could be termed as “overdue” for a great weekend, including Troy Coughlin Jr., Aaron Stanfield, and Matt Hartford, who is coming off an extremely rare DNQ. We can also give a nod to Brandon Foster, who has thrown his hat into the ring as NHRA’s possible next first-time Pro winner with several strong performances in his rookie season.


Dallas Glenn           RAD Torque Systems Camaro               3-1
Erica Enders            JHG/Elite Camaro                                    4-1
Jeg Coughlin Jr.        SCAG Power Equipment Camaro        5-1
Greg Anderson        HendrickCars.com Camaro                   6-1
Troy Coughlin Jr.      JEGS.com Camaro                                   7-1
Aaron Stanfield        Janac Bros/J3 Energy Camaro               8-1
Cristian Cuadra       Corral Boots Mustang                             9-1
Brandon Foster       Aquaprop Camaro                                   12-1
Matt Hartford          Total Seal Camaro                                    13-1
Jerry Tucker             Outlaw Mile-Hi Light Beer Camaro        14-1
Field                                                                                               19-1


The favorite: At this point, it would be crazy to go with anyone other than reigning champ Gaige Herrera, who backed up last season’s 11-win campaign with a convincing win in Gainesville. The Pro Stock Motorcycle teams have had more than a month to catch up to the RevZilla/Vance & Hines Suzuki, so it’s possible that someone can dethrone the current champ, but until that happens, Herrera will be our favorite.

The contenders: North Carolina native Matt Smith is playing what he calls a home game this weekend, and he and wife Angie tend to do very well at zMax Dragway. It’s highly unlikely that one or both of them do not make the final quad, and as we all know, anything can happen in a four-wide race.

It's a small sampling, but we also like what we’ve seen so far from Richard Gadson, who was impressive in his Gainesville debut with the Vance & Hines team. Gadson’s biggest problem is everyone else’s biggest problem: beating Herrera. Former champ LE Tonglet made it to the semfinals in Gainesville, and there is a lot of potential in his Maple Grove Raceway/Nitro Fish Suzuki.

The dark horse: It’s hard to call him a dark horse because he wins fairly often, but Hector Arana Jr. comes to mind as someone who could use a lift after a disappointing round-one loss in Gainesville. Arana and his GETTRX Buell have the ability to put the heat on Herrera, and once again, the four-wide format lends itself to upsets.


Gaige Herrera            RevZilla/Vance & Hines Suzuki            Even
Matt Smith                  Denso Buell                                            4-1
LE Tonglet                   Maple Grove/Nitro Fish Suzuki           6-1
Angie Smith                Denso Buell                                            7-1
Richard Gadson         RevZilla/Vance & Hines Suzuki            8-1
Hector Arana Jr.         GETTRX Buell                                          9-1
Steve Johnson            MacRak Suzuki                                       11-1
Kelly Clontz                 Steamfitters UA602 Suzuki                  12-1
Chase Van Sant          Trick Tools Suzuki                                  14-1
Field                                                                                               19-1