The emotions of the 35th and final #SpringNats at Houston Raceway Park are now in the rear-view mirror, as NHRA’s Camping World Drag Racing Series, its FuelTech Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by D-Wagon, Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown and Lucas Oil Sportsmen head to zMAX Dragway outside Charlotte, N.C. for the second and final four-wide contest in the 22-race Camping World nitro community’s schedule for 2022.
There was plenty to talk about after Houston and leading into Charlotte1 and the Circle K Four-Wide Nationals, the second and final four-wide of the year. Start with the emotions of Erica Enders, the four-time Pro Stock champion who succeeded in earning her third Wally winner’s trophy at her home track, the soon-to-be-closed Houston Raceway Park last Sunday. Hers was an all-woman final round, the first in NHRA Pro Stock history, as she prevailed over No. 1 qualifier and Rookie of the Year candidate Camrie Caruso.
While Pro Stock isn’t on the calendar for this upcoming evemnt in Charlotte, with her victory, Enders took over the points lead from Elite Motorsports teammate Aaron Stanfield, while the three KB Racing drivers: Kyle Koretsky, Dallas Glenn and five-time champ Greg Anderson round out the top five. Caruso, in only her fifth Pro Stock race, has elevated from 11th to seventh in the season standings.with last weekend’s performance. This class will next be in action at Epping, N.H. the weekend of June 3-5.
It was definitely a great day for women racers at Houston, as Brittany Force secured her second straight victory in that track’s final show after its 35 years of operation, propelling the second generation racer into the Top Fuel points lead. And Steve Torrence, the four-time reigning dragster champ, still hasn’t worn a blue winner’s cap at all this year, although he did make it to the semifinals in Houston; he’s now 32 points behind Force in second, with Justin Ashley (-53), Mike Salinas (-71) and Clay Millican in the top five.
There are 18 Top Fuel cars on the grounds for this weekend’s second four-wide race, with everyone in the top 10 entered to run in zMax Dragway’s four lanes. Antron Brown, the three-time champ who started his own team over the winter, is a two-time champion of this race and was the 2016 runner-up. Brown is glad that NHRA intends to have four qualifying sessions for the Camping World crowd; it definitely allows him to “gather more data and R&D, to see if we can pull off our first win as a new team this weekend.”
Salinas will be wearing the colors of Pep Boys again this weekend as he pursues his second victory of the season. This is the first time Pep Boys has sponsored a driver in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. The 2013 Top Fuel champion, Shawn Langdon has fallen out of the top 10 for now but has fond memories of this track, where the versatile driver won his first Funny Car race in the 2019 four-wide event. Langdon’s Kalitta Motorsports teammate, Doug Kalitta is starting to get familiar with the tune on his Mac Tools dragster, now that Alan Johnson and Brian Husen are turning the dials. He’s ninth in the standings, just behind 2021 rookie standout Josh Hart, as the two-time Top Fuel winner wears the colors of TechNet this weekend, hoping to turn his sophomore season around.
Others of interest on the dragster lineup include Alex Laughlin, 85-time winner and eight-time champ Tony Schumacher (P7 in standings), Austin Prock (P6), Kyle Wurtzel, Spencer Massey, Krista Baldwin making her second start of the year, Cameron Ferre, Leah Pruett and Doug Foley,
Matt Hagan’s victory – his second for Tony Stewart Racing – in Houston placed the Virginia cattle farmer atop the Funny Car standings with his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. He’s followed by Robert Hight’s John Force Racing Chevrolet Camaro SS (-60), reigning and two-time champion Ron Capps’ NAPA Auto Parts [unnamed] Funny Car (-87), Cruz Pedregon’s Charger SRT Hellcat (-225) and ageless John Force in his Camaro SS, who is 258 points behind Hagan in the standings, despite an early departure at Houston.. This group, along with the balance of the top 10 are on the entry list for this race:
There are 16 Floppers in Charlotte, so nobody has to pack up after Saturday evening’s fourth qualifying efforts are in the can. They include the balance of the top 10: J.R. Todd in Kalitta Motorsports’ Toyota GR Supra), Alexis DeJoria’s DC Motorsports Supra, Chad Green’s Bond Coat Ford Mustang, Bob Tasca III and Tim Wilkerson, whose team is aligned with Green’s, both of them racing Ford Mustangs. Paul Lee and his McLeod Charger are looking to turn around his season with new crew chiefs, John Smith has hopes for his Rock Racing Batteries Dodge, Blake Alexander is showing a lot of folks he belongs in Jim Head’s Mustang, while Dale Creasy Jr. (2014 Dodge Stratus) and Mike McIntire Jr’s Toyota Camry are glad to be in the show. Unfortunately, Bobby Bode isn’t making the trip here, thereby unable to capitalize on the media and fan attention he received after last week’s final round engine explosion and the driver’s similar meltdown after he wheeled his car to a stop.
Steve Johnson, the broccoli-eating Pro Stock Motorcycle fan favorite, won that class’ second race of the year in Houston last week and is looking for a repeat win and two-in-a-row at the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals this weekend. When Johnson’s Suzuki beat Matt Smith, riding a Buell when his Suzuki was unable to make the finals – it’s allowable during eliminations to change mounts – it was the rider’s 10th claim of a Wally winner’s hat and his first since Las Vegas last November. This weekend, Johnson will have to contend with plenty of competition for the win, and with a 10-pound weight reduction for the Buell motorcycles. NHRA said this adjustment was in the name of competition and balancing the class. There are seven V-Twin Buell-type entries for Charlotte1 and 10 Suzuki riders.
It’s possible this decision by NHRA could cause some changes in the class, where the top two riders, Karen Stoffer and Johnson, ride Suzukis. And with the first rider to reach 200mph joining the field for this race, Hector Arana Jr and his Buell could help shake up the scenery. Angie Smith and her Buell hold third-place points after Houston, followed by Eddie Krawiec (Vance & Hines Suzuki), Matt Smith, Joey Gladstone, Jerry Savoie, Angelle Sampey and Jim Underdahl, all riding Suzuki motorcycles, with Marc Ingwersen holding 10th place, tenuously, on his Buell.
Yes, everybody in the top 10 is on the entry list, along with Ryan Oehler and David Barron, racing the now lighter-weight Buell, Chris Bostick’s Suzuki, Michael Ray Jr. on a Buell, Ron Tornow’s Victory and Kelly Clontz on her Suzuki. But every one is gunning for Steve Johnson, who won this race last year on his Suzuki, en route to a third-place result in last year’s final standings.
With 15 racers scheduled to compete in NHRA’s FuelTech Pro Mod Drag Racing Series that is now presented by D-Wagon, an innovative product from Kruckeberg Industries (KI) that serves as a people transporter behind any golf cart or ATV equipped with a hitch, this exciting category should be fun to watch as it competes in its second, of 10 events on the 2022 calendar. The weekend also includes Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown, Lucas Oil Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car, marking the first four-wide for the Constant Aviation category.
Qualifying is scheduled for 4 and 7:30PM ET on Friday and 1 and 4:30PM on Saturday. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11am CT on Sunday and both qualifying and elimination action is broadcast on FS1. The weather could throw a wrench into the proceedings with thunderstorms forecast for all three evenings. Temps should be in the mid-to-high 70s all three days.