CONCORD, NC – September 21, 2023 – (Motor Sports NewsWire) – Robert Hight has already won once this year at one of his favorite tracks, zMAX Dragway, which hosts this weekend’s 15th annual betway NHRA Carolina Nationals. But a season sweep at the Bellagio of Dragstrips would go a long way in the Funny Car standout trying to claim a fourth world championship.
Hight opened the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs in style last weekend, winning in Reading and jumping into the points lead in a loaded Funny Car category.
He also knows that won’t be nearly enough to win a world title in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, but the good news is Hight has enjoyed more success than anyone in the Funny Car ranks at zMAX Dragway. His seven overall wins at Charlotte pace the field and there’s plenty of good vibes following his triumph at the Circle K NHRA 4-Wide Nationals in April.
Hight is also plenty focused on the task at hand in his 11,000-horsepower Cornwell Tools/AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS, knowing the importance of another good weekend at zMAX Dragway in the midst of a stretch of three straight races to open the Countdown to the Championship.
“Hopefully we learned some things that will help us in Charlotte,” Hight said. “We can’t get too carried away yet. We’ve got to win some more races. You have to stay humble and put things behind you. We’ve got to work hard and this is the toughest Funny Car has ever been. It’s going to take some major, major work to win this championship. We’ve found some consistency with the combination that (crew chief) Jimmy Prock is using. It’s slight adjustments and it’s running well, the progress is showing and it’s perfect timing. We’re sitting in a good spot to really take a swing at this fourth championship.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) claimed victories in 2022 at the fall race at zMAX Dragway. This year’s race will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including eliminations coverage at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 24. It is the second of six playoff races and the 17th of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA season, and Hight is locked in as the intensity continues to ratchet up.
Things didn’t go as planned for Hight to open the summer, but the team has found its rhythm at the perfect time. He’s been to the semifinals or better at the past four races, including final-round showings in Brainerd and Reading. It leaves him in a good place heading into the final five events, but Hight is nowhere near ready to declare anything with a field that also includes defending and back-to-back world champion Capps, Matt Hagan, Bob Tasca III, John Force, Chad Green and J.R. Todd.
If anything, Hight and his team will try to raise their performance even more heading into crunch time.
“We’re on a good roll right now,” Hight said. “This Cornwell Tools team has to keep working hard. We have one down, and I’d give us an A-plus for last weekend, but we’ve got five to go and we have to put last weekend behind us to get ready for Charlotte.”
Steve Torrence, who has six zMAX Dragway wins in Top Fuel, moved into the points lead with a runner-up finish last week. He’ll try to stay on top taking on the likes of Justin Ashley, who has six wins in 2023, Reading winner Doug Kalitta, Brown, Leah Pruett and defending world champion Brittany Force.
Matt Hartford moved into the Pro Stock points lead for the first time in his career with his win in the playoff opener. He’ll try to keep it against the likes of reigning world champion Erica Enders, Dallas Glenn, Troy Coughlin Jr., defending event winner Stanfield and Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals winner Deric Kramer.
Also on track will be the Pro Stock Motorcycle division which will include the likes of points leader Matt Smith, who jumped Gaige Herrera with his win to start the Countdown. Hot on their heels are Hector Arana Jr., Eddie Krawiec and Angie Smith.
The betway NHRA Carolina Nationals also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, which includes some of the sport’s top drivers, as well as the new NHRA Factory X presented by Holley class, the ever-exciting Mountain Motor Pro Stock category and a Top Fuel Motorcycle exhibition. Fans can also look forward to special freestyle motocross exhibitions all weekend. The star riders will perform three times a day in the midway, adding another entertaining aspect to the weekend.
On Saturday, fans can brush up on their NHRA knowledge and attend Nitro School to learn more about how the cars operate and reach their thrilling speeds. That takes place at the Nitro Alley Stage all weekend, which is the main entertainment hub in the pits when the Camping World Drag Racing Series competitors are not on the track, hosting Nitro School, meet and greets and much more.
Race fans at zMAX Dragway can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the betway NHRA Carolina Nationals event winners.
As always, fans also get an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet in Charlotte. This unique opportunity gives fans a chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers, and more. Fans can also visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting atmosphere that includes interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food, and fun for the entire family.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 6:00 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 22, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11:00 a.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 24. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 9:30 a.m. ET on Saturday and 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, and then eliminations on FS1 at 2:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
About Camping World Holdings, Inc.
Camping World Holdings, Inc., headquartered in Lincolnshire, IL, (together with its subsidiaries) is the World’s largest retailer of RVs and related products and services. Our vision is to build a long-term legacy business that makes RVing fun and easy. Our Camping World and Good Sam brands have been serving RV consumers since 1966. We strive to build long-term value for our customers, employees, and shareholders by combining a unique and comprehensive assortment of RV products and services with a national network of RV dealerships, service centers and customer support centers along with the industry’s most extensive online presence and a highly trained and knowledgeable team of employees serving our customers, the RV lifestyle, and the communities in which we operate. We also believe that our Good Sam organization and family of programs and services uniquely enable us to connect with our customers as stewards of the RV enthusiast community and the RV lifestyle. With RV sales and service locations in 43 states, Camping World has grown to become the prime destination for everything RV. For more information, visit www.CampingWorld.com.
Headquartered in San Dimas, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 21 national events featuring the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by Type A Motorsports, Flexjet NHRA Factory Stock Showdown™ and Top Fuel Harley Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and NHRA Street Legal™. NHRA also offers the NHRA Jr. Street® program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League® for youth ages 5 to 17. With 120 Member Tracks, NHRA allows racers to compete at a variety of locations nationally and internationally. NHRA’s Youth and Education Services® (YES) Program reaches over 30,000 students annually to ignite their interest in automotive and racing related careers. NHRA’s streaming service, NHRA.tv®, allows fans to view all NHRA national events as well as exclusive features of the sport. In addition, NHRA owns and operates three racing facilities: Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park; and In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip in Southern California. For more information, log on to www.NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
Source: National Hot Rod Association