INDIANAPOLIS – The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series enjoyed its most-watched weekend of Countdown to the Championship telecasts in the NHRA on FOX era, as more than 2.1 million viewers tuned in to original airings of last weekend’s 38th annual Pep Boys NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.
A total of 1.504 million viewers tuned into the NHRA on FOX broadcast of Sunday’s eliminations coverage at Maple Grove Raceway.
The final hour of the broadcast on Sunday also averaged a higher viewership than the final hour of last year’s NFL adjacent broadcast, with viewership increasing eight percent over last year for the full second hour and more than 25 percent for the final quarter-hour.
“These viewership milestones don’t occur without the full support of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series teams and racers, our track partners, which includes the Koretsky family at Maple Grove Raceway, and the hard-working men and women who support the event on-site, including facility staff, the NHRA Safety Safari and the NHRA on FOX production team,” NHRA Vice President of Broadcast Steve Reintjes said.
CONCORD, NC – 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.
CONCORD, NC – The action on the track at zMAX Dragway will heat up on Friday through Sunday when the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series hosts the betway NHRA Carolina Nationals, the second of six playoff races in the Countdown to the Championship.
But a full slate of fun and thrills off the track ensures the weekend in Charlotte will be filled with non-stop excitement for fans of all ages. With can’t-miss attractions like KSFMX freestyle motocross exhibitions in the midway to Friday night fire to a wealth of activities on the Nitro Alley Stage, the late-season race at the Bellagio of Dragstrips will be one to remember from start to finish.
The midway will come alive three times a day during the event when the performers with the KSFMX freestyle motocross put on a show. Fans will have a front-row seat to their incredible stunt show, which including a 300×50-foot blueprint in the middle of the midway. That means while fans are watching team work on their 11,000-horsepower machines in the pits, they can also catch a glimpse of some spectacular high-flying motocross action before the nitro cars take to the track.
CONCORD, NC – A regular season filled with struggles changed almost overnight for Tony Schumacher. The Top Fuel legend and eight-time world champ enjoyed a sizeable turnaround to open the Countdown to the Championship, advancing to the semifinals last weekend to kick off the playoffs.
He moved up to ninth in the points standings heading to this weekend’s betway NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway, determined to make another significant jump at a track that has served him well over the years in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.
Schumacher has won the Charlotte fall race twice and is excited for another big weekend at the Bellagio of dragstrips. Last weekend was Schumacher’s best performance in his 11,000-horsepower SCAG Power Equipment/JCM Racing dragster in three months and it couldn’t have happened at a better time as the 86-time event winner has his sights set on a big playoff push.
KALITTA GETS 50TH WIN; HIGHT, HARTFORD AND M. SMITH ALSO OPEN PLAYOFFS WITH VICTORIES AT PEP BOYS NHRA NATIONALS
Tony Stewart moves back into Top Alcohol Dragster points lead with second victory of the season as well
READING, PA – Top Fuel’s Doug Kalitta picked up his milestone 50th career win on Monday at Maple Grove Raceway, earning his first victory in nearly three years after driving past Steve Torrence in the final round of the 38th annual Pep Boys NHRA Nationals, the first race in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Robert Hight (Funny Car), Matt Hartford (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won the 16th of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season, and the first of six events in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. The points lead changed hands in every class this weekend as well, with three of the four winners (Hight, Hartford and Smith) taking over the top spot.
In the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, Hall of Fame driver Tony Stewart moved back into the points lead as well with his second national event win – and fourth victory overall this season in his Mobil 1 McPhillips Racing dragster. Stewart’s run of 5.213-seconds at 271.19 mph gave him the victory over Madison Payne in the final round, which comes on the heels of winning the divisional event at Maple Grove Raceway in early August.
Action will begin at 10 a.m. ET with the completion of the semifinals in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, starting with the remaining Top Fuel semifinal between Steve Torrence and Tony Schumacher. Finals in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series will also take place on Monday. The race will be broadcast at 9:30 p.m. ET on Monday on Fox Sports 1 (FS1).
Top Fuel’s Doug Kalitta is the lone driver who has advanced to the final round of the first race in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, putting together a string of runs in the 3.60s, including a pass of 3.684-seconds at 332.84 mph to get a holeshot win over Leah Pruett in the semifinals. If Kalitta wins in the final round, the veteran would pick up his 50th career victory. He’ll take on the winner of Schumacher and Torrence, who will meet in the other semifinal and will kick off raceday on Monday.
TASCA, ASHLEY, ENDERS AND HERRERA QUALIFY NO. 1 IN FRONT OF SELLOUT CROWD AT PEP BOYS NHRA NATIONALS
READING, PA – Bob Tasca III ended Funny Car qualifying in style on Saturday at Maple Grove Raceway, powering to the No. 1 position in front of a sellout crowd at the 38th annual Pep Boys NHRA Nationals, the first race in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Justin Ashley (Top Fuel), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also qualified No. 1 at the 16th of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season, and the first of six races in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. It was the seventh sellout crowd of the 2023 season. Sunday’s eliminations were also moved up to 9:30 a.m. ET at Maple Grove Raceway.
Tasca, who entered the weekend fourth in points, raced to his fifth No. 1 spot this season with a standout run of 3.866-seconds at 328.30 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Motorcraft/Quick Ford Mustang. It’s the 14th career top spot for the veteran, who is seeking his second career win at Maple Grove Raceway and third this season.
READING, PA – Points leader Justin Ashley started the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs in impressive fashion at Maple Grove Raceway, powering to the provisional No. 1 spot in Top Fuel on Friday at the 38th annual Pep Boys NHRA Nationals.
Bob Tasca III (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also the provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the 16th of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season, and the first of six races in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Ashley put together a run of 3.687-seconds at 335.57 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Phillips Connect Toyota dragster at his home track, vaulting to the No. 1 position after struggling during the opening session. If it holds, it would be Ashley’s third No. 1 this season and fifth in his career. Seeking his first world championship, it’s already been a banner season for Ashley, as the points leader has six wins heading into the playoffs. But he’s only focused on the task at hand during the Countdown to the Championship.
“That was a great run for this Phillips Connect Toyota team,” Ashley said. “We didn’t have a great run in the first session. This is basically a home race for me since I am from New York and we have a lot of friends and family here. You want to do well to start the Countdown and this was a great start. That run felt really good and it was a great way to wrap up the first day of the Pep Boys Nationals.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE POINTS LEADER GAIGE HERRERA EAGER TO MAKE PLAYOFF DEBUT AT PEP BOYS NHRA NATIONALS
READING, PA– A dominant and incredible regular season was one to remember for relative Pro Stock Motorcycle newcomer Gaige Herrera. Now, the second-year rider hopes to enjoy the same success in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship, which opens at this weekend’s 38th annual Pep Boys NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.
It’s the first appearance in the Countdown to the Championship for Herrera, but the points leader seems eager to embrace the challenge on his Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki. His points lead will be 29 points over reigning world champion Matt Smith to open the six-race playoff, with a host of talented riders close behind.
Herrera, though, has plenty of confidence, thanks in part to a standout season that has included six victories in nine Pro Stock Motorcycle races thus far and eight No. 1 qualifiers. With the challenges only getting bigger starting this weekend in Reading, Herrera hopes to take his own performance up a notch.
ST. LOUIS – The NHRA Countdown to the Championship hits the halfway point in St. Louis, as all the top stars in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series return to World Wide Technology Raceway for the highly-anticipated 12th annual NHRA Midwest Nationals on Sept. 29-Oct. 1.
The memorable three days of action serves as the third of six NHRA playoff races (and the 18th of 21 races in the 2023 campaign), with the annual stop in St. Louis always a huge attraction for fans wanting to get a taste of the incredible 11,000-horsepower, 330-mph action.
It starts with a special qualifying session under the lights on Friday to open the action, continuing with two more qualifying sessions on Saturday in front of what has traditionally been a sellout crowd in St. Louis, and is capped off by Sunday eliminations as the contenders in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle compete for a key Countdown to the Championship victory.