NHRA Returns to Route 66 Raceway in Joliet


NHRA Returns to Route 66 Raceway in Joliet

After a three-year hiatus, the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series is returning to Route 66 Raceway for the 23rd annual Gerber Collision & Glass NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by PEAK Performance. From 1998 to 2019, Route 66 Dragway hosted world championship events for the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), making it a must-visit destination for any die-hard racing fan.

The epic racing venue was built back in 1998 on a sprawling 250-acre parcel that includes a quarter-mile asphalt dragstrip and an impressive 3/8 mile dirt oval racetrack. In 1999, an additional 930 acres were secured to build the Chicagoland Speedway, which is owned by NASCAR. The dragstrip itself is a thing of beauty with a four-story complex of suites, 40 rows of grandstand seats with backs, and holds 30,000 racing fans.

The epic facility remains a top-tier destination for drag racing enthusiasts worldwide, with several famous drivers setting track records there - including Robert Hight. In Friday qualifying, Hight set a blazing new record by making the quickest Funny Car run of 2023. At a mind-blowing 335.07 mph, he shattered the previous track record he set back in 2017 in his 11,000-horsepower Cornwell Tools/Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS.


Clay Millican Wins Top Fuel at Route 66 Raceway

With the sun-drenched track starting to heat up, TJ Zizzo nailed a holeshot and eliminated Number One qualifier Mike Salinas who crossed the centerline losing 10 points. Third-year driver Josh Hart beat Antron Brown, Jacob McNeal, and Zizzo enroute to the final. Clay Millican worked past Shawn Langdon, Doug Kalitta and Brittany Force to earn his spot.

In the Top Fuel Final, Millican posted a 3.803 elapsed time at 328.94 mph in his Parts Plus/Rick Ware Racing dragster to beat Hart’s 3.808 ET at 324.28 mph for his first Wally in five years. Route 66 is special for Millican who competed in his first ever NHRA race at the track twenty five years ago and won his first-career Wally here five years ago despite the track’s tricky surface.


Tim Wilkerson Claims Funny Car Wally in Chicago

Fan-favorite veteran Tim Wilkerson powered his SCAG Power Equipment/Levi Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang past Blake Alexander, Alex Laughlin, and multi-time world champion John Force enroute to a matchup with the defending NHRA champ. Ron Capps, who had already won the Mission #2FAST2TASTY NHRA Challenge, eliminated Terry Haddock, Bob Tasca III and Chad Green to reach the Final round.

Wilkerson was late off the tree, as Capps left with a .053 reaction time before experiencing a machinal failure. Just past halfway, the parachutes deployed on Capps NAPA Auto Parts Toyota GR Supra. Wilkerson made a late surge to post a 3.966-second elapsed time to Capps 4.110 ET to earn his twenty-third career Wally in NHRA Nitro Funny Car.


Glenn Gets Third Pro Stock Win of the Season

After setting a track record as the Number One qualifier, Dallas Glenn got past Chris McGaha, teammate Greg Anderson and Jerry Tucker on Sunday to reach the final round. In the opposing bracket, Deric Kramer advanced to his second straight final round this year on the strength of round wins against Mason McGaha, Cristian Cuadra and Aaron Stanfield.

Glenn again made the most of the Pro Stock Finals as the points leader defeated Deric Kramer in the final round with a 6.562 elapsed time at 209.95 mph in his RAD Torque Systems Chevrolet Camaro. That gives Glenn three Pro Stock wins in the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series for his KB Titan Racing team; and the seventh of Glenn’s career.


Cinderella Season Continues for Gaige Herrera

Veteran Pro Stock motorcycle racer Chip Ellis aboard the DENSO/Matt Smith Racing Buell saw Chris Bostick and Chase Van Sant redlight before he eliminated Hector Arana Jr with .020 reaction time for 6.817 ET at a slower 199.70 mph. In the Pro Stock Motorcycle final, Herrera was second to launch with .041 RT to Ellis’s .029, but his Vance & Hines Suzuki made up for his slower start.

With his third straight win, Herrera extended his “Cinderella Season” in Pro Stock Motorcycle aboard the Mission Foods Suzuki. Let’s see.. Herrera won the season opener; he won round two; he won the Mission #2FAST2TASTY NHRA Challenge; he was the Number One qualifier at Chicago; he won at Route 66 against the crafty veteran in Chip Ellis; and strut his stuff Herrera shattered the track record with a 6.672ET.

Artwork courtesy of NHRA


UP COMING:

NHRA New England Nationals

The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to action June 2-4 with the 10th annual NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H. In addition, the next round of the #2Fast2Tasty Mission NHRA Challenge in the nitro classes will be run during Saturday qualifying.