Countdown Round Two: Nitro Classes at zMAX

North Carolina auto dealer Bruton Smith, a NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, collaborated with fellow Hall of Fame driver Curtis Turner to design and construct the 1.5-mile superspeedway at Charlotte Motor Speedway outside Concorde NC in 1959. Despite facing financial challenges in the 60s, Smith successfully regained majority ownership and appointed Humpy Wheeler as General Manager, leading to exciting new developments.

One of the groundbreaking additions included the NHRA-sanctioned zMAX Dragway, completed in 2008. The dragstrip boasted state-of-the-art features and was the first stunning four-lane drag racing surface. But Smith's vision didn't stop there. The Smith family of investors built the second NHRA-sanctioned 4-wide track at The Strip at Las Vegas Motorsports.

Excitement filled the air from the Friday Night of Fire qualifying rounds to thrilling motocross stunts. The event catered to fans of all ages, with the popular midway offering a range of entertainment. The action-packed weekend at the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals concluded with top drag racing stars in the world competing for a critical Countdown playoff victory in nitro and stock classes.

Doug Kalitta Wins Second Countdown Rounds in Top Fuel

Scrappers Racing’s team owner and driver Mike Salinas is known to be fast but the Number One qualifier at zMax Dragway becoming the first driver in history to run 300 mph in 1/8th of mile setting both ends of the track record in qualifying for the 15th annual betway NHRA Carolina Nationals on Saturday to grab the $30,000 prize from Phillips Connect. But, this was the second round of the Countdown and Salinas was eliminated in Round One by Steve Torrence who posted a 3.701 ET to advance.

Torrence would post a 3.690-seconds elapsed time to eliminate Antron Brown followed by a 3.685 ET over Tony Schumacher to reach the final round. In the bottom bracket, Doug Kalitta who is still looking for his first NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series World Championship advanced to final with a 3.658 ET, a 3.692 ET and 3.684ET. Kalitta would claim his second straight playoff win with a 3.662 ET to Torrence’s 3.695 ET and heads to the NHRA Midwest Nationals with a 63-point lead over Torrence.

Bob Tasca III Doubles Up at Betway Carolina Nationals

Robert Hight came to zMAX Raceway with points lead after winning Round One of the Countdown at the Pep Boys Nationals. Driving the John Force Racing Chevrolet Camaro, Hight was the Number One qualifier with a track record run of 3.824-seconds elapsed time at 330.15 mph to top Matt Hagan’s quickest run of the season the night before. Hight had a bye in the opening round of eliminations. He would eliminate Paul Lee and Alex Laughlin to advance the Funny Car final.

Tasca had a tough road to the Funny Car final round having eliminated Alexis Dejoria, Terry Haddock and Matt Hagan enroute to a matchup with Hight. Tasca got the job done with an impressive holeshot with a .04-seconds advantage enroute to a 3.933 ET at 329.26 mph to Hight’s slightly quicker 3.932 elapsed time at 326.95 mph pass. Tasca’s holeshot victory over Hight earned the Ford Mustang driver his third Wally of the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Tasca moved to second in points behind Hight.

Artwork courtesy of NHRA


NHRA Midwest Nationals

The Countdown to the Championship continues as NHRA teams head to Madison, IL for NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway on September 29 through October 1. The FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod series will rejoin the nitro and stock classes at the next round outside St. Louis.


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