Top Ten Compete at Countdown to the Championship

Maple Grove Raceway celebrates sixty years of continuous operation as a drag racing facility. After the track was lengthened to a quarter mile, it began hosting events for the National Hot Rod Association in 1964. For most of the drag strip’s history, the facility was owned and operated by the Alfred S. Stauffer family, but the 457-acre facility was purchased this year by veteran NHRA racer Kenny Koretsky and his family.

Koretsky, also affectionately known as Captain Chaos, is a resident of Buck County and competed as pro drag racer in IHRA and NHRA. His sons Kenny Jr and current NHRA Pro Stock driver Kyle Koretsky are both involved in the family’s racing business. Kyle competed over the weekend in the opening round of the NHRA Countdown to the Championship. After qualifying third in Pro Stock, he was eliminated in a semifinal matchup against the eventual winner Erica Enders.

After the recent U.S. Nationals, the top ten racers in the points standings in each of the NHRA’s four professional categories, which includes Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle, were selected for the Countdown to the Championship. The “playoffs” gives these NHRA drivers six playoff races to compete for the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Championship. The 2022 Countdown started at the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway over the weekend.


Austin Prock Back On Track in NHRA Top Fuel

To no one’s surprise, Brittany Force stormed her way through qualifying as the number one qualifier for the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals. Then, in the opening round of eliminations, set the low ET of 3.698 seconds and top speed of the event at 337.66 mph. But, Force’s nemesis of late (Antron Brown) eliminated the JFR driver enroute to being eliminated in the semifinals by her JFR teammate Austin Prock. Prock had already knocked off Doug Foley and defending champion Steve Torrence.

Justin Ashley who assumed the 2022 points lead after Brown beat Force at the U.S. Nationals was the number two qualifier in Top Fuel for the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series at Maple Grove. Ashley earned his ticket to the final round matchup with Prock by defeating Jeffrey Chatterson, Doug Kalitta and Mike Salinas. Although Ashley grabbed a holeshot with a .034 reaction time, Prock posted a quicker 3.755 ET to Ashley’s 3.783 elapsed time as well as a faster speed of 329.67 mph to Ashley’s 326.49 mph run. Ashley now holds a 9-point lead over Force.


Robert Hight Wins Funny Car at Pep Boys Nationals

Nothing could be sweater for Robert Hight’s crew chief Jimmy Prock than to see his son Austin win in Nitro Top Fuel and his driver double-up with a win in Nitro Funny Car. To get the ball rolling, Hight earned the number one qualifying position, which came with a bye in Round One of eliminations. The JFR driver then eliminated Cruz Pedregon and Matt Hagan enroute to the Finals. Tim Wilkerson, the driver of the Levi, Ray & Shoup NHRA Funny Car Team for more than twenty years, had a much more exciting journey.

Behind the wheel of his LRS Ford Shelby Mustang, Wilkerson eliminated Alexis Dejoria, defending World Champion Ron Capps, and the legendary John Force who was making his 800th career start. Unfortunately, the engine in Wilkerson’s Mustang let go and his primary car was engulfed in flames in the runoff area following his semifinal win. Crew members of several teams (which is a common practice at NHRA events) worked feverishly to build a backup car from the frame up. When Wilkerson left the line early, Hight garnered his 60th win for his loyal Auto Club sponsor. Hight now leads Matt Hagan by 81 Countdown points.



Nitro drivers head south for the second round of the Countdown to the Championship for the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals on September 23-25 at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, NC.


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