Hart and Wilkerson Top NHRA Nitro Fields at zMAX Raceway
There was a tremendous feeling of pressure in pits for Sunday’s DeWalt NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, NC. With one race down and five to go in the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA nitro class drivers can almost see the finish for the 2021 World Championship. In Funny Car, Tim Wilkerson entered the weekend having won twice in the past three weeks, and after going winless for five years. Standout rookie Josh Hart missed qualifying for the Countdown after claiming victory at the Gatornationals in his first professional race in Top Fuel at a NHRA Camping World Drag Series presented by Pennzoil. Hart missed two midsummer races when several of his R+L Carriers Dragster crew members became ill. Nonetheless, the rookie sensation had promised he would rattle the cage during the championship chase.
Tim Wilkerson Upsets Matt Hagan’s Return to Funny Car
Last month, COVID-19 ruined Matt Hagan’s perfect attendance streak of 288 races in Funny Car at the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. After the sanctioning body agreed that any points scored by his replacement would count for Hagan during his absence, that round Hagan watched substitute driver Tommy Johnson Jr never have a chance due to rain during qualifying at Indianapolis.
Fortunately, Johnson Jr rebounded with a Funny Car win in Hagan’s Don Schumacher Racing Dodge//SRT Charger at Reading a week ago. Hagan qualified fifth but lost to Ron Capps who lost to Wilkerson in the semi. In the Finals, Wilkerson got off the tree with a .002-second reaction time and posted a 3.927 ET at 331.36 mph to Cruz Pedregon’s 3.947 ET at 325.53 mph.
Top Fuel Rookie Josh Impressive at Carolina Nationals
It seems like Brittany Force just shows up week after week as sets the fast qualifying time to earn another Number One qualifier in Top Fuel and the driver of the John Force Racing dragster didn’t disappoint at the DeWalt NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Raceway in Charlotte. In fact, it would be Force who would post the quickest run at 3.689 and fastest run at 332.67 mph for race weekend. In fact, when Brittany eliminated Steve Torrence in the semifinal round, it looked like her Wally to lose.
Josh Hart looked like a seasoned pro off the starting line all day. The rookie to Top Fuel knocked off Alex Laughlin, Mike Salinas and Justin Ashley to reach the finals. Moreover, Hart went 3.770 elapsed time at 324.12 mph in his 11,000-horsepower R&L Carriers dragster, which was enough to hold off Force’s 3.751 ET at 320.05 mph. Force had beaten Hart two times, but it seems as though the third time was the charm. One thing is for certain, Josh Hart definitely shook up the field with the Countdown for the Championship well under way.
NHRA Midwest Nationals
The Countdown to the Championship for the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series continues on September 24-26 at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, IL.