Story By: SCOTT SMITH / NHRA – CONCORD, NC – One of the most unique experiences in all of motorsports will again return to the facility known as the “Bellagio of dragstrips,” as zMAX Dragway hosts the thrill ride known as NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series four-wide drag racing during the ninth annual NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, April 27-29.
This is the sixth of 24 events during the 2018 NHRA season and annually serves as one of the biggest spectacles in the sport. The excitement of four 10,000-horsepower nitro-burning machines powering down the dragstrip at the same time is an experience unlike any other, providing a sensory overload that can’t be matched in drag racing.
The best in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will all compete in the four-lane event to hold up Wally trophies at zMAX Dragway. Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Chris McGaha (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners. The race will also be televised on FOX Sports 1, including a broadcast of the finals on Sunday, April 29 at 6:00 p.m. (ET).
Torrence captured his first victory at zMAX Dragway last season, and the Top Fuel star finished his banner campaign with eight wins. He already has a win in 2018 as he hunts his first world title. Brittany Force, the 2016 race winner, captured her first world title last season and is after her first victory this season. She’ll look to get it against class standouts Antron Brown, who has five wins at zMAX Dragway, including four-wide wins in 2014 and 2015, Clay Millican, Leah Pritchett, Tony Schumacher, Gainesville winner Richie Crampton and Pomona winner Doug Kalitta.
Longtime Funny Car standout Capps picked up his first victory in the four-wide scenario last year, one of eight wins in 2017 for the 2016 world champion. Capps nearly had back-to-back world titles, but Robert Hight tracked him down. Hight also has five career wins at zMAX Dragway, including two Four-Wide Nationals wins. Other stars in the loaded class include Pomona winner and points leader Matt Hagan, Gainesville winner Jack Beckman, Phoenix winner Courtney Force, 2016 event winner Tim Wilkerson, John Force, Del Worsham and class newcomer Shawn Langdon.
McGaha already has a victory in 2018 in Pro Stock, heading to Charlotte with plenty of early-season momentum. The defending NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals winner will look to make it two straight in the class, facing off with the likes of defending world champion and points leader Bo Butner, Gainesville winner Tanner Gray, who was NHRA’s top rookie in 2017, Greg Anderson, who has two Four-Wide Nationals wins, Jason Line, who is second in points, Drew Skillman, Erica Enders, Jeg Coughlin, Vincent Nobile, Alex Laughlin and Deric Kramer.
LE Tonglet won the first of six races during his standout 2017 season in Pro Stock Motorcycle, picking up his second career win at zMAX Dragway. He’ll be one of many trying to track down defending champion Eddie Krawiec, who won the first event of the year in Gainesville. Others expected to be in the mix include six-time Charlotte winner Andrew Hines, Hector Arana Jr., who made the first 200 mph pass in class history in Gainesville, Scotty Pollacheck, Hector Arana, Steve Johnson and two-time world champ Matt Smith, who won the first four-wide event in 2010.
The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service makes the third of 12 stops in 2018 at zMAX Dragway. Mike Castellana is the defending winner in the Pro Mod class, which made its four-wide racing debut last year. The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport.
Along with the exciting on-track action, the NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals will honor first responders with NHRA’s “Salute to First Responders” celebration.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:00 and 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 27 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, April 28, at 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday, April 29.