- Matt Hagan earned the provisional No. 1 qualifier following Friday night’s opening round of qualifying at zMAX Dragway with a track record-setting 3.825-second pass
- Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta backed up his Maple Grove win, joining Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) in earning No. 1 qualifiers
- Tickets can be purchased at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or fans can call 1-800-455-FANS. Single-day tickets are $40 for adults on Saturday and Sunday and children 12 and under are FREE.
CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 22, 2023) – Matt Hagan made the quickest Funny Car run of the year on Friday at zMAX Dragway, taking the provisional No. 1 spot for Tony Stewart Racing at the 15th annual betway NHRA Carolina Nationals.
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also the provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the second of six races in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Hagan powered to an impressive run of 3.825-seconds at 333.49 in his 11,000-horsepower, setting the track E.T. record in the Funny Car category. If it holds on Saturday, the three-time Funny Car world champ would earn his second No. 1 qualifier of the season and 50th in his career.
“That was a great moment right there,” Hagan said. “It’s just a great day and what a lap to lay down there. When they’re on a run like that and they’re digging, they’re a handful and that’s why we love driving these things. I’m so proud of my guys.”
Ron Capps, the defending back-to-back world champ, went 3.885 at 329.02 to go to second and Chad Green went to third after a 3.887 at 327.27. Robert Hight is 15th after suffering a huge explosion on the starting line during his run.
In Top Fuel, Doug Kalitta continued his recent hot streak, following up on last weekend’s 50th career win by going to the No. 1 spot with a standout performance of 3.665 at 331.61. The veteran is aiming for his second No. 1 spot this season and 53rd in his career.
“This car is happy to be on the track,” Kalitta said. “I’m just really happy for all my guys and this whole team. Charlotte is one of the greatest places we run and we’re hungry to keep this momentum going.”
Defending world champion Brittany Force went 3.686 at 332.75, putting her second after the opening qualifying session, and Justin Ashley’s 3.698 at 333.74 gave him the third spot.
For the second straight race, defending Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders enjoyed a strong start, taking the provisional No. 1 with a run of 6.509 at 210.18. Looking for a sixth world championship, Enders is after her third win of the season.
“The whole season started off really crappy for us, as everybody knows, and we just kept our heads down and went to work,” Enders said. “We said it’s not going to matter until the final six and here we are. We’re running really well again so we’re absolutely thankful for that. That’s what I mean but this is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to get to the end of the season and then perform as perfectly as possible in the Countdown.”
Camrie Caruso’s 6.525 puts her second and defending event winner Aaron Stanfield swiped third with a 6.533 at 210.50. Points leader Matt Hartford, who won the last two races, is currently eighth with a 6.548 at 209.43.
Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Gaige Herrera distanced himself from the rest of the field with a run of 6.731 at 200.44. Herrera, who is now second and 17 points behind Matt Smith, is seeking his 10th No. 1 qualifier of the year and first career Countdown to the Championship victory.
“We’re happy with that run and we’re just trying to get redemption back from Reading,” Herrera said. “It put us down a little bit, but it’s another race and we’re just looking forward to two more rounds of qualifying tomorrow and then raceday on Sunday. This is one of my favorite tracks and I’m just happy to be back here.”
Chip Ellis, who advanced to the final round last week, is currently second with a 6.817 at 199.05 and Eddie Krawiec took third thanks to his 6.825 at 197.94. Smith is 17th after one session.
Qualifying continues at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday at the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway.