NHRA Carolina Nationals Coming With Great Weather Forecast

Tony Schumacher with a few items for the collection

'The Sarge' Speaks: Tony Schumacher Previews NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by WIX Filters

Tony Schumacher will chase his third victory in this weekend's NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by WIX Filters at zMAX Dragway

Eight-time NHRA champion Tony Schumacher will chase his third NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by WIX Filters victory this weekend at zMAX Dragway; Schumacher is in contention for the Top Fuel championship heading into the fourth of six Countdown races

Forecasts include clear weather, cool temperatures and plenty of sunshine for all three days of drag racing action; Single-day tickets start at just $25 with three-day passes (including parking) at just $99 while kids get in FREE; Tickets, camping and upgrades are available online or by calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267)

CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 11, 2018) – Tony Schumacher knows that a Top Fuel victory in this weekend's 11th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by WIX Filters at zMAX Dragway could springboard the eight-time NHRA champion to a ninth title. The pathway to the winner's circle, however, won't be easy for the man known as "Sarge," who previewed the race in a special media luncheon on Thursday at The Speedway Club.

Cooler temperatures and clear weather for this weekend's fourth race of the six-event NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series' Countdown to the Championship promises to add an air of unpredictability. Drivers will have to go full throttle and tune their 11,000-horsepower machines to the hilt in order to grab a coveted zMAX Dragway Wally.

"You're going to see the best side-by-side racing," said Schumacher, the driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster for Don Schumacher Racing. "When it's cool, the races come down to thousandths of a second. The races are won and lost by inches. …These cool conditions (make for) a throw-down, outstanding race. It's going to be great. The racing's going to be worth every nickel you pay for (a ticket) – probably even more.

"We're going to have to seriously take a look at qualifying and how we want to position ourselves because at the end of the day, winning the championship is the only thing. Finishing No. 2 is useless. No. 3 doesn't matter. We've got to cowboy up. Now is the time."

Fast Facts: NHRA Carolina Nationals Presented by WIX Filters
11th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by WIX Filters, the 22nd of 24 events on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. As temperatures cool down, the pressure heats up for Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle drivers in the fourth of six events in the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.

WHERE:zMAX Dragway- Track is located on Hwy 29 off I-85 at exit 49 (Speedway Blvd.) in the Concord, N.C. area.
WHEN:Friday through Sunday, Oct. 12-14

FRIDAY, Oct. 12
7:30 a.m.:  Gates Open
8:00 a.m.:  Sportsman Qualifying
2:45 p.m.:   Pro Stock and Nitro Qualifying
5:15 p.m.:   Pro Stock and Nitro Qualifying

7:30 a.m.:    Gates Open
8:00 a.m.:    Sportsman Eliminations
12:45 p.m.:  Pro Stock and Nitro Qualifying
3:15 p.m.:    Pro Stock and Nitro Qualifying

SUNDAY, Oct. 14
8:30 a.m.:    Gates Open
10:45 a.m.:  Track Walk and Pre-Race Ceremonies
12:00 p.m.:   Pro Stock and Nitro Eliminations

Friday, Oct. 12, FS1 will televise an hour and a half of LIVE qualifying at 5:30 p.m. (ET).
Saturday,Oct. 13, FS1 will televise a re-air of Friday's qualifying show at 7:30 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Oct. 14, FS1 will televise three hours of LIVE eliminations at 2 p.m. (ET).

2017 EVENT WINNERS:Doug Kalitta, Top Fuel; Robert Hight, Funny Car; Tanner Gray, Pro Stock; Eddie Krawiec, Pro Stock Motorcycle.

MOST VICTORIES:Andrew Hines, 3, PSM, Antron Brown, 2, TF; Spencer Massey, 2, TF; Jack Beckman, 2, FC; Robert Hight, 2, FC; Greg Anderson, 2, PS; Mike Edwards, 2, PS

Top Fuel:
3.689 sec, Brittany Force, April '18; 332.18 mph, Spencer Massey, April '12
Funny Car:3.851 sec, Courtney Force, April '17; 333.91 mph, Robert Hight, April '17
Pro Stock:6.455 sec, Jason Line, March '15; 215.48 mph, Greg Anderson, March '15
Pro Stock Motorcycle:6.792 sec, Eddie Krawiec, April '17; 199.88 mph, Hector Arana Jr, March '15

Top Fuel:
3.628 sec, Clay Millican, Feb. '18, Pomona; 336.57 mph, Tony Schumacher, Feb. '18, Phoenix
Funny Car:3.793 sec, Robert Hight, Aug. '17, Brainerd; 339.87 mph, Robert Hight, July '17, Sonoma
Pro Stock:6.455 sec, Jason Line, March '15, Charlotte; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May '14, Englishtown
Pro Stock Motorcycle:6.728 sec, Andrew Hines, Oct '12, Reading; 201.01 mph, Hector Arana Jr., March '18, Gainesville

Top 10 Can't-Miss Attractions During This Weekend's NHRA Carolina Nationals

CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 9, 2018) – zMAX Dragway, the Bellagio of drag strips, is geared up to host the 11th running of the NHRA Carolina Nationals this weekend. The fourth of six races in the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship offers a full-throttle spectacle of speed, with the top 10 drivers from Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle battling for coveted championship points as the 2018 playoffs wind down.

The full-throttle NHRA Carolina Nationals return Oct. 12-14, at zMAX Dragway; The top 10 drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle battle in the crucial fourth race in the Countdown to the Championship

Vintage dragster displays, a sprawling Fan Zone and Sunday track walk add to the unparalleled on-track action for a can't-miss weekend at the Bellagio of drag strips

Three-day passes start at $99 and every ticket is a pit pass. With the purchase of an adult ticket, kids 13 and under get in FREE; Tickets, camping and upgrades are available online or by calling 

zMAX Dragway's three-day showcase of raw power and blistering speed is like nothing else in sports, and with cooler temperatures in this weekend's forecast, the table is set for record-breaking runs. The 10,000-horsepower machines will barrel down the dragway at speeds greater than 330 mph.

Here's a look at some things fans can't afford to miss when taking in the sensory overload that is the weekend of the NHRA Carolina Nationals:

1) School is in Session: First time at an NHRA event? Go to Nitro School, where some of the biggest names in NHRA drag racing help novices become nitro know-it-alls. Nitro School is an awesome, fan-based experience where fans can learn the ins and outs of what they're about to witness. In Nitro School, NHRA first-timers can will hear from drivers and other racing personalities about things like engine teardown as well as what it feels like to go from 0 to 330 mph in less than four seconds.
Class is in session at 10:45 a.m. on Saturday morning in Nitro Alley.

2) Take a Trip Down Memory Lane: A new addition to this year's NHRA Carolina Nationals, fans can take a trip back in time with a display of historic hot rods raced by drag racing legends Don "The Snake" Prudhomme, Tom "The Mongoose" McEwen, Bruce Larson and Jerry Gwynn. Called "Nostalgia Corner," the display will sit under the zMAX Dragway pavilion, just inside the main gates. Keeping with the "throwback" theme, fans can also peruse a collection of classic street cars as part of a fan display in the pits.

3) Nitro Alley: Fun Delivered: Nitro Alley is every fan's one-stop destination for all things entertainment. Grab the latest souvenirs, meander through dozens of interactive vendor displays or tour the sprawling, 27-acre pit area and get up close and personal with hundreds of high-powered race cars; it's the place to be. The best part: it is included with the purchase of any NHRA Carolina Nationals ticket. When fans hear the newly added air raid siren, they'll want to get back to their seats, as that signals the start of Pro qualifying (Friday and Saturday) or the next round of eliminations (Sunday) are about to begin.

4) Walk A Quarter-Mile In Their Shoes: Fans with a Sunday ticket to the NHRA Carolina Nationals will have a rare chance to join drivers and drag racing personalities for the Mello Yello Track Walk Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Just minutes before drivers take to the lanes for the opening round of eliminations, fans can walk the Bellagio of drag strip where history will be made and championship hopes for four lucky drivers will blossom later that afternoon. A new-look driver introduction called Race Day Review will provide a new twist to Sundays as some of the stars of the weekend hold a fan Q&A on the start line during driver introductions. Sunday will also feature a First Responder Parade and salute to service men and women.

5) The Ultimate Race Day Upgrade: For just $99, fans can upgrade their tickets to be a part of the Top Eliminator Club. The ultimate race day experience includes daily meal service, driver appearances, VIP gifts and more. Join fan Q&As and autograph sessions with drag racing superstars like John and Brittany Force, among others, throughout the weekend. Fans also receive access to a VIP rooftop viewing area, VIP parking and an exclusive Top Eliminator Club t-shirt.

6) Party in the Pavilion: Campers from across the country will converge on zMAX Dragway for the NHRA Carolina Nationals, and they'll kick off the weekend with a fun and festive camper appreciation party on Thursday from 5-7 p.m. Located in the pavilion just inside Gate 1, the camper party will feature food, giveaways, yard games, show cars and driver appearances by Jack Beckman, Blake Alexander and Terry McMillen, as well as other motorsports personalities.

7) Fueled by Fun Foods: With all there is to see and do throughout the weekend, fans are sure to work up an appetite, and zMAX Dragway has them covered with a bevy of unique and fun food options. Food trucks are all the rage, and what better way to fuel up between rounds than with a quick bite? Located just behind the John Force grandstands, new food trucks like Zaroob and Rays Philly Grill will serve up a little something for everyone, from kabobs and falafel to classic Philly cheese steaks and steak fries. Fans looking for something a little more upscale can swing by The Speedway Club, which is open for dinner Friday and Saturday nights from 5:30-9:30 p.m.

8) A Taste of NASCAR: It may be all about drag racing at zMAX Dragway, but at America's Home for Racing, visitors can also immerse themselves in all things NASCAR with a tour of the iconic Charlotte Motor Speedway. One- and two-hour options mean race fans can experience the famed speedway from pit road to Victory Lane, take laps on the high-banked corners or get a sneak peek of the Performance Racing Network studios. Tours are available daily on Friday and Saturday for as little as $12. Fans can book by calling 704-455-3223 or at the Tours Desk on the second floor of Smith Tower.

9) Sunday Funday: Elimination Sunday is where contenders and pretenders are separated. The NHRA Carolina Nationals is the fourth race in the Countdown to the Championship, so drivers and teams have no room for error in their final push toward a championship. As the weekend comes to a close, the pressure will rise. Countdown contenders will be leaving it all on the line to walk away from zMAX with a win and a chance at a championship title at season's end. Fans won't want to miss a second of the high-speed, high-adrenaline drama.

10) More Memories to be Made: With a new race date, fun new attractions and new opportunities for great family fun, this year's NHRA Carolina Nationals promises to be one hot ticket. To be sure they've got a seat for the 2019 edition, fans are encouraged to renew their tickets on-site this weekend. Just $10 down reserves a seat for next year. On qualifying renewals, fans will have their choice of a free gift, including a tumbler, Bluetooth headset, waterproof speaker or other great gifts. Tickets can be renewed at booths near Gate 1 or Gate 2 throughout the weekend.

TICKETS: Tickets, camping and upgrades for NHRA Carolina Nationals event are available at the gates, by visiting www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets/ or calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267). Don't miss a minute of the action with three day packages, starting at just $99, and kids 13 and under get in free with an adult ticket purchase. Every ticket is also a pit pass, allowing fans to enjoy the speed as well as up-close views of the fastest accelerating machines on the planet.

KEEP TRACK: Fans can connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway, zMAX Dragway and The Dirt Track at Charlotte by following on Twitter and Instagram or becoming a Facebook fan. Keep up with all the latest news and information with the Charlotte Motor Speedway mobile app.

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Funny Car Fan Favorite Tim Wilkerson Ready to Keep Impressive Playoff Run Going AtNHRA Carolina Nationals

CONCORD, N.C.– Tim Wilkerson has made the most out of a number of opportunities through the first half of the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, making life miserable for his Funny Car counterparts in the process. With three races remaining in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, the fan-favorite driver has no plans to stop doing that.

Starting the playoffs in 10th place, Wilkerson has jumped all the way to third in his 10,000-horsepower Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang heading into this weekend's 11th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway. He already has two final round appearances through three playoff races, playing the underdog role perfectly against the multi-car teams in the class.

"I really enjoy needling these guys I'm not supposed to needle," said Wilkerson, who has 21 career wins. "All of the fans do seem to think it's pretty cool and we enjoy that. It's what we come out here for. There's so many good cars in this class, anybody could be in this position. We've been fortunate enough to take advantage of some of the situations that have been there the first few races. We've been a little more aggressive and the team has really come around well."

Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year's winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including live final eliminations coverage starting at 2:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Oct. 14. It is the fourth of six races in the Countdown to the Championship and also the 22nd of 24 races in a 2018 season that has picked up considerable momentum in the last three races for Wilkerson.

But as good of a start as the veteran has had, he is working for more. He believes he should have won the final round in St. Louis against points leader Robert Hight, while a close second-round loss to Hight in Dallas allowed the defending world champion to extend his points lead to 50 points over J.R. Todd and 133 points against Wilkerson. Now, Wilkerson is focused on closing the season strong and picking up his first win since his Charlotte triumph at the four-wide spring race in 2016.

"I think (a win) would be good for the smiling faces on this team, and I would love for them to get one with the amount of effort being put in," Wilkerson said. "We've been close, but I think it would be good to get a win under our belts. If we can get J.R. and Robert out early, I think we can continue to keep things shook up by the time we get to Pomona. If you look at my history, when we race one, two, three weekends in a row I tend to get more positive, more focused, whatever you want to call it. To me, I really do a lot better and seem to thrive in those situations."

With the NHRA Carolina Nationals being the fourth race in a five-week stretch to open the Countdown to the Championship, Wilkerson hopes that will be true this weekend. Tommy Johnson Jr. is only three points behind him and Courtney Force is 22 points back of Wilkerson, but the underdog role has suited the longtime standout well over the years. He has already secured an 11th straight top-10 finish, and Wilkerson is feeling good and looking for more headed to Charlotte.

"It's good to see the look on the face of the team," Wilkerson said. "I've been spending a lot more time with each one of them and the clutch department has really come around the last 10 races. (Richard) Hartman watches everybody else when I can't and he's constantly catching the little mechanical problems. That's really went a long way in making the whole process better and it's made things a lot easier for me."

Top Fuel points leader Steve Torrence is undefeated in the playoffs, winning his third straight Countdown to the Championship race to open up a 103-point lead on Clay Millican.

Pro Stock points leader Gray, who has seven 2018 wins, continues his impressive season, as the second-year star holds an 89-point lead on Vincent Nobile.

Krawiec is after his first Pro Stock Motorcycle playoff win in 2018, as the defending champ tries to track down points leader LE Tonglet, who has a 47-point lead after his Dallas win.

The NHRA Carolina Nationals will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series, which will have its 11th of 12 races, as well as the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where the future stars of the sport earn their racing stripes.

Those in attendance will also have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with some of the biggest names in drag racing during the NHRA Legends Tour. This includes meet-and-greets, autograph sessions, and a variety of other activities. Legends scheduled to attend the NHRA Carolina Nationals include Jim Dunn, Frank Manzo and more.

As always, fans can 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 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 2:45 and 5:15 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Oct. 13, at 12:45 and 3:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 14.

To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-455-FANS (3267). Tickets also are available online at www.zmaxdragway.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.

WIX Filters Named Presenting Sponsor of NHRA Carolina Nationals

Forecasts include clear weather, cool temperatures and plenty of sunshine for all three days of drag racing action; Single-day tickets start at just $25 with three-day passes (including parking) at just $99 while kids get in FREE; Tickets, camping and upgrades are available online or by calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267)

CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 11, 2018) – WIX Filters, a world leader in oil filters, air filters and filter products for automotive, diesel, racing, off-road, agriculture and industrial applications, will serve as presenting sponsor of this weekend's 11th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by WIX Filters at zMAX Dragway.

From Friday to Sunday, the Bellagio of drag strips will play host to the dramatic fourth race of the six-event NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series' Countdown to the Championship, which determines the NHRA's champions in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle.

In addition to WIX Filters' presenting sponsorship of one of the NHRA's premier events, WIX Filters' Tundra Up promotion on Saturday will give away a 2018 Toyota Tundra Limited truck to a store sales manager who held a successful Filter Sale Day. The top three of each category will attend this weekend's race, where one lucky recipient will have the key to start the Toyota Tundra.

"Charlotte is close to our home base and we're thrilled to be partnering with zMAX Dragway as the presenting sponsor of such an illustrious NHRA event," said Jennifer Gibson, brand manager for WIX. "We're also very excited to be presenting the winner of our Tundra Up promotion on Saturday. Our customers show great passion for our brand and we can't wait to gift one lucky winner a brand-new Tundra."


John Davison

Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.

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Volume 2018, Issue 10, Posted 7:43 PM, 10.11.2018