It was less than a decade ago that zMAX Dragway first changed the game in NHRA competition, introducing the Four-Wide Nationals in April 2010 as a unique event on the series schedule. Since that initial, successful debut, the format has become so popular that Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a fellow Speedway Motorsports Inc. track, introduced it to its own drag strip just three weeks ago.
Having more four-wide drag races in April than the traditional head-to-head format is a fun anomaly, and just might make it a little easier to handicap today’s action. As we close out the first quarter of the 2018 NHRA season today, here are some of the interesting storylines to keep in mind:
Can the Force family sweep Top Fuel and Funny Car this weekend?
For just the third time in their respective careers, Brittany and Courtney Force have qualified on the top of their respective ladders on the same weekend. Both drivers led the qualifying charts on both Friday and Saturday; Brittany’s 3.689-second, 318.39 mph run topped Top Fuel, while Courtney’s 3.873, 332.92 mph pass from Friday paced the Funny Car field. Meanwhile, after an uncharacteristic DNQ last weekend in Houston, family patriarch John Force bounced back to qualify eighth for eliminations.
What will today’s Pro Stock Motorcycle eliminations look like?
The difficult thing to handicap about Pro Stock Motorcycle is the fact that its schedule is so much more limited than Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock. The bikes have only hit the drag strip once this season, at the Gatornationals in March, where Eddie Krawiec took the victory in the final over Andrew Hines. Krawiec qualified second on Saturday, but it was LE Tonglet, who fell to Krawiec all the way back in the first round in Gainesville, who qualified first in the field. Will he exact revenge in the elimination rounds?
Which Las Vegas four-wide winner is most likely to repeat in Charlotte?
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), J.R. Todd (Funny Car), and Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) won the last time we went four-wide, as The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosted its first event of the kind three weeks ago. Of the three, only Todd went back-to-back last weekend in Houston, but all four drivers qualified in the top four for today’s action. Nobile’s third place was best of the trio; Todd, meanwhile, has to face Bob Tasca III, Shawn Langdon, and Jack Beckman in round one—an unenviable task, to say the least.