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NHRA To Go Four-Wide For Real

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 21 2010
Last year, they went four-wide for fun at Zmax. This year, it will be for real. (File photo courtesy of the NHRA)

Last year, they went four-wide for fun at zMAX. This year, it will be for real. (File photo courtesy of the NHRA)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Four-wide drag racing will go from the talking stage to the staging lanes in historic fashion during the 2010 National Hot Rod Association season.

For the first time in NHRA national event history, qualifying and eliminations for Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle at an NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event will be conducted four-wide instead of two, officials announced Thursday.

The inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals is scheduled for March 25-28 at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte. NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series competition will be conducted in the traditional two-lane format, running some classes in the left two lanes and others in the right two lanes to assist with lane preparation and consistency.

The announcement comes just four months after NHRA conducted its first four-lane exhibition at a national event, where nearly 30,000 horsepower blasted down zMAX Dragway during the September running of the NHRA Carolinas Nationals. In separate eighth-mile runs, four Top Fuel dragsters and four Funny Cars competed in the four-wide event with everyone standing on their feet to witness an unprecedented five-seconds of competition.

“We had so much positive feedback from our fans and drivers after the four-lane exhibition last September that we were comfortable adding this unique twist to an official NHRA national event,” NHRA president Tom Compton said. “Once again, NHRA will be making history at zMAX Dragway. With all four of our Full Throttle Series categories competing in four-wide racing it will certainly be a spectacular event to see.”

Those remarks were echoed by O. Bruton Smith, chairman/CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., and a longtime proponent of the four-wide concept.

“Watching these nitro cars thunder four-wide down the world’s only four-lane concrete strip is exactly what we had in mind when we built zMAX Dragway,” Smith said. “We’re making history with horsepower at the ‘Bellagio of drag strips’ and race fans will be treated to a competition unlike anything that’s ever been seen before. This will blow them away.”

Rules for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway will be as follows:

* Qualifying will be conducted using four lanes

* Each category winner will be determined in three rounds of eliminations

* The two drivers to cross the finish line first in each of the four first rounds of eliminations will advance to the second round

* The two drivers to cross the finish line first in each of the two second rounds of eliminations will advance to the final round

* Final rounds will feature four drivers in each category, and the single driver to cross the finish line first will be declared winner of the race, the second runner-up and so on.

The NHRA Carolinas Nationals, Sept. 16-19 _ the second of six races in NHRA’s Countdown to 1 playoffs _will continue to be conducted using only two lanes at zMAX Dragway.

Tickets for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals are available by calling (800) 455-3267 or by visiting www.charlottemotorspeedway.com. The inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals is the fourth of 17 races in the NHRA Countdown to 10, which leads to the crowning of champions in the four professional classes. ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.

– John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 21 2010
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