Justin Ashley won his first round of eliminations at the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals. (photos of a river)
As the first round of the Top Fuel competitors pulled out in the starting lanes of zMAX Dragway, the track temp was slated to be the coolest of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing season at 86 degrees.
He has signaled the green light for elimination rounds during the 14th Annual Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals.
The red, white, and blue stands slowly disappeared behind the growing crowd as the engines immediately set off.
Brittany Force was in the second duo to hit the track, facing Spencer Massey on her Flav-R-Pac bike, and took the spotlight on the win with a time of 3.670 seconds.
“Man, to turn that light into the first round, you pumped,” Force said in her post-filter interview.
Points leader Justin Ashley had a smile on his face during the early morning driver’s lead, using the positive energy of his #1 qualifying position to claim a first-round win over Alex Laughlin.
Ashley’s 3.688sec Eastern time was the fastest in the Top Fuel session.
The pressure was on Mike Salinas as he watched his two biggest challengers in the championship battle for their respective wins. The Scrappers Racing dragster was matched by Leah Pruett’s Tony Stewart Racing machine, and luckily for him, he clocked 3.696 seconds ET and a victory.
Josh Hart, Clay Millikan, Doug Kalita, Antron Brown and Steve Torrence were the remaining winners of the first round of the playoffs.
The funny cars were then rolling on the bar.
The first match was between Alexis DeJoria and JR Todd, with DeJoria racing to her career best speed of 334.7 mph and taking the win by 3.878 seconds ET.
“It’s also my best ET. I’m really excited about that all the way,” DeJoria said. “We really needed to win that round.”
Massive points leader Robert Haight was next, facing Jim Campbell. To no one’s surprise, Hight continued his hot streak and stole the winning light from Campbell, clocking in 3.869 seconds ET.
The iconic funny car driver John Force took his place in the left pit lane, to take the elimination round solo as the No. 1 qualifier at the weekend. Fortunately, he secured the winning light before sprinting off the starting line, as the John Force Racing machine ran into trouble and clocked a 7.621sec ET.
Next, Ron Capps, third in the points chase, lit the winning light against Blake Alexander, turning in 3.889 seconds ET in his fun NAPA Auto Parts sponsored car.
Other first-round winners included second-man in points Matt Hagan and Chad Green.
Pro Stock competitors started rolling into their trails as track people removed clutch dust from the intake bar.
Kyle Koretsky started a hot streak early in the Carolina Nationals, beating Mason McGaha by 6.563 seconds ET. The KB Racing driver is chasing his second win of his career – his first came here in Charlotte last year.
Smoke rose in the air as another KB Racing horse burned it down at the track.
While facing Chris McGaha, Greg Anderson clocked 6.558secs ET as his main challenger for the title, and the weekend’s #1 seed Erica Enders was watching from the starting line.
Choosing to go through the last eliminations, Enders confidently entered her showdown against Larry Morgan. At a top speed of 210 mph, Enders sprinted to 6.550 seconds ET and took the winning light, marking the lowest ET of the session.
Christian Quadra, Matt Hartford, Dallas Glenn, Troy Coughlin Jr., and Aaron Stanfield had back-to-back victories.