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Four-Wide NHRA Event Thunders Into North Carolina
Not slowing down at all, 72-year-old Funny Car driver John Force and his Peak Blue DEF Chevrolet Camaro team prevailed in the 4-wide competition at North Carolina to pick up his 155th career event win, all in the Funny Car category. Photo By Mike Burghardt

The NRHA Camping World Drag Racing Series competes at two 4-Wide events each season. The Strip at Las Vegas (near Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas) and Z-Max Raceway in Concord, North Carolina. Both tracks are large facilities owned by Bruton Smith (as is Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, CA). During the spring events, the event are run “4-wide”, with all four lanes being used each round and action this past weekend played out in North Carolina.

Instead of two by two elimination (four rounds), the event is run four cars at a time (three rounds of racing). Normally, two cars go down the track with the winner being the first car to the finish line. In the 4-wide format, four cars go down the track at a time with the first and second cars to the finish line advancing to the next round.

Mike Salinas of Pleasanton, California was able to put it all together with his PEP Boys/Scrappers Racing top fuel dragster. In the top fuel final round quad, he lined up against Josh Hart, Cameron Ferre and Spencer Massey. Massey came in with reaction times in the 0.020 to 0.045 second range all weekend and a strong running car to boot. Ferre also had a decent running car throughout eliminations. Ferre was coming into his first ever final round appearance and as with Massey, was not a regular competitor on the NHRA tour. Josh Hart, who won two events in his 2021 rookie season was the fourth car. Salinas (0.068), who has worked hard to improve his reaction times, left third behind Massey (0026) and Hart (0.053) but thundered to a 3.708 at 334.00 mph win, his second of the season. Ferre finished second with a 3.986 at 272.86 mph. Both Massey and Hart lost traction before halftrack, finishing third and fourth. The win moved Salinas to fourth in the championship points race, 17 points behind Brittany Force. Steve Torrence and Brittany Force were both eliminated in the first and second rounds, respectively.

In Funny Car, John Force and his Peak Blue DEF Chevrolet Camaro team showed that he was still at the top of his game. Whoever said that “you slow down as you get older” obviously never met John Force, who is now 72 years of age and can still drive a 330 mph plus 11,000 HP race car with the best of them. He qualified number one with a 3.850 at 334.24 mph and ran strong throughout the event. His reaction times were like those of a driver about half his age, often getting off the starting line first or second in his elimination round quad group. He ran with or quicker than everyone throughout eliminations and left with or ahead of nearly every other driver each round. In the final he would line up against three-time champion Robert Hight, two-time and defending 2021 champion Ron Capps and Mike McIntire Jr. Force left first with a 0.051 reaction time and ran 3.914 at 326.86 mph to capture his 155th career event win (all in Funny Car), more than any other racer in NHRA history. Hight started to haze the tires as he neared the finish line, while Capps and McIntire both lost traction early in the run. With the win, Force moves up to fourth in the point standings behind Matt Hagan, Robert Hight and Ron Capps after six events.

Steve Johnson took over the point lead from Karen Stoffer in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category by winning his second consecutive event in dominating style (he recently won in Houston). In the final, he used a strong 6.740 at 200.65 mph to take out Karen Stoffer, Eddie Krawiec and Joey Gladstone in his final round quad, moving himself six points ahead of Stoffer in the championship battle. This was his 13th career event win in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

tf salinas
Taking a victory in the Top Fuel category in North Carolina at the NHRA 4-wide event was Mike Salinas of Pleasanton, able to put it all together with his PEP Boys/Scrappers Racing dragster. The win moved Salinas to fourth in the championship points race. Photo By Jeff Burghardt