Friday, May 24, 2024

NHRA Carolina Nationals Sportsman Preview

CONCORD, N.C. – 300 of the best sportsman racers descended on zMax Dragway this week for the NHRA Carolina Nationals.  After battling weather and parking delays earlier in the week, sportsman competitors finally hit the track today for qualifying and time trials.  Racers are gearing up as final eliminations kick off tomorrow morning for Competition Eliminator, Super Stock, Stock Eliminator, Super Comp, Super Gas, Top Sportsman, and Top Dragster.  The forecast for the rest of the weekend looks to be clear with cool temperatures which is a perfect combination for fast E.T.’s.

Saturday’s schedule includes running each class down to just the finalist which is a definite departure from the normal national event schedule.  Typically NHRA would leave the semifinals and finals for the “Big Show” on Sunday but it looks as though the only sportsman racers that will make it to Sunday are the finalist in each class.

At each national event DragChamp’s sportsman event preview includes an overview of the top stories from each class along with the now famous DragChamp Picks.  Beginning with the recent U.S. Nationals we have correctly picked at least one champion from each national event.  Check out our picks below and let us know who you’d pick to win.

Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series

Before we get into this year’s picks, let’s recap the 2017 event winners.

Frank Aragona – Competition Eliminator

Nick Chiles – Super Stock

Kenneth Stott – Stock Eliminator

John Labbous – Super Comp

Dean Mathauser – Super Gas

Jerry Albert – Top Sportsman

Todd Ewing – Top Dragster


2018 Event Preview –

Competition Eliminator – 17 Cars

After an 0 for 2 final round finish at Dallas last week, David Rampy will be a man on a mission at Charlotte as he chases win number 100.  With cool weather scheduled for the weekend, the winner will need to manage his index while getting to the stripe first.  No one is better than managing his index than Rampy so he should have a great shot at number 100 this week.

My Pick to Win:

David Rampy – No surprise here, David has been on fire lately and I don’t look for that to change this weekend.

Super Stock – 55 Cars

Brandon Bakies, the Super Stock winner in Dallas last week, made the long haul to Charlotte from Louisiana this week looking to add to his national points total.  Bakies win last week put him in the middle of the Super Stock national championship battle and it looks like he’s not afraid of a little windshield time in order to gain some points.  In order to improve his score, Bakies will need to win the fourth round at Charlotte.

Top 3 Picks to Win:

Dan Fletcher – Dan has practically owned zMax Dragway over the years, it would be foolish to bet against him this week.

Anthony Bertozzi – As Luke Bogacki would say, “17 world championships can’t be wrong”.

Byron Worner – I could pick either of the Worner brothers and be spot on as one or both tend to be near the final at most of the Charlotte nationals.

Stock Eliminator – 66 Cars

While there are no points implications on the line this week in Stock Eliminator, the field is stacked with heavy hitters.

Top 3 Picks to Win:

Anthony Fetch – Fetch pulled out a runner-up finish for me at Reading and I’m banking on him finding one more win light in Charlotte.

Dan Fletcher – Once again, it’s hard to bet against Fletch at Charlotte so I’m doubling down.

Daniel Young – This young man is killing it in Stock this year, he’s due for a national event win.

Super Comp – 59 Cars

The big story in Super Comp is whether Chris Garretson can extend his points lead over the class.  Garretson and his top-end throttle stop, 125 mph dragster will need to win the second round in order to improve his national score.  A few weeks ago it didn’t look like Garretson’s current total would hold up through the end of the year but numerous racer’s across the country have failed to pass him and now it looks as though Garretson is in great shape to capture the national championship.  A late round finish this weekend could seal the deal.

Top 3 Picks to Win:

Corey Manuel – Talented racer that wins on a frequent basis, could be his time to shine on the national stage.

Jason Kenney – One of the best at the top-end, tends to go tons of rounds.

John Labbous – Look for the defending event champion to make some noise this week.

Super Gas – 57 Cars

The national points lead could change hands this weekend as Ray Sawyer, who sits 38 points back of current leader Devin Isenhower, looks to improve on a third round finish.  Sawyer would need to make the final round in order to take the lead which is a good possibility after he won in Reading last month.  Jim Perry, Steve Hoyt, and Iggie Boicesco will also be on hand as they look to solidify their Top 10 positions.

Top 3 Picks to Win:

Steve Furr – Tough racer that has been quiet on the national scene this year, he’s due for a win.

Rusty Cook – Another tough racer that has tons of experience and tends to win frequently.

Steve Hoyt – Indy runner-up has been laying down killer laps everywhere he goes and a super nice guy too.

Top Sportsman – 25 Cars

This week’s Top Sportsman field is a little light on entries but is full of heavy hitters.  JR Lobner left Dallas and headed straight for Charlotte as he needs to pick up an additional seven points to take over the national points lead.  Lobner came up one round short last week in Dallas and hopes to make the long haul to the East Coast worth it this week.  Chip Rumis, Ramona, Calif., also made the trip from Dallas to Charlotte this week.

Top 2 Picks to Win:

Lester Johnson – Super cool, super fast ’55 Chevy.  Should be fun to watch.

John Taylor – Taylor is always a tough out in his ’99 Dakota pickup.

Top Dragster – 28 Cars

While the Top Dragster championship is all but over, there is a tough field entered at Charlotte.  The field even includes two Division 7 racers this week as Taylor Vetter and Peyton Januik made the trip from Las Vegas.

Top 2 Picks to Win:

Jeff Strickland – Former world champ knows how to turn on win lights.

Steve Furr – I’m doubling down on Fuzz this week cause he’s a bad dude.

That wraps up the sportsman event preview for the NHRA Carolina Nationals.  Visit DragChamp for daily sportsman racing updates from each NHRA national event.  DragChamp is your source for NHRA race results.

Gary Don Free

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