The National Hot Rod Associations Countdown to the Championship has arrived and it gets underway this weekend with the OReilly Nationals at Concords zMax Dragway.
The first of the six-race countdown the NHRAs playoffs are similar to NASCARs Chase for the Cup gets underway Friday with qualifying in four classes. Antron Brown (Top Fuel dragster), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock car) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock motorcycle) are the top seeds. New champions are guaranteed in the two nitro classes: 2011 Top Fuel champ Del Worsham retired and Funny Car winner Matt Hagan didnt make this seasons countdown.
Heres what to watch for on a zMax track where four of eight national records have been set two of which still stand from this event in 2011.
Top Fuel dragster
Standings: 1. Antron Brown (2,110); 2. Spencer Massey (2,080); 3. Tony Schumacher (2,070); 4. Steve Torrence (2,060); 5. Doug Kalitta (2,050); 6. Morgan Lucas (2,040); 7. Shawn Langdon (2,030); 8. Brandon Bernstein (2,020); 9. David Grubnic (2,010); 10. Bob Vandergriff (2,000).
Whos hot: Brown has won two of the last four races (Denver, Sonoma, Calif.) and seems primed to make a strong run at his first championship. Hes been close before, finishing second twice (2001 and 06) and third last season.
Need to know: Schumacher, a seven-time champion, ended a 32-race winless streak when he won at Bristol, Tenn., earlier this season. He followed that up with a victory last week at Indianapolis.
Standings: 1. Ron Capps (2,110); 2. Robert Hight (2,080); 3. Jack Beckman (2,070); 4. Mike Neff (2,060); 5. Johnny Gray (2,050); 6. Courtney Force (2,040); 7. Cruz Pedegron (2,030); 8. John Force (2,020); 9. Jeff Arend (2,010); 10. Tim Wilkerson (2,000).
Whos hot: Mike Neff brings momentum to the race, having won for a third time last week at Indianapolis, and sits in fourth place in the standings. Only Robert Hight (four) and points leader Ron Capps (three) have won more than Neff.
Need to know: Wilkerson slipped into the countdown by seven points over Hagan after making it to the final round in Indy. Wilkerson made it despite a 10-point deduction for an oil violation in his finals loss to Neff.
Pro Stock car
Standings: 1. Allen Johnson (2,110); 2. Jason Line (2,080); 3. Greg Anderson (2,070); 4. Erica Enders (2,070); 5. Vincent Nobile (2,050); 6. Mike Edwards (2,040); 7. Ron Krisher (2,030); 8. V Gaines (2,020); 9. Larry Morgan (2,010); 10. Jeg Coughlin (2,000).
Whos hot: Although she didnt win at Indy losing in the final against Dave Connolly Enders has won three of the last seven races and is fourth in the standings.
Need to know: Defending champ Line has won just once, but has been as consistent as anybody. Hes second in points behind Johnson.
Pro Stock motorcycle
Standings: 1. Eddie Krawiec (2,110); 2. Andrew Hines (2,080); 3. Hector Arana Jr. (2,070); 4. Hector Arana Sr. (2,060); 5. Karen Stoffer (2,050); 6. Scotty Pellacheck (2,040); 7. GT Tonglet (2,030); 8. Michael Ray ( 2,020); 9. Shawn Gann (2,010); 10. Matt Smith (2,000).
Whos hot: Krawiec (six) and Hines (four) have combined for all 10 victories on the motorcycle circuit. Hines (Indianapolis) has the most recent triumph.
Need to know: Either of the Aranas Hector Sr. or Hector Jr. could be a factor. Hector Sr. beat Krawiec in last weeks semifinals before losing to Hines.
Want to go?
OReilly Nationals zMax Dragway
Tickets: www. charlottemotorspeedway.com; 800-455-FANS
7:30 a.m.: Gates open
8 a.m.: Sportsman racing
2 p.m., 5 p.m.: Pro Mod qualifying
3 p.m., 5:45 p.m.: Pro Stock (car, motorcycle) qualifying
4 p.m., 6 p.m.: Nitro (Funny Car, Top Fuel dragster) qualifying
7:30 a.m.: Gates open
8 a.m.: Sportsman eliminations
12:15 p.m., 2:45 p.m.: Pro stock qualifying
1 p.m.: 3:30 p.m.: Nitro qualifying
2 p.m., 4:30 p.m.: Pro Mod qualifying
Sunday 9:30 a.m.: Gates open 11 a.m.: Driver introductions
Noon: Nitro round 1
1 p.m.: Pro Stock round 1
1 :30 p.m.: Pro Mod round 2
2 p.m.: Nitro round 2
2: 45 p.m.: Pro Stock round 2
3:45 p.m.: Nitro semifinals
4 p.m.: Pro Stock semifinals
4:15 p.m.: Pro Mod semifinals
5:10 p.m.: Pro Mod finals
5:15 p.m.: Pro Stock finals
5:30 p.m.: Nitro finals