Qualifying for the fourth race of six in the 2023 NHRA Countdown to the Championship was a battle of power as the top spot in the field changed hands through three of four sessions. In the quickest field in the history of Pro Stock, KB Titan Racing-powered Deric Kramer earned the provisional pole on Friday, and five-time world champion Greg Anderson and his HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro took the top spot on Saturday with a pass of 6.481-second at 211.76 mph to keep the pole in the hands of KB Titan Racing (KBT) for the ninth time this season. Three of the team’s seven drivers broke their own personal best records for elapsed time, as well.
Every point holds great magnitude during the pressure-packed Countdown to the Championship playoffs, and when the final bonus points – additional marks awarded to the three quickest drivers in each qualifying session – were doled out in Dallas, KBT had swept in eight of those precious tokens to add to their tally.
Now, with raceday at the Texas NHRA FallNationals on the horizon, the KB Titan Racing team is ready to get to work. They’ve won each of the previous three events in this season’s Countdown and 11 events overall this year in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. The dedicated and focused group is armed and eager to claim another trophy on Sunday in Texas in their quest for a 10th world championship.
Anderson and his HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro entered the event No. 2 in the championship chase – and just 25 points out of first – after back-to-back wins at Charlotte and St. Louis. A stellar 6.481 in the third session at Texas Motorplex brought in three bonus points and sent Anderson to the top of the pack, and with a firm grasp on his very fast KBT-powered racecar, he scored the 123rd low qualifier of his career and second of the season.
“Momentum is obviously worth a lot. You can’t quantify it, but it’s worth a lot,” said Anderson, who also earned a bonus point as third-quickest in the first and final sessions for a total of five extra marks. Troy Coughlin Jr. was No. 1 after the first session on Friday, but KBT teammate Deric Kramer ended Friday as the provisional pole sitter for three bonus points.
“This has probably been the toughest four rounds of qualifying that I can remember in my career,” said Anderson. “There have never been as many cars capable of driving to the pole, and every thousandth meant everything. Not only does your car have to be perfect every time down the racetrack, but you have to shift it perfectly. It’s so easy to mess up shifting and give up four-, five-, six-thousandths, or a hundredth and a half even, because you just mess up shifting. Any of that and you’re done. Instead of No. 1, I’d be No. 10. It’s that tough out there right now.”
Anderson is the most winning Pro Stock driver at Texas Motorplex with six previous victories and is tied with Top Fuel’s Tony Schumacher for second-most overall – Funny Car veteran John Force leads with seven (one of which was earned at the discontinued spring race there). For Anderson, there is great honor in doing well in Dallas, and he’s made exceptional moves there before – most notably in 2021 when he raced to his 98th career win to edge ahead of Warren Johnson as the most winning driver in the history of Pro Stock.
“Dallas has always been one of my favorite racetracks, and it’s proven by the amount of wins we have here,” said the driver who is in the hunt for the 104th trophy of his career. “When you come to a place you feel good, you seem to do better, it’s as simple as that. Positive attitude takes you a long way, a negative one doesn’t get you anywhere, and I’ve always had a positive attitude coming here. I love racing here; it’s the original super racetrack, the very first all-concrete racetrack, and the very first best racetrack we ever had. After all these years, it’s still held up and is one of the best surfaces we race on, and I love that.
“I’m excited for tomorrow. The bar has been raised, and the price of poker is through the roof in this class. I’m proud to be part it and proud to be one of the guys in the mix fighting for a championship. I feel very fortunate I found a way to get to the winner’s circle the last two weeks, but I can’t pick a favorite right now. There are so many good cars and good drivers, it’s anybody’s game.”
After winning the regular season with his RAD Torque Systems Chevrolet Camaro, Dallas Glenn is looking to get back on track. He came to Texas Motorplex situated in the No. 4 position, some 64 points back from first (just over three rounds), and will have some work to do on Sunday in order to keep himself in the championship hunt. Glenn clocked a best time of 6.486, 210.30 for the No. 5 position and a first-round meeting with Bo Butner, and he’s seeking a fifth win on the season.
The car to beat heading into Saturday at Texas Motorplex was the GetBiofuel.com Chevrolet Camaro driven by Deric Kramer, a five-time winner on the tour and the Charlotte Four-Wide winner earlier this season. Kramer, who has reached three total final rounds so far this year, raced to a phenomenal and career best 6.486, 209.50 in the Friday night session to claim a large cash prize and a brand-spanking-new pair of boots, courtesy of Texas Motorplex. Although his KBT teammate Anderson was able to get around him for the top spot, Kramer logged three valuable bonus points in his own run for the championship. He was No. 7 entering the event. Kramer, who landed No. 6 on the qualifying sheet, will race Cristian Cuadra in round one.
Matt Hartford took over the points lead after closing the regular season with a win at the U.S. Nationals and then scoring the trophy at the first race of the Countdown in Reading, and he held onto the top spot through Charlotte. Hartford was bumped down to third in the standings after a tough first-round loss in St. Louis, so the driver of the Total Seal/The Hose Connection/CIP 1 Chevrolet would very much like to make a big move on Sunday at Texas Motorplex. Hartford drove to his career best elapsed time in the third qualifying session with a 6.487, 212.14 that set him neatly in the No. 7 qualifying position. He’ll square off with Fernando Cuadra Jr. in the first round on Sunday and is aiming to replicate his 2020 Dallas win.
Kyle Koretsky’s Lucas Oil-branded Chevrolet was among the quickest in the first session in Dallas to give indication that there were great possibilities ahead. Koretsky, who entered the event in the No. 8 position in the championship points, raced to a 6.530, 211.11 in the opening session and improved with a best qualifying time of 6.490, 212.11 in the early session on Saturday. He will start from the No. 8 position and race Aaron Stanfield in the first round. Koretsky is looking for his first win of the season after two final round performances, including a runner-up at the first race of the Countdown.
After revealing a stunning pink paint scheme supporting Fuel Juel and the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 2022 Rookie of the Year Camrie Caruso raced to a best time of 6.506, 211.14 to claim the No. 13 position. Caruso is holding onto a spot in the top 10 – she is currently No. 9 – and eager to earn a second career victory and first in Texas; her first was earned earlier this year in Phoenix. She will race Jerry Tucker in the first round.
Competing in the sixth Pro Stock race of his career, Eric Latino recorded a personal best (in Pro Stock) of 6.519, 210.98 to make the quickest field in history. Driving the GESi Chevrolet, the diverse drag racer who hails from Canada has now made the field in each of his attempts – an admirable feat in races that have left more veteran Pro Stock competitors on the outside. He’ll race Erica Enders in the first round in a bid to block the incoming champion and current points leader from gaining ground.
Eliminations at the 38th annual Texas NHRA FallNationals will begin at 12:00 noon Central Time on Sunday, October 15.