For second year Pro Stock driver Camrie Caruso last weekend’s win at the NHRA Arizona Nationals was a huge step forward. The driver of the Powerbuilt Tools Chevrolet Camaro wanted to prove to herself and her fellow competitors that her first professional win was not a fluke and the 2022 NHRA Rookie of the Year was ready to be a championship contender. Today at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals Caruso and her KB Titan Racing team proved just that point racing to the semifinals before losing to eventual winner and KB Titan Racing teammate Dallas Glenn from the No. 1 qualifier position.
“Our expectations were to win this race and go back-to-back,” said Caruso, who now has two career No. 1 qualifiers in just 22 professional races. “We have a consistent racecar, a good team, and a good combo. Our engine tuner Mike Smith texted me on Wednesday and told me we were going to win from the pole this weekend. I was like that sounds like a great plan. We came off the trailer and went to No. 1 so that felt pretty good.”
Caruso and her Powerbuilt Chevrolet team rolled off the trailer and went to No. 1 on Friday before holding off the rest of the field on Saturday. Caruso competed in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge and while she did not advance to the final round, she recorded the quickest losing time in the semifinals and earned one championship point for her effort. Going into race day Caruso was facing No. 16 qualifier Steven Graham for the first time. The competitiveness of the Pro Stock class had Caruso feeling on edge.
“I was more nervous for the first round today than I was for the final in Arizona,” said Caruso. “Everybody thinks you’re number one and you have the quickest car. I know that doesn’t matter on race day when anything can happen.”
She took the first round win with a wire-to-wire run that had her first off the line with a .017 reaction time and an elapsed time of 6.546 seconds at 209.98 mph. The win moved her into a match-up with Troy Coughlin Jr., the Gatornationals winner and only other driver besides Caruso who had stood in a winner’s circle in 2023. Once again Caruso was strong off the line with another .017 reaction time and her aggressiveness proved to be the deciding factor in the win. Her slower elapsed time of 6.576 seconds got to the finish line stripe first over Coughlin’s 6.566 second run thanks to the starting line advantage.
“I know Troy is a great racer,” said Caruso. “They have a great program over there. I kind of anticipated some starting line games but it wasn’t too bad. I knew it was going to be a tight race one no matter which way it went. I was a little nervous for that one, but we recovered well. The car started drifting left and you have to get in the mindset that you’re controlling a monster. You have to be careful because one big movement at the top end and you’re probably going to flip. You have a fine line to walk and we were able to get it done.”
In the semifinals looking to go to back-to-back finals for the first time Caruso raced her teammate Dallas Glenn. Both young stars are lethal off the starting line and Glenn was nearly perfect with a .002 against Caruso’s solid .029 to grab an early lead which he held onto for the full quarter mile. While Caruso’s day was done with a semifinal finish, she knew there was a positive side regardless.
“Racing Dallas was hard. I wanted to win but he did great. It’s an all KB Titan Final so no matter what KB Titan comes out on top,” said Caruso, who will leave Pomona sitting No. 2 in the Pro Stock point standings.