2022 NHRA Rookie of the Year Camrie Caruso is heading into the final race of her second season looking to continue an upward trajectory that has carried her Powerbuilt Tools Chevrolet Camaro team throughout the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season. The NHRA Finals will be one final chance for Caruso to secure her first Top Ten finish in the Pro Stock point standings and the third generation drag racer could finish as high a seventh with another strong performance at the famed In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip.
“This season has flown by and I am looking forward to having a great weekend with my Powerbuilt Tools Chevrolet Camaro team in Pomona,” said Caruso. “Last year when we rolled into Pomona, I felt like we were in the final mile of a marathon with not much left in the tank. This year we have a whole new attitude. We have been going rounds in the Countdown and I think we can step up our performance with our KB Titan Racing power and be in the mix to win this last race.”
The turnaround for Caruso and her Powerbuilt Tools team has been a positive addition to an exciting season of Pro Stock racing. The second-year driver won her first race at the NHRA Arizona Nationals becoming just the second female to stand in an NHRA Pro Stock winner’s circle. On the heels of that win Caruso rolled into the Winternationals at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip and grabbed the No. 1 qualifier and raced to the semifinals. It was a solid back-to-back race stretch that set Caruso up for a solid second season.
“Winning in Arizona was a big deal but following it up with a No. 1 qualifier and semifinal finish in Pomona showed we had a consistent team that could compete at the highest level,” said Caruso, who has won at every level of her NHRA career. “This season we have improved a ton and we are just getting stronger I think. I want to come into Pomona this weekend and secure our spot in the Top Ten and move up in the standings.”
During her rookie campaign Caruso qualified for the Countdown with a Top Ten regular season finish but over the final six races the first-year driver qualified for every race but did not advance out of the first round. This season another solid regular season had Caruso in the Countdown championship hunt and three quarterfinal finishes have kept her in the Top Ten. On two occasions Reading and most recently Las Vegas Caruso has a quick race car, but tricky track conditions forced her to make some veteran decisions behind the wheel that impeded her round wins.
“We had an awesome car at Maple Grove and I was pulling away for the win when we got a little out of the groove and I had to lift,” said Caruso. “Two weeks ago in Vegas I lifted because we got a little sideways and I knew there was a chance of ruining the race car. I will always put safety first but those are two tough loses for sure. I am getting better in the car with every run and this season we have been making progress as a team. I want to finish strong at the NHRA Finals and then go after the championship again in 2024.”
When Caruso came onto the Pro Stock scene in 2022 she was not shy about her lofty goals of winning races and competing for the NHRA Pro Stock championship. In just her second year she has etched her name into the record books winning races and securing No. 1 qualifiers. She also won the first Pro Stock Allstar Callout event in Chicago. With one race to go in the 2023 season Caruso is only 51 points out of seventh place and with 30 points per on the line mid Top Ten finish is within her grasp.
“I want to finish as high as possible in the points and show improvement year over year,” said Caruso. “I learned a ton in my rookie season and I have learned even more this year as part of KB Titan Racing. I have to thank Powerbuilt Tools, Tequila Comisario, Big Jeff Audio, DENSO and VP Racing Lubricants for all their support this season. We have big plans for 2024 but first we need to get after it in Pomona this weekend.”
The Pro Stock class will have two qualifying runs on Friday at noon and 3 p.m. PT and then the final two qualifying sessions will be contested on Saturday at noon and 3 p.m. PT. Sunday’s eliminations for the16 quickest Pro Stock cars will begin at noon PT. The race will be televised nationally on FS1.