The four-wide style of racing is an acquired taste for many of the NHRA professional drivers. For reigning NHRA Rookie of the Year Camrie Caruso her return to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Vegas Four-Wide Nationals will be slightly bittersweet. Over the past two races Caruso has collected her first career Pro Stock win at the Arizona Nationals and her second career No. 1 qualifier at the Winternationals where she also raced to the semifinals before losing to eventual winner Dallas Glenn. Her fortunes have not been as successful in the four-wide format but the resilient and determined racer who currently lives in Mooresville, North Carolina is ready to give it another shot.
“I am trying to get used to the four-wide format,” said Caruso, a multi-category winner. “There is a lot going on when you stage and last year during my rookie year it was tough. I know the fans love it and we are here to put on a great show for the fans and our sponsors. My goal this year is to just get better and have some fun with it. Luckily, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is an awesome racetrack.”
Last year Caruso rolled into the Vegas Four-Wide Nationals for her fourth professional Pro Stock race. The young driver was still figuring out a tremendous amount of information and procedures as she tried to acclimatize herself to the unique four-wide staging and racing procedure. Now with over 20 NHRA national events under her belt Caruso is ready to tackle the four-wide nationals again.
“I really feel a lot more comfortable in my Powerbuilt Tools Camaro this season,” said Caruso. “I am excited to see what we can do in Las Vegas. We have some momentum coming off Phoenix and Pomona and I just want to keep turning on win lights.”
Through three races this season Caruso has picked up the Arizona Nationals win and recorded the No. 1 qualifier at the Winternationals. She also participated in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge on Saturday of the Winternationals and while she did not advance to the final round, she picked up a championship point for her quick qualifying run during the qualifying and elimination round. The second-year pro knows that her goal of winning her first Pro Stock world championship will not happen during the regular season but picking up Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge points will give her a leg up at the end of the year.
“I love everything about the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge and I am so glad we have been able to participate already,” said Caruso. “Once we get into the heart of the schedule this season it is going to be an awesome opportunity to pick up some money and more importantly those championship points. I know we will be counting them and so will a lot of the other Pro Stock teams.”
Caruso has added some off-track commitments to her schedule this season as well. At each NHRA national event Caruso participates in the “Just the Basics with Camrie Caruso” stage show joined by NHRA announcer Jason Galvin. The 20-25 minutes casual conversation is a chance for Caruso to let fans in on some of the ins and outs of being a first time NHRA guest as well as insider tips on what goes on at the racetrack. The show has been a welcome addition to the entertainment elements the NHRA has put together throughout the weekend to highlight many of the drivers and crew chiefs.
“I have loved the first couple of stage shows with Jason,” said Caruso. “We have talked about racing, where to get the best French Fries, the best time and worst time to ask for an autograph as well as what I like about each track. It is cool to talk with some of the fans before and after to get an idea of what they like about NHRA. This is one of the things that makes NHRA so unique is the drivers get out amongst the fans and really try to give them a unique experience. I can’t wait to get on the stage at the Las Vegas race on Friday.”
After Caruso spends time with the fans, she will have two qualifying sessions on Friday and two on Saturday to race her way into the 16-car qualified field. Final eliminations will begin for all the pro classes at noon on Sunday. There will be three rounds of racing which will all be broadcast nationally on FS1.