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Huge Nitro Pro Fields Set to Thrill at Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 NHRA Nationals

A massive weekend of racing action in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series at Route 66 Raceway also means a huge collection of Top Fuel and Funny Car standouts at the 24th annual Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by PEAK Performance.

In all, 22 Top Fuel dragsters and 18 Funny Cars will compete this weekend in Chicago, giving fans a great opportunity to see 11,000-horsepower, 330-mph nitro action from 40 competitors in Chicago. Add in standout fields in both Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle and fans will get to enjoy 79 professional entries in the Mission Foods Drag Racing Series.

It makes for a talent-heavy and highlight-filled weekend at Route 66 Raceway for an absolutely packed event that includes four qualifying sessions (two on Friday and two on Saturday), the GETTRX Pro Stock All-Star Callout and the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge on Saturday and eliminations on Sunday.

It’s the second time a nitro class has had 20-plus entries in 2024 (Funny Car, Pomona 1) and the 22 Top Fuel entries represents the largest field for the class this season. With a host of stars and standout drivers, it should make it a nitro weekend to remember.

“Hands-down, this is the most competitive the nitro cars have ever been,” Top Fuel’s Clay Millican said. “I lost the final in Charlotte by 0.016-seconds and that’s every weekend in this class. It’s not unusual for it to be that close in these categories. So you’ve got to have your game face on from the first qualifying run. You have to be on your ‘A’ game every single run. The shows are incredible and everyone will definitely see that this weekend in Chicago.”

Millican (Top Fuel), Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car), Dallas Glenn (Pro Stock), and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) won in Chicago last year, while Justin Ashley, Ron Capps and Gaige Herrera secured Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge titles. Camrie Caruso won the first-ever Callout in Pro Stock a season ago. It is the sixth of 20 races in 2024 and this year’s event will again be broadcast on FS1.

Along with full fields across every category this weekend, the action on the track has been memorable since the season has opened. In Funny Car, there have been five different winners through five races, with a host of standouts like Ron Capps, Cruz Pedregon and Alexis DeJoria still aiming for their first victories of the season, while Top Fuel features an impressive array of depth.

Justin Ashley has taken the Top Fuel points lead early on, but he knows things are only going to get tougher and more challenging, especially taking on 21 other Top Fuel competitors in Chicago.

“Every team is incredibly talented and capable of winning on any given Sunday,” Ashley said. “From this point forward, with everyone getting their feet underneath them, the competition will only get bigger and better. I love Chicago. It brings back a lot of exciting memories. The facility is great, and the fans are always top-notch.”

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Pro Stock legend Greg Anderson has already won twice in 2024, taking the points lead into Chicago. He’s also participating in the Callout as he attempts for a double-up weekend taking on stars like defending world champ Erica Enders, who is the top seed in the GETTRX Pro Stock All-Star Callout, defending event winner Glenn and Jeg Coughlin Jr. The full Callout field features Enders, Anderson, Glenn, Troy Coughlin Jr., Aaron Stanfield, Matt Hartford, Cristian Cuadra and Deric Kramer.

Herrera dominated Chicago a year ago in Pro Stock Motorcycle, setting a host of track records. He’s won twice in 2024 and has seven straight wins dating back to last season. To continue that historic streak, he’ll have to topple six-time champion Matt Smith, former champ LE Tonglet, Angie Smith, Hector Arana Jr. and Steve Johnson.

Also slated in Chicago is the special Drag and Drive exhibition event. With star drivers like Alex Taylor and Tom Bailey, the standout street cars run in the 6-second range and quicker at speeds of more than 200 mph. The weekend also includes competition in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, the Congruity NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by LearnEV+, Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown division, the new Holley EFI Factory X category and the season debut of the Pingel Top Fuel Motorcycle class.

Fans will also be invited all weekend long to the Nitro Alley Stage, which is the main entertainment hub in the pits, hosting Nitro School, meet and greets, music and much more. Race fans at Route 66 Raceway can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the event winners.

As always, fans get an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet in Chicago. Fans get a unique chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers, and more. They can also visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, an exciting atmosphere that includes interactive displays, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.

Qualifying sessions take place at 2:30 and 5 p.m. CT on Friday, and 11:40 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. CT on Saturday. Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. CT on Sunday

The first round of the GETTRX Pro Stock All-Star Callout starts at 11:30 a.m. CT on Saturday, with the semifinals to follow at 1:45 p.m. and the finals at 2:55 p.m. Television coverage includes qualifying action at 7:00 p.m. ET on Friday and 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, leading into eliminations coverage at 4:00-5:00 p.m. ET and 10 p.m. ET on Sunday on FS1. A special Callout broadcast airs at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday on FS1.

To purchase tickets to the Gerber Collision & Glass NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by PEAK Performance on May 17-19 at Route 66 Raceway, fans can visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. All children 12 and under will be admitted free in the general admission area with a paid adult.

This story was originally published on May 16, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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Since 2005, DI has informed, inspired and educated drag racers from every walk of the racing life - weekend warrior and street/strip enthusiasts to pro-level doorslammer and Top Fuel racers. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-worthy videos to electric live events, DI meets hundreds of thousands of racers where they live, creating the moments that create conversations.