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Matt Smith Looks for Hometown Win at zMax Dragway, Deric Kramer Aims to Repeat His 2023 4-Wide Nationals Win

After a six-week hiatus from the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series schedule, the competitive Pro Stock Motorcycle class returns to action at this weekend’s NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway. Atop the list of riders ready to hit the track is six-time champion Matt Smith.

Smith, a North Carolina native, is two-time zMAX Dragway winner and wants nothing more than to return to the winner’s circle on his Denso Spark Plugs Buell. With a runner-up finish in Gainesville under his belt, he’ll be ready to return to competition on this weekend in Charlotte.

“We won the first ever four-wide race in Charlotte,” Smith said. “Our goal is to try to win the four-wide this weekend. We need to get back to winning races and need give Gaige (Herrera) a run for his money. Hopefully one of our Denso bikes or Scrappers Racing bike can win this weekend.”

Austin Prock (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Deric Kramer (Pro Stock) and Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all took home victories in 2023 at the 4-Wide Nationals. This year’s event will again be broadcast on FS1, including eliminations at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, and is the second of 15 races in Pro Stock Motorcycle during the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season.

After a long break from competition since the Gatornationals in March, Smith and the other Pro Stock Motorcycle competitors will jump into four-wide competition at this weekend’s race. The added challenge has been a hiccup for many riders over the years, but Smith has confidence thanks to his past success at zMAX Dragway.

“I don’t do anything differently for a four-wide race. I like the challenge of it,” said Smith, who has 38 career wins. “I think it’s different. I try to tell people it’s like NASCAR. They have road course races, and everyone can’t just go in a circle all the time. We have to prepare ourselves to go four-wide racing and that’s what I like about it.”

Smith finished runner-up earlier this season in Gainesville to the reigning champion Herrera. After a record-breaking 2023 from Herrera, the Pro Stock Motorcycle class is ready to dethrone the standout. Smith leads that charge followed by his wife Angie, three-time Charlotte winner Steve Johnson, former champ LE Tonglet and Hector Arana Jr.

“To get ready for Charlotte, we’ve done a lot of testing since Gainesville. Testing, testing, testing,” Smith said. “We’ve done some dyno work, but the main thing is we’ve just tested a lot. We’ve been working on our 60-foot times and our 330-foot times, and we’ve found some stuff and I think we should be better.”

New this season is the addition of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge at the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals. Smith will be entered into the Challenge in a quad where he’ll face off against Tonglet, Marc Ingwersen and Richard Gadson. The other side of the ladder will see Herrera taking on John Hall, as well as A. Smith and Johnson. The two top finishers in each quad will advance and the final Challenge round will feature a quad of racers running for the bonus purse and championship points.

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In the Pro Stock ranks, Kramer heads into Charlotte as the defending event winner of the 4-Wide Nationals. It was part of an impressive final-round streak for the veteran and he’s hoping a return to zMAX Dragway will jumpstart what has been a difficult start to his 2024 campaign.

The five-time event winner is still looking for his first round win of the 2024 season, losing in the first round three times and not qualifying in Pomona in his Get Biofuel Chevrolet Camaro. It’s certainly not been ideal in the loaded Pro Stock ranks, but Kramer has time to turn things around.

Still, he’s after a productive weekend in Charlotte and he did qualify 10th at the four-wide race in Las Vegas, showing signs of improvement. But nothing comes easy in the loaded category, a group that includes reigning world champion Erica Enders, Greg Anderson, Las Vegas winner Jeg Coughlin Jr., Brandon Foster, Dallas Glenn and Matt Hartford.

In the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge in Pro Stock, one quad features Jerry Tucker, Foster, Glenn and Eric Latino in one group, with Enders, Coughlin, Anderson and David Cuadra in the other.

The Top Fuel Challenge features Tony Stewart, Justin Ashley, Clay Millican and Antron Brown, with Doug Kalitta, Steve Torrence, Brittany Force and Josh Hart making up the other foursome. Funny Car will see Las Vegas winner Bob Tasca III taking on Prock, Alexis DeJoria and Chad Green while Ron Capps, Matt Hagan, J.R. Todd and Paul Lee will complete the other side of the ladder. Each competitor will also try to make it a double-up on Sunday with an event win, ensuring the 4-Wide Nationals are loaded with action the entire weekend.

The NHRA 4-Wide Nationals will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, which features some of the sport’s top drivers, as well as the Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage Mountain Motor Pro Stock and the new Holley EFI Factory X category. The Summit Racing Equipment Jr. Drag Racing League Shootout will also take place in Charlotte. Fans can also look forward to the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Autograph Session at the Mission Foods Display and the Toyota Autograph Display, both of which take place on Saturday morning.

All weekend long, fans are invited to the Nitro Alley Stage at zMAX Dragway. The Nitro Alley Stage will be the main entertainment hub in the pits, hosting Nitro School, meet and greets, music and much more. Race fans 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 SealMaster Track Walk. The final 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 of the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals.

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

NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:30 and 7:00 p.m. ET on Friday, April 26 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, April 27 at 12 and 2:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 28. Television coverage includes qualifying on FS1 at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday and then eliminations action at 6 p.m. ET to follow.

To purchase tickets to the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, please visit or call 800-455-3267. For more information about NHRA, visit

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This story was originally published on April 25, 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.