The spotlight is something J.R. Carr is still getting used to after an impressive run of success in 2020. At this rate, though, it might be commonplace soon.
Enjoying a breakout season in the Mountain Motor Pro Stock ranks in the PDRA, Carr will try to continue that as the class makes its season-debut in the NHRA this weekend at Indy.
Carr won his first career PDRA race in June with a dominant performance in his new RJ Race Cars-built ’20 Camaro, giving Carr arguably the biggest spotlight he’s enjoyed in his career.
“We have performed well and run well and we’re expected to stay there, so that’s extra pressure. We’re not used to that yet, but hopefully we can continue that and we can get used to (big expectations),” Carr said. “We’re going to continue to put forth our best effort. Everybody involved is excited about this weekend and we will put on a good show.”
Carr has seemingly taken that challenge almost personally lately, qualifying No. 1 in back-to-back races and advancing to back-to-back finals, also bringing plenty of momentum into his first quarter-mile race of the year.
The NHRA was slated to begin much earlier for the MMPS class, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the debut all the way to August.
That has Carr and others eager to put on a show for NHRA fans for the first time in 2020, especially after the considerable momentum the class gained in the NHRA a year ago.
With every major class on hand at Lucas Oil Raceway this weekend, Carr knows MMPS will do its best to stand out.
“Our class has deserved this attention for a long time and we really haven’t had the opportunity,” Carr said. “Last year was phenomenal with the people coming by the pits and the attention the class got on TV, at the track and on social media. COVID has made things difficult, but there’s still a lot of excitement this year.
“It’s a big deal to showcase our class, bring in some more fans and maybe even get some of these Top Sportsman guys stepping up to the class in the future.”
Carr believes MMPS has untapped potential for drivers, considering the financial means needed to be successful in the class.
With the category looking to make positive steps and attract new talent, Carr agrees that platforms like racing at a NHRA national event can help spur future growth.
“For what some of these Top Sportsman guys are spending, they can run this class. It’s the most economical pro class out there that I know of. Mountain Motor Pro Stock is about as efficient as it gets,” Carr said.
“It’s really a great class. You’ve got carburetors and hood scoops for one, and the other big thing is you have the big three (Mopar, Ford, Chevy) manufacturers in the class and you’ll see all three this weekend. That’s a big deal and hopefully another attraction for people.”
It’s definitely a major attraction for fans, who flocked to the MMPS pits a year ago. Fan attendance is drastically reduced at Indy this year due to the ongoing pandemic, but it’s still a chance for Carr and company to put on a show.
He did that last year at the NHRA race in Houston, going a remarkable 6.233-seconds at 227.80 mph to set both ends of the MMPS record.
This weekend will be his first quarter-mile in the new car, but with the impressive potential it has shown, the big goals remain for Carr.
“Things should translate to the quarter-mile. There’s really no reason it won’t” Carr said. “The new car has been a big reason for our success. Most of the time on these cars, it doesn’t take much to be off. Either it’s not happy and a handful or it’s just not as fast. But the car has not be upset with us and, honestly, the back half is usually easier, so we should be fine.”
The other major change is only two qualifiers during the two-day event, a change made during the pandemic for the rest of NHRA events in 2020. That means a good start is imperative against what Carr knows will be a standout field looking to leave their mark on the NHRA stage, especially with so much uncertainty about when — and where — the next race will take place.
“The air will more than likely be better on the first qualifier, and now you really have to do a good job because there’s 11 cars in an eight-car field, and any of the 11 are capable of being in the field and staying there,” Carr said. “We’re going to put forth our best effort and maybe have a little more motivation because it might be a while before we race (NHRA) again.”