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Ron Capps believes hot conditions will be a factor this weekend at Virginia Motorsports Park. (Kent Steele photo)

Two-Day Format Intrigues NHRA Racers

DINWIDDIE, Va. — The NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series returns to Virginia Motorsports Park for the first time since 2022 this weekend with NHRA introducing a unique two-day format to the series.

Instead of holding qualifying over Friday and Saturday, three professional sessions are slated on Saturday to set the fields for Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle competition.

VMP fans will also see the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge for the first time during the final two qualifying sessions.

Drivers are overwhelmingly in favor of the new weekend format.

“It will be a two-day event, which is something I’ve never done in my career,” said two-time Top Fuel champion Brittany Force. “I’m interested to see the fan response for a Saturday and Sunday event. It will definitely speed things up and we are hoping for a positive outcome.”

Top Fuel rookie and racing veteran Tony Stewart believes the format is fan friendly.

“I think it’ll be great. If you haven’t been to a drag race before or had the opportunity to watch the entire field of nitro cars make three runs, it is something you never get to see,” Stewart said. “Normally, it’s just two in a day. Even though fans get to see eliminations on Sunday, half the field is gone each round. I think it is a unique format. Saturday is always a huge day for NHRA racing and to have three rounds will make it a very special event for the fans.”

Funny Car driver Buddy Hull said the three-session day will allow teams to run in various conditions in preparation for Sunday’s eliminations.

“I really like this experimental scheduling format,” said Hull. “Saturday you get a chance to make two runs before the throwdown session. For us that is perfect. We can get some track time in race day conditions and then try and run a low number. I think if the conditions are good on that race track you could see a lot of Top Fuel dragsters run high 3.60s and low 3.70s with the Funny Cars putting up a lot of 3.80s and low 3.90s. It is going to be great show for the fans.”

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Tony Stewart at Bristol Dragway. (Kent Steele photo)

With three runs in a single day, it certainly presents more work for the teams.

“I honestly think our team is more than capable of handling it,” Stewart said. “On race day, they’re doing four rounds if they make it to the final. So, three rounds and having the time to prepare beforehand makes it not an issue as far as the teams are concerned.”

With temperatures in the 90s forecast, the heat will play a role in the way teams prepare their cars.

“This is looking like the hottest conditions we’ve seen this year, and this is definitely one of those races where we need to put our heads down and get after it,” said three-time Top Fuel champion Antron Brown. “We know it’s going to be hot and tricky, but we’re ready for that challenge and I think this is going to be a breakout race for our Matco Tools Toyota team.”

Funny car champion Ron Capps is looking forward to the conditions.

“We’re seeing conditions with warm temperatures during the weekend and these are the type of races that’ll win championships,” said Capps, a three-time Funny Car champion.