Four-Wide 101

LET 'ER RIP: (from left) Del Worsham. Tim Wilkerson, Mike Neff and John Force participated in a four-wide Funny Car exhibition at zMAX Dragway during last season's NHRA Carolinas Nationals at the Charlotte-area drag strip. (HHP/Harold Hinson Photo)

LET ‘ER RIP: (from left) Del Worsham. Tim Wilkerson, Mike Neff and John Force participated in a four-wide Funny Car exhibition at zMAX Dragway during last season’s NHRA Carolinas Nationals at the Charlotte-area drag strip. (HHP/Harold Hinson Photo)

Understanding How the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals Will Work

CONCORD, N.C. — While the buzz around the inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway has been deafening in the drag-racing community, questions are circulating among fans as to just how the biggest spectacle in drag racing will work from a logistical standpoint. History will be made March 25-28 at the “Bellagio of drag strips” when all four NHRA professional divisions run four-wide all weekend long. Here’s a glimpse at some of the unique procedures that will be implemented for this one-of-a-kind event.

Lane Designation
• Lanes will be identified in numerical order from left to right facing down track. The outermost left lane will be lane No. 1, then lanes No. 2 and No. 3 will be in the middle, with the outermost right lane referred to as lane No. 4.

Track Preparation
• In an attempt to maintain uniform traction quality in all four lanes, sportsman classes, while only running two cars side by side, will run in all four lanes for the entire event. Certain sportsman classes will only run lanes No. 1 and No. 2 while other sportsman classes will run exclusively in lanes No. 3 and No. 4. Track prep, cleanup equipment and personnel will increase accordingly.

Safety Safari
• The NHRA Safety Safari will be doubled for this event. A full compliment of safety personnel and equipment will be assigned to lanes No. 1 and No. 2 and a second safety team will be assigned to lanes No. 3 and No. 4.

• For the first of four qualifying sessions, drivers with the least number of Full Throttle championship points will be the first to run and the top four points leaders will be the last to run in each category. The highest in points will run in lane No. 4, second highest in lane No. 3, third highest in lane No. 2 and fourth highest in lane No. 1.
• Subsequent qualifying sessions will follow normal qualifying procedures with the quickest elapsed times running last in each session.
• Every effort will be made to ensure each team has the opportunity to make one qualifying run in each of the four lanes.

Qualifying Field
• Since each team will make only one qualifying run in each lane, the standard qualifying procedure of transferring only the quickest 12 times from Friday to Saturday will not be in effect at this event. All elapsed times from all qualifying sessions, from both days will be used to establish the 16-car field for eliminations in each category.

Starting System
• Since zMAX Dragway is essentially two tracks built side-by-side, with a center wall separating the two all the way to the top end, each track will have the standard NHRA Christmas tree. Atop each tree will be additional pre-stage and stage bulbs. These additional bulbs will indicate the pre-stage and stage position of the two vehicles on the adjacent track.
• The Compulink AUTOSTART system will continue to be utilized at this event, however, unlike two-lane racing, the AUTOSTART system will not activate until all four vehicles are pre-staged and one vehicle has staged.

Ladders for Eliminations
• In structuring the ladder, the primary objective is to have the top-four qualifiers meet in the final round, assuming the quickest qualifier advances in each round. The first two drivers in each pairing to cross the finish line (barring red-lighting) will advance to round two. Therefore, the pairings in round one will be grouped accordingly: Race A will have qualifiers 1, 8, 9, 16; Race B consists of qualifiers 3, 6, 11, 14; Race C will have qualifiers 2, 7, 10, 15; and Race D will have qualifiers 4, 5, 12, 13.
• In the second round, first and second place from Race A will be in the same grouping as first and second from Race B, and first and second place from Race C and D will be in the other second round race. Again, the first two across the finish line (barring red-lighting) advance to the finals.
• In the final round, teams will finish in the order they cross the finish line (barring red-lighting).

Lane Choice for Eliminations
• First round lane choice goes to the quickest qualifier in each group of four. Second quickest in the group has second choice and third quickest has third choice.
• In subsequent rounds, the first choice goes to the driver with the lower elapsed time from the previous round a