It’s been way too long since we’ve felt the sun on our shoulders, the wind in our hair, and the rumble of 44 thousand horsepower beneath our feet. So, for those lucky enough to attend the sold-out DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas earlier this month, it was a lot more than just another day at the track.
Four-Wide Drag Racing: What Is It, Exactly?
If you ask an NHRA fan how they feel about four-wide racing, they’ll tell you straight out – they either love it or they hate it! But ultimately, four-wide drag racing is exactly how it sounds, four drivers staged side-by-side, all biting for a chance to be a part of the field on Sunday.
Qualifying is relatively the same – the 16 quickest drivers advance to eliminations – you’re just watching them do it four cars at a time. But race day is where things get a little, well… tricky. For starters, instead of the typical four rounds of eliminations, there are only three. In traditional drag racing eliminations, cars race in pairs and it’s pretty simple – one driver advances to the next elimination round and the other loads his car on the trailer to go home. In four-wide eliminations, drivers race four at a time or in “quads”. The top two finishers of each quad in rounds one and two advance to the third and final elimination round. The final elimination round is far more intense for both drivers and fans. Hearing not one, but three other cars to your left and right ups the ante and ensures that only the most consistent performance takes home the Wally You can beat one driver by a fluke, but three? You’d better bring your A-game every time.
Team DENSO Takes the Stage
Kicking off the weekend events, DENSO powered Angelle Sampey (Vance & Hines/Mission Foods Suzuki) made her entrance into the DENSO Spark Plugs 200mph Pro Stock Motorcycle Club official with acceptance of her 200mph team jacket. Sampey is the 5th member to join the club, making a 200.00mph pass during the 2021 NHRA season opener in Gainesville, FL last month.
Despite Sunday’s final results, Team DENSO drivers put up nothing less than stellar performances in weekend qualifying. The DENSO sponsored trio of Matt Smith, Angie Smith and Scotty Pollacheck fired off qualifying in the 1, 2 and 3 spots, respectively. Matt Smith lead the field with the two best runs of all three qualifying passes. Pollacheck would ultimately get bumped to the #4 spot in the last round of qualifying, but ride all the way to the final round on Sunday.
Pro Stock Car driver Greg Anderson, made his 107th pole position in his DENSO Camaro with his 6.638 run on Saturday – a pass which no one could touch. Anderson would later make a graceful exit in round 2 of eliminations making the quickest pass of the round, but competitors Enders and Stanfield were slightly quicker on the tree, both achieving the round win on hole shots.
Long time DENSO banner carrier and Top Fuel Dragster pilot, Clay Millican ran strong all weekend long. Friday night under the lights saw a pass of 3.788 at 321.58MPH – good enough to earn the #2 spot. Saturday’s final qualifying session would see an improvement in ET at 3.759 at 323.12MPH but would move him down to the #4 spot. Race day was an outstanding day for Clay Millican and his crew, advancing the DENSO Top Fuel dragster all the way to the final round and finishing 3rd in the event.
Win or lose, it felt good to see fans back in the stands. All of our DENSO sponsored and DENSO powered drivers put on performances that makes us very proud. We can’t wait to see where this season leads Team DENSO!