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The latest update as of September 9, 2023

NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series enters the homestretch

When the NHRA 2023 season opened with three regional events in late February and early March, then shifted to national events with the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in mid-March, it seemed like a very long season was just beginning. Now, 17 regional and 15 national events later, it seems to be very quickly heading to a conclusion. In fact, just nine weeks from tomorrow, it will all end at the In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals at Pomona, CA.

While the PRO racers enter their six-race "Coundown to the Championship", and for the first time, the Pro Mod contingent will have their own mini Countdown, which started following the Norwalk event in June. The "Road to the Championship" for Pro Mod has just four events, with two of them, Brainerd and Indy, already completed. The remaining races will be held at St. Louis (NHRA Midwest Nationals), and Las Vegas (NHRA Nevada Nationals), with the championship crown being handed out on the big stage at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The Top Alcohol racers have a very different path to their respective championships, which combine 22 regional and 14 national events during the season. Racers can enter as many races as they wish, but can only claim points from seven of their first ten national events, and three of their first five regional events. There is quite a bit of strategy at play in choosing when and where to run, with calculations including car counts and level of competition, to travel costs - a serious factor in the 2020's - to atmospheric and track conditions.

Until late in the season, when racers in serious contention for a championship have used up most, or all, of their points earning events, it's difficult to see just how the championship standings will unfold. At this writing, there are nearly two dozen Top Alcohol Dragster racers with at least a mathematical chance of taking the season title, while in the Funny Car ranks, there's only 11 competitors with even a mathematical chance of victory. That is due, at least in part, to the continuing decline in the number of alcohol Funny Cars running, despite the inclusion of the injected nitro at the beginning of the season, which was intended (or at least hoped) to increase participation numbers.