In what has been an incredible start to his 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season, Gaige Herrera has been perfect through three races, winning all three events in Pro Stock Motorcycle, with each race marking his NHRA debut at that facility.
He’ll look to make it four in a row this weekend at the 22nd annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, which marks another track where Herrera has never competed in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
That hasn’t bothered him thus far, as Herrera has stockpiled wins in Gainesville, Charlotte and Chicago on his Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki and the young standout is eager to try and keep that unblemished record intact while visiting Thunder Valley for the first time.
“It’s going to be a new experience for me, so my first pass I’m going to learn a lot,” Herrera said. “The biggest thing I’ve focused on for years is knowing exactly where I’m at on the track while I’m making a pass, so I feel like that’s going to help a lot. I’m really enjoying going to all these tracks for the first time. It’s very cool to be able to race all over and experience it, and I’m definitely looking forward to this weekend.”
Justin Ashley (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners in Bristol. It’s the fourth race of the 2023 season in Pro Stock Motorcycle and Herrera has already built a dominant lead by qualifying No. 1 at every race and winning three times.
In Chicago, he made three of quickest runs in class history, including an impressive run of 6.672-seconds in qualifying. He also won the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, something he’ll have a chance to do again this weekend. Herrera will race teammate Eddie Krawiec on Saturday in a semifinal rematch, while Chip Ellis and Hector Arana Jr. is the other matchup in the specialty race that offers a bonus purse and bonus points on Saturday in Bristol.
But as dominant as Herrera has been, he knows it will be difficult to hold off a loaded field that also includes defending world champ Matt Smith, Steve Johnson, Joey Gladstone and Angie Smith. Herrera, though, is focused on trying to maintain this current run for as long as he can.
“I’m just taking it race by race,” Herrera said. “I’m having the best season I could ever have starting like this. I didn’t expect to be on the top like I am, but I’m just enjoying it and I know that anything can happen. We had good success in testing and that really helped, but there’s a lot of races to go and a lot of time left in the season.”
Race fans at Bristol Dragway can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the Bristol event winners.
As always, fans also get an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet in Bristol. Fans can also visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting atmosphere with displays, merchandise, food, and fun for the entire family.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying in Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will feature two rounds at 4 and 7 p.m. ET on Friday, final qualifying on Saturday at 1 and 4:30 p.m., and eliminations 12 p.m. ET on Sunday.
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