With excitement already brewing surrounding the start of the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series at the 54th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, eight Top Fuel stars are already planning for a memorable weekend at historic Gainesville Raceway, March 9-12.
The Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout returns in 2023, pitting eight standouts against each other in a unique specialty race that takes place on Saturday, March 11. It’s a marquee, can’t-miss attraction to help kick off the new season, and a definite highlight of famed Gatornationals.
Reigning world champion Brittany Force, defending callout winner Steve Torrence, Justin Ashley, Mike Salinas, Doug Kalitta, Josh Hart, Austin Prock and Clay Millican make up the eight-car field for the one-day shootout with a distinctive callout format that promises big money and major bragging rights, along with a special broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1).
The Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout’s format was introduced in 2022, with the top-seeded driver – which is Force this season – getting the first selection to call out her first-round opponent. Torrence gets the next selection, going down the line until the first-round matchups are set. After a sure-fire dynamite first round, the driver who makes the quickest winning run will select their semifinal opponent, locking in the other matchup as well.
It makes for a thrilling Saturday duel leading into Sunday’s eliminations, also setting the stage for a terrific way to open the 2023 season. Last year’s Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout was finished in Indy due to weather, with Torrence going 3.692-seconds at 329.02 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster to slip past Force in a stellar final round. Torrence, who won four straight world championships from 2018-2021, will look for back-to-back specialty race wins and the chance to do it for the first time in Gainesville, while Force will look to start her second career championship defense with a callout victory. The speed dynamo made a track-record run in Gainesville last year, scorching the track with a run of 337.75 en route to her world title.
Standouts Ashley and Salinas, who each had the best seasons of their careers in 2022, advanced to the semifinals in the shootout last year, while the veteran Kalitta was a participant last year and is no stranger to specialty races in his storied career. Millican and rising stars Josh Hart and Austin Prock will make their first appearances in the callout. Hart started his Top Fuel career with a victory at Gainesville at his first career race in 2021, while Prock came on strong to end 2022, winning two playoff races and finishing third in the points standings.
With three rounds of the specialty race set to take place on Saturday, it adds another thrilling attraction to the kickoff of the NHRA’s 72nd season. For more than five decades, Gainesville Raceway has served as hallowed grounds for drivers eager to leave their mark at the storied facility. The first event of the year will also celebrate the 2022 world champions with a ring ceremony, along with a pre-race kickoff party in Gainesville to help set the tone for an incredible opener.
In 2022, Tripp Tatum (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Dallas Glenn (Pro Stock), and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all picked up victories during a record-breaking weekend in Gainesville. Hagan earned the first-ever victory for Tony Stewart Racing, and Karen Stoffer made the quickest pass in Pro Stock Motorcycle history at 6.665 seconds en route to the win. Tatum earned his first career victory, as a first-time winner picked up the victory for a second straight year in Top Fuel.
Action will start with qualifying on Friday, final qualifying and the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout on Saturday, and eliminations on Sunday as the NHRA stars will aim to open their 2023 season in standout fashion.