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Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 NHRA Nationals Friday preview

The 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series returns to magnificent Route 66 Raceway for the running of the Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Peak Performance, the sixth of 20 events on the calendar.
17 May 2024
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
Route 66

The 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series returns to magnificent Route 66 Raceway for the running of the Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Peak Performance, the sixth of 20 events on the calendar.

Since its debut in 1998, Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., has been home to many of NHRA’s most historic and most memorable moments. This year’s event figures to offer more of the same as it will not only include all four NHRA Professional categories but also the Congruity NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by LearnEV+, NHRA Holley EFI Factory X, Flexjet NHRA Factory Stock Showdown, and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Sportsman classes. As if that wasn’t enough, the event will also host the GETTRX Allstar Pro Stock Callout specialty race, the Pingel Top Fuel Motorcycle exhibition, and the second edition of the Peak Drag and Drive exhibition featuring, among others, Alex Taylor and Tom Bailey in their six-second street cars.

The defending event champions include Clay Millican, Tim Wilkerson, Dallas Glenn, and Gaige Herrera in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle, respectively. Millican, Glenn, and Herrera will be on hand to defend their titles, while Illinois native Wilkerson has vacated the driver's seat of his Scag Power Equipment entry to make way for his son, Daniel, who is seeking his first win.

Millican, who made his NHRA Top Fuel debut in Chicago, is looking for his first win of the season in his Rick Ware Racing Parts Plus dragster. Millican can defend his title, but in order to do so, he’s going to have to make his way through one of the largest fields of the year as there are 22 Top Fuel dragsters on the Route 66 pre-entry list.

The leading contenders include current championship leader Justin Ashley, Doug Kalitta, Shawn Langdon, Antron Brown, and the father-son team of Billy and Steve Torrence. Three-time NASCAR Cup series champ Tony Stewart will also be making his first Professional start at Route 66 Raceway.

The Funny Car class is wide open as Austin Prock, J.R. Todd, John Force, Bob Tasca III, and Matt Hagan have each won races this season. It’s perfectly reasonable to assume one of these five will get their second win, but there are also a host of others, including Ron Capps, Alexis DeJoria, Cruz Pedregon, Chad Green, Daniel Wilkerson, Paul Lee, and Blake Alexander who feel otherwise.  

Of the 18 Funny Car drivers entered for this weekend, only John Force, Matt Hagan, and Ron Capps have previously won at Route 66 Raceway. Force and Hagan have three wins each, while Capps has two.

The Route 66 event is a big weekend for Pro Stock drivers as some drivers will have the ability to go home with two different trophies as the event also includes the GETTRX Pro Stock Allstar Callout on Saturday.

Incoming championship leader Greg Anderson is among those ripe for a double win along with Dallas Glenn, Aaron Stanfield, and Cristian Cuadra. Glenn is the defending event winner.

One other Pro Stock driver who should be a center of attention is Jeg Coughlin Jr., who has six previous wins at Route 66 Raceway. Coughlin, Anderson, Enders, and Deric Kramer are the only drivers who have previously won this event.

After winning 11 events last season, Gaige Herrera is unbeaten in two Pro Stock Motorcycle events this season. Herrera won both the Gainesville and Charlotte events and looked nearly unstoppable in doing so. Herrera is also the defending event winner and current national and track record holder.

As dominant as he’s been, there are several racers who have looked to close the gap, including Matt and Angie Smith, former champ LE Tonglet, Richard Gadson, Steve Johnson, Hector Arana Jr., Kelly Clontz, and 2023 NHRA Rookie of the Year Chase Van Sant.

The Congruity Pro Mod Series features a robust entry list of 24 cars, which means the most important battle of the weekend might just be making the 16-car field. After two events, Jose Gonzalez is the leader by a narrow 17-point margin over Ken Quartuccio, while third-ranked Kevin Rivenbark is just 29 points back.

Clay Millican, Top Fuel; Tim Wilkerson, Funny Car; Dallas Glenn, Pro Stock; Gaige Herrera, Pro Stock Motorcycle

Top Fuel - 3.677 seconds by Steve Torrence, June '18; 334.82 mph by Brittany Force, May ‘23.
Funny Car - 3.831 seconds by Robert Hight, May '23; 335.07 mph by Hight, May '23.
Pro Stock - 6.510 seconds by Dallas Glenn, May '23; 212.39 mph by Greg Anderson, June '19.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.672 seconds by Gaige Herrera, May ’23; 202.45 mph by Herrera, May ’23.

Top Fuel - 3.623 sec. by Brittany Force, Sept. ‘19, Reading; 338.94 mph by B. Force, Nov. ‘22, Pomona.
Funny Car - 3.793 sec. by Robert Hight, Aug. '17, Brainerd; 339.87 mph by Hight, July ’17, Sonoma.
Pro Stock - 6.450 sec. by Erica Enders, Mar. ’22, Gainesville; 215.55 mph by Enders, May ’14, Englishtown.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.627 sec. by Gaige Herrera, Oct. ’23, Ennis, Texas; 205.04 mph by Matt Smith, July ’21, Sonoma.


FRIDAY, May 17: Lucas Oil Series qualifying and time trials at 8 a.m.; Pro Stock qualifying at 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.; Top Fuel and Funny Car qualifying at 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.

SATURDAY, May 18: Lucas Oil Series eliminations at 8 a.m.; GETTRX Pro Stock Allstar Callout eliminations at 11:30; Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying at 11:40 a.m. and 2:30 p.m; Top Fuel and Funny Car qualifying at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

SUNDAY, May 19: Sportsman eliminations begin at 8:30. Pre-race ceremony, 10 a.m.; Professional eliminations at 11:00 a.m.


FRIDAY, May 17: FS1 will televise 90 minutes of qualifying highlights at 7:30 p.m. (ET)
SATURDAY, May 18: FS1will televise 90 minutes of the GETTRX Pro Stock Allstar Callout at 7 p.m. (ET)
SUNDAY, May 19: FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 1 p.m. (ET)
SUNDAY, May 19: FS1 will televise one hour of finals at 4 p.m. and two hours of finals at 10 p.m. (ET).