CONCORD, N.C. (April 29) — With no time to test as the NHRA schedule plows through it’s first stretch of three races on consecutive weekends, Alex Laughlin knows anything they need to try to make their Gas Monkey Energy Drink Chevrolet Camaro quicker needs to be tested during qualifying at national events. That’s why he was so happy to qualify 10th overall at the eighth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, despite the fact they were in partial test mode the last two days.
“We are making really good progress with the car,” Laughlin said. “We are still a little bit down on speed but it’s because we just haven’t gotten the perfect combination yet. Whenever we do, we will be running the same numbers (No. 1 qualifier and Elite Motorsports teammate) Jeg (Coughlin) is running the last two weekends.”
Last weekend, Laughlin also qualified 10th before losing a close Round 1 race. The performance lifted the team’s spirits and had them very excited about things to come, starting this weekend at zMax Dragway.
“I am very encouraged, for sure,” Laughlin said. “Everybody is qualified so tight this weekend that it really doesn’t matter that much what position you end up in because all of the cars are pretty much running the same numbers.
“We do have a tough first round match-up tomorrow. We have four really good cars all going down the lanes at the same time so I know anything can happen. That includes us surprising some people with this Gas Monkey Energy Drink Chevrolet Camaro.”
As the No. 10 qualifier in the four-wide format, Laughlin will open race day opposite teammate and No. 2 qualifier Erica Enders (6.583 at 210.08 mph), No. 7 qualifier Tanner Gray (6.595 at 209.49 mph) and No. 15 qualifier Shane Tucker (6.758 at 204.14 mph). The first two cars to cross the finish line advance to the semifinals.
“If you purely talk about racing, it doesn’t matter who is in the other lane, whether it’s one or three other cars,” Laughlin said. “But four-wide messes some people up. You get up there to stage and everything is so different. Everybody is rushed because once the first guy gets staged, you have seven seconds for the three other cars to get in. It completely throws you off because everyone tries to get in before the car beside them.
“Just look at the timing sheets from qualifying. There are some really horrible reaction times. These are the best drivers on the planet and nobody is cutting lights out here so it’s definitely throwing everybody off. We only run one of these races a year so nobody gets used to it. It’s something new every single time. Maybe all that confusion will play to our advantage. You never know.”
Pro Stock eliminations start at 12:40 p.m., Sunday. Television coverage on FOX Sports 1 begins at 5:30 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in EDT).