The Gatornationals return to Gainesville Raceway on Thursday as the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series gets underway. The race, which debuted in 1970, serves as the season opener for just the second time in its over 50 years of racing.
A fan-fest on Wednesday kicked off the event, but the racing begins Thursday as the first round of qualifiers gets under way. The Sportsman and Top Alcohol qualifying sessions will take place at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. respectively, before the racing picks up on Friday.
Good morning from Gainesville Raceway. ☀️
The 54th Amalie Motor Oil @NHRA Gatornationals kicks off TODAY!
TICKETS 🎫 https://t.co/AHdVLEtxZu pic.twitter.com/p6JISowUOq
— Gainesville Raceway (@GvilleDragRaces) March 9, 2023
Friday and Saturday will see the bulk of qualifying, with almost 12 hours of racing each day. Saturday will also feature the NHRA All-Star Top Fuel Callout races, in which the eight fastest drivers in the Top Fuel class get to choose their opponent based on their seed.
That all leads up to Sunday with elimination races in all of the different classes, concluding with the Nitro Eliminations Sunday afternoon.
Will the Weather Impact the Gatornationals?
The weather for the weekend could have some impacts on the event with a forecast for rain on Friday and a lot of heat on Saturday.
According to John Force Racing’s Austin Prock, that heat on Saturday could have big impacts on the races.
Prock won twice in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series last year in the Top Fuel class but will look to win his first Gatornationals this weekend. He finished third in the Top Fuel class last season.
2o22 Gatornationals Results
Don’t miss the action from the Amalie Oil #Gatornats on @FOXSports!
Saturday at 11a ET on @FS1
Sunday at 9a ET on FS1@pepboysauto All-Star Callout:
Sunday at 10:30a ET on FS1
Sunday at 12p ET on @FOXTV pic.twitter.com/j0OxAxDzno
— NHRA (@NHRA) March 9, 2023
The 2022 Gatornationals from Gainesville Raceway took place just over one year ago, and both the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes saw first time winners.
Tripp Tatum won the Top Fuel class, while Matt Hagan won the Funny Car class. Both racers will look to defend their title titles starting on Saturday when both classes begin their qualifying.
Tatum was 17th place in the Top Fuel class, picking up his only win of the season in Gainesville. Meanwhile, Hagan came in third falling just 95 points behind the leader, Ron Capps.
Brittany Force, Ron Capps, Erica Enders and Matt Smith were eventual champions of the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, which concluded in November. All four will be on site at this year’s Gatornationals with hopes to kickoff the 2023 season with a win.