CONCORD, N.C. (April 30) — In just his second Pro Stock start of the 2017 season, Gas Monkey Energy Drink driver Alex Laughlin managed to reach the semifinal round of Sunday’s elimination action at the eighth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.
“The first couple of races getting started in a season, everybody is usually a little off and we have to remind ourselves these are just our first couple,” Laughlin said. “We have a little catching up to do but overall we’ve made some pretty respectable passes.
“We started out with a couple of solid passes in qualifying but it’s hard to get the car completely dialed in as quickly as we are trying. Still, we qualified 10th and that was good in this field. These are the best drivers in the world.”
The once-a-year four-wide race began with Laughlin advancing out of his quad of drivers by posting a 6.650-second quarter-mile pass at 208.36 mph. The run was better than two-time champ and Elite Motorsports teammate Erica Enders, who had qualified second overall but was timed out at the starting line, and Australian Shane Tucker, who went 6.709 at 204.98 mph.
In the semifinal foursome, Laughlin was third-best by a fraction of a second, his 6.631 at 209.23 mph just a few ticks behind second-best racer Shane Gray’s 6.618 at 209.26 mph. That ended his day.
“This whole four-wide deal is really a mess,” Laughlin said. “No one ever really gets used to it because we only run it once a year. It feels new every time you get back to it so it’s kind of a handicap for everybody.
“This was a super tight field out here this weekend, so it really didn’t matter where you qualified because no matter what you were going to race fast cars, period. We got through the first round alright, and then laid down a respectable pass in Round 2. Overall, we’re happy with our weekend. We saw a bunch of fans, made a lot of new friends and had some more success on the racetrack.”
Laughlin will return to driving his Top Alcohol Dragster for the next several weeks. Current plans have him back in Pro Stock for the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, June 16-18 at Bristol Dragway.