Sunday during the first race of the 2023 NHRA Countdown Camrie Caruso and the Tequila Comisario Chevrolet Camaro raced to a quarterfinal finish and secured the young driver's first round win of her playoff career. Last year during her rookie campaign Caruso entered the Countdown No. 10 but suffered six straight first round losses in a tough end to a strong rookie campaign. This weekend Caruso's Tequila Comisario Chevrolet Camaro battled through two days of qualifying and entered race day as the No. 12 qualifier.
In the final qualifying session on Saturday Caruso made her best run of the weekend and gave the team confidence heading into a first round race with fellow Countdown competitor Deric Kramer. In the opening round today the veteran driver was first off the line against the second year pro, but Caruso quickly caught up to him and moved around him at half-track when he experienced severe tire-shake. Caruso made her quickest run of the weekend, a strong 6.537 second run at 209.36 mph to advance to the second round.
"Getting that first Countdown round win definitely helps," said Caruso, who won her first Pro Stock race at the Arizona Nationals this season. "I didn't like seeing my teammate Dallas Glenn go out so early, but the points are going to tighten up now. We are looking forward to getting to Charlotte and qualifying better and going rounds on Sunday. There are five races left and we want to do everything we can to try and win this championship."
In the quarterfinals Caruso faced the most recent winner, U.S. Nationals champion Matt Hartford looking to close the gap on the Pro Stock point leaders. The 2022 NHRA Rookie of the Year was first off the line and was pulling away from Hartford when her Tequila Comisario Chevrolet that also receives support from Big Jeff Audio, DENSO, Powerbuilt Tools and VP Racing Lubricants began to drift towards the centerline. In a veteran move Caruso opted to lift and keep control of her race car versus risking an on-track incident. At the finish line Hartford drove around Caruso for the win but Caruso knows she will be a contender in Charlotte with a quick and fast race car.
"We had him on the tree and at the 1000 but unfortunately when these cars get out of shape you have to get off the gas," said Caruso. "If you don't you going to end up over the wall or on your roof. We got our race car back after Q4 and I didn't want to do anything to mess that up. We were obviously struggling but now I feel like we have our race car back and we’re ready to go to Charlotte."
Caruso sits in ninth place but with five races left the deficit from first place and her first Pro Stock world championship is very manageable. The NHRA Camping World Series and Countdown playoffs will continue at the Betway Nationals from zMax Dragway, September 22-24.