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Rookie Camrie Caruso earns first No. 1 qualifier at final NHRA SpringNationals

by Mike Haag | Posted on Saturday, April 23rd, 2022

By Mike Haag, Raceday San Antonio

BAYTOWN, Texas – Camrie Caruso rolled into Texas this weekend and made a loud statement in the NHRA Pro Stock class during qualifying at the final NHRA SpringNationals at Houston Raceway Park.

Camrie Caruso. Photo courtesy of Auto Imagery

The 24-year-old rookie driver from Denver, N.C. clinched her first career No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock in just five races on Saturday.

On Friday night during the opening round of Pro Stock qualifying, Caruso recorded a run of 6.547 at 209.39 mph in her Sand Haulers of America Chevrolet Camaro. After two more rounds of qualifying on Saturday, her time held up and she will start Sunday’s elimination round facing Fernando Cuadra in the first round.

“This means the world to me and my team and everyone who backs me,” Caruso said. “They definitely deserve it and we’re happy to head into raceday No. 1. I would never thought we could have achieved such a cool thing so soon. I just see it as another learning experience because the competition out here is crazy.”

While all eyes were on hometown Pro Stock driver Erica Enders, it was Caruso who stole the show on Enders’ home track and denied the four-time champion from earning the No. 1 qualifier.

Camrie Caruso. Photo courtesy of Auto Imagery

Enders was second fastest and she was able to make strong runs in the 6.55 range on Saturday, but it was her 6.553 at 210.87 mph pass on Friday that gave her the second spot. Enders will face Christian Cuadra in the first round on Sunday.

After 35 years of NHRA racing at Houston Raceway Park, Caruso becomes the first female Pro Stock driver to earn a No. 1 qualifier and the fifth driver in NHRA history to earn their first No. 1 qualifier at this track. She joins a list comprised of Larry Morgan (1989), Mark Pawuk (1990), Ronnie Humphrey (2011) and Dallas Glenn (2021).

Camrie Caruso. Photo courtesy of Auto Imagery

Caruso is also now tied with Glenn for the quickest number of races to earn a top qualifier.

“I’m super grateful for that opportunity and to be it, it’s definitely I never would have thought that we could have achieved such a cool thing so soon,” Caruso said.

Caruso, whose team is led by veteran Pro Stock driver and tuner Jim Yates, has posted two quarterfinal finishes this season. She has the only Pro Stock team that is powered by Titan Racing Engines.

“My goals at the start of the season were to be No. 1 qualifier, win races and win the championship,” Caruso said. “Jim was like you need to chill. We have done just that and we are really heading in the right direction. It is all because of my team and sponsors like Sand Haulers of America, GESi, Powerbuilt Tools, Right Trailers, Titan Racing Engines and VP Racing Lubricants.”

Camrie Caruso. Photo courtesy of Auto Imagery

Caruso has qualified for every national event this season and is currently 11th in  the Pro Stock point standings. She trails class leader Glenn by 178 points. Her previous best qualifying effort was seventh at the season-opening Winternationals at Pomona, Ca.

“The competition out here is crazy good,” Caruso said. “Anyone could have taken this No. 1 today. It doesn’t matter that we were No. 1 yesterday. We had to hang onto that top spot through Q3.”

Caruso added, “We just want to keep making good passes up and down the track. We want to be consistent and keep working as a team. I have said it from day one I don’t want to disappoint any of them. They don’t put pressure on me. I put more pressure on myself. They have done so much for me. I really just want to make them all proud.”

About the Author

Mike Haag has covered motorsports in San Antonio and South Texas for more than 34 years. In addition to covering motorsports for the San Antonio Express-News for nearly 28 years, Mike also has co-hosted TrackSmack with Dawn Murphy for 17 race seasons. In addition to being a writer, Mike taught high school English and Journalism for 30 years before retiring in May, 2020.