William Bradford, of the Mayflower, speaking in 1620 said that “All great and honorable actions come with great difficulties, and both must be undertaken and overcome with responsible courage.”
The road to an NHRA Championship is built from many paths, and the journey is accompanied by many travelers. The courage to persevere, to build or to rebuild again and again when necessary is what separates a champion from the competition.
As the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series unfolded in Epping, New Hampshire, the New England Dragway, NHRA drag racers and fans would do well to remember the spirit of revival that the pilgrims in this party of the country have set in motion. Their lessons, though hundreds of years old, still keep us going like a nitro-burning Hemi.
After the three qualifying sessions on Friday and Saturday, the Top Fuel and Funny Car fields are defined with a modified field of killer competitors. The Pro Stock scale is conventional, but filled with so much reaction time and assassins.
With a large crowd, assured good weather and excellent coverage on the Crown Jewel of FOX TV network to share the excitement, today’s race will be a race for the ages – and filled with the courage that would make those on the Mayflower pretty proud.
SUPERIOR FUEL: The Torrence family entered Epping as a Top Fuel team to beat. With momentum, past successes and the Lagana brothers who literally grew up running in New England. Billy Torrence was the man to master the pull-up power opportunity and stormed the Friday night session like a Nor’easter. After three laps, no one was able to touch their 3.744. Mike Salinas was close. He improved his race on Friday with a 3.771 on Saturday to place him just behind senior Torrence. J
Justin Ashley was one of the few drivers smiling after Friday, and although his car appeared to have a stuck throttle in the final session on Saturday, he put in a flawless run and held onto his third place finish. Steve Torrence had a very rare chip run on Friday night, but the three-time champion improved on Saturday with a run of 3.778 to place him in fourth place.
Top Fuel matches in the first round:
Billy Torrence vs. Joe Morrison
Antron Brown vs. Brittany Force
Mike Salinas vs. Buddy Hull
Doug Kalitta vs. Shawn Langdon
Justin Ashley vs. Leah Pruett
Steve Torrence vs. Clay Millican
FUNNY CAR: Knowing that there was little chance the other Funny Car teams could touch his Friday night times, Matt Hagan retained his No.1 spot and collected data while running two clean races on Saturday. He offered the crowd a great final pairing by taking on John Force again and running a 3.994 vs. 3.979, the fastest in the Force session. Good enough to move the Blue DEF Camaro of Force to third and keep Hagan’s Hellcat in first place.
The big hit of the day came from the NAPA Auto Parts team when Ron Capps improved his game with a 3.927 to 324.59 mph run that catapulted him to second place. Speaking of auto parts, New England property rights sponsor TascaParts.com Bob Tasca III has managed to climb to number five. But perhaps even more significant than his time frame of 3.962 seconds was the call his father, Bob Tasca II, made saying, “When we win this one we’ll give Alan. [Reinhart] a special discount on a Ford of their choice. In fact, we’ll take care of all of you! he said looking at the fans in the stands. Talk about âWin ââon Sunday. Sell ââon Monday! “
Team leader Del Worsham said he “missed it [Friday] night with the melody â, but managed to place Alexis DeJoria in second place for a brief period with all the DeJoria and Bandero Premium Tequila cheering him on. Cruz Pedregon stopped just past the 300-foot mark in Q2 to register a 4.81, making his official run good for fourth. In Q3 he came back with a stronger 3.969 and said, âWe hit the wall in Houston and we hit the wall here – something was wrong. We determined that there wasn’t enough space between my helmet and the cage, and I was probably the only Nitro rider here who didn’t wear a chin strap. Well, now I’m wearing a chin strap.
Funny Car matches in the first round:
Matt Hagan: Goodbye
Blake Alexander vs. Tim Wilkerson
Bob Tasca III vs. Jim Campbell
Alexis DeJoria vs. Robert Hight
Ron Capps vs. Terry Haddock
John Force vs. Cory Lee
Cruz Pedregon vs. JR Todd
PRO STOCK: After the Friday session, no one would have faulted you for thinking that Epping’s number one spot in Pro Stock went to a next-gen racer. Still, given that the No.1 qualifier in four of the last five Pro Stock events himself was old guard Greg Anderson, you should think he might have it in him to disrupt the trend – and boy, l ‘he said – with 6.526 in Q2 and setting a time that no one could touch.
Now Anderson can claim the No.1 qualifying spot in five of the six 2021 Pro Stock races. And the one he missed? It’s the race he called # 2 in Dallas Glenn’s car – a car Anderson was just tuning up.
Mason McGaha’s 6.538, Aaron Stanfield’s 6.545 and Matt Hartford’s 6.551 on Friday night survived Saturday’s two qualifying sessions and held them in second, third and fifth place. While Erica Enders 6.545 on Saturday showed an improvement over her race on Friday night, and reminded competitors of what she is capable of on this track. Deric Kramer’s intense focus also saw him cut his Friday night slip by more than half a second and register a 6.551 to 210.37 to complete the top six.
Round 1 Pro Stock Matches:
Greg Anderson vs. John Gaydosh
Troy Coughlin Jr. vs. Kenny Delco
Erica Enders vs. Bob Benza
Matt Hartford vs. Val Smeland
Mason McGaha vs. Chris McGaha
Dallas Glenn vs. Kyle Koretsky
Aaron Stanfield vs. Alan Prusiensky
Deric Kramer vs. Richie Stevens
SEE THE ACTION: You can see the NHRA qualifiers on FOX on FS1 and the final eliminations on FOX Broadcasting Network. Superfans can see every minute of the action on NHRA.tv.
On Sunday, May 11, FS1 will air a qualifying show from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, May 11, FOX will air the final eliminations from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. (ET).