2021 NHRA READING NATIONALS - EVENT RESULTS
SUNDAY - T. JOHNSON JR., B. TORRENCE, ANDERSON AND S. JOHNSON ALL WIN MOPAR EXPRESS LANE NHRA NATIONALS PRESENTED BY PENNZOIL
Filling in for defending world champ Matt Hagan, Funny Car veteran Tommy Johnson Jr. picked up a memorable win on Sunday, powering to the victory at the 36th annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Maple Grove Raceway.
Billy Torrence (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Steve Johnson (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won at the 14th of 20 races during the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season and the first race in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
With Hagan recovering from COVID-19, Johnson stepped in for his Don Schumacher Racing teammate at last week’s U.S. Nationals and this weekend’s playoff stop at Maple Grove Raceway, and he took full advantage of the opportunity. He went 3.926-seconds at 330.23 mph in the 11,000-horsepower Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, taking out John Force’s 3.946 in a thrilling side-by-side duel in the final round. Racing at the site of his first career Funny Car win, which came in 1999, Johnson took down Jim Campbell, Ron Capps and J.R. Todd to reach the final round. All the points Johnson gained this weekend went to Hagan per the NHRA’s replacement policy for medical reasons, but the veteran was thrilled to race.
“It was pretty cool. I was astonished. We’ve come a long way in a week,” said Johnson, who now has 23 career wins. “It meant a lot and I kept thinking of my dad (who passed away earlier this year) all day. The sport of drag racing is my whole life and to come out and win for these guys, it’s just amazing. I’m still astonished it happened. It was about as smooth of a transition to make this happen. To come out here and get a win, this race will mean a ton to me.
“I know it was close against John. He’s pretty good still and to race him in the final and get this opportunity after not racing all season, that makes it even more special. He’s the best the class has ever had and to top him means a lot.”
Force knocked off Indy winner Tim Wilkerson, Paul Lee and teammate Robert Hight to reach the final round for the fifth time this season and 261st time in his career. He also jumped into the points and leads Hagan by five points. Ron Capps is third, 15 points behind Force.
In Top Fuel, Torrence delivered one consistent performance after another, turning in a 3.720 at 326.08 in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster in the final round to knock off Justin Ashley. Torrence made a huge jump in points, moving from eighth to third on the strength of his second win this season and eighth in his career. He beat Josh Hart, Shawn Langdon and No. 1 qualifier Brittany Force to reach the final round, running 3.71 or 3.72 on all four passes in eliminations, including his run against Ashley in the championship round.
“That’s a really good team that ran really well and I had a good car,” Torrence said. “I’m certainly the weak link in my car, but they made me look good in the end. It says a lot for the boys. It’s a shame they don’t have a better driver, but the car is really good. I have a good time and at my extended age, I’m going to take all the wins I can get.”
Ashley reached his second final round in 2021 by knocking off Doug Kalitta, Clay Millican and points leader and three-time defending world champ Steve Torrence. But S. Torrence left with the points lead, though it’s now shrunk to just 12 over Force. B. Torrence trails his son by 42 points and Ashley moved up to fourth.
It was a huge day for Anderson in Pro Stock, as the veteran tied NHRA legend Warren Johnson for the most wins in class history, picking up his 97th career win with a victory over defending world champ Erica Enders in the final round. Anderson went 6.578 at 208.30 in the finals to beat Enders and earn his third victory of the season. Tying W. Johnson was something Anderson has been trying to do since early May and he took care of business to open the playoffs, beating John Gaydosh, Matt Hartford and Troy Coughlin Jr. to reach the finals. There, he left first on Enders before soaking in the memorable moment.
“I was absolutely shocked that the win light came on. There’s been so many races in a row where it simply wouldn’t come on,” Anderson said. “You think you have everything going well and the light just doesn’t come on in the final round. What a great, great feeling. There’s nothing better than when that win light comes on. It was a huge day to finally tie Warren. I learned so much from him and it’s kind of a cool story. Now I get a chance to try and beat him, and we’re going to Charlotte with a chance to break that record.”
Enders, who won last weekend in Indy, beat Larry Morgan, Chris McGaha and Dallas Glenn to reach the final round for the fourth time in 2021 and 59th time in her career. Anderson extended his points lead to 42 points over Enders, while Aaron Stanfield is third.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, S. Johnson finds himself in the points lead for the first time in seven years after beating Eddie Krawiec in the final round on his Mac Rak/Slick 50 Suzuki with a run of 6.775 at 196.87. It was the quickest run of eliminations in the class and Johnson earned his second win this season and eighth in his career. It’s also the first time Johnson has won two races in a season since 2008. To get there, he knocked off Jim Underdahl, Scotty Pollacheck and No. 1 qualifier Angelle Sampey, quickly turning things around this weekend after a slow start.
“Clearly you want to be leading the points and it’s great, but what it really boils down to is the process,” Johnson said. “Leading the points is just a dream. The driver that was here on Friday and Saturday, he was atrocious. I just got sideways and everybody said go back to fundamentals. I was out here for a long time before racing started just working on the fundamentals. You can always learn. I was really, really bad on Friday and Saturday, and everyone was going fast. That’s a classic example or riding a bike or driving it, and the driver was here on Sunday.”
Krawiec reached his second straight final round and 78th in his career by defeating Kelly Clontz, Angie Smith and defending world champ Matt Smith, who now trails Johnson by 12 points. Krawiec is 36 points back of Johnson.
The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns Sept. 17-19 with the DeWalt NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte.
SATURDAY - PEDREGON, B. FORCE, ENDERS AND SAMPEY EARN NO. 1 SPOTS AT MAPLE GROVE
For the first time in more than six years, Cruz Pedregon is the No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car, as the veteran claimed the top spot on Saturday to close out qualifying at the 36th annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Maple Grove Raceway.
Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also qualified No. 1 at the 14th of 20 races during the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season and the first race in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Pedregon last qualified No. 1 in 2015, but that changed during Saturday’s final qualifying session, as he powered to a run of 3.875-seconds at 326.00 mph in his Snap-On Tools Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. It is the 62nd career No. 1 qualifier for Pedregon, who is seeking his third career victory at Maple Grove Raceway.
“I didn’t even realize it was that long ago,” said the former two-time Funny Car champ. “We’ve been steady and knocking on the door. John Collins, my crew chief, definitely thought there’s great rewards and it would pay off to get that No. 1 spot and get on the right side of the ladder. Sometimes winning these races, you have to get on the right side of the ladder and avoid the big hitters, until the later rounds. That’s how it worked out. The car really responded, and it really has been responding the last six races. The car is just so consistent. I don’t know if I’ve ever driven a car as consistent as this one. It’s not easy to drive, but it’s going places, that’s for sure.”
Robert Hight qualified second with his 3.883 at 330.39 from Friday, while Indy winner Tim Wilkerson jumped to third with a 3.884 at 332.67. Points leader Ron Capps is fifth with a 3.896 at 328.66.
Force stayed No. 1 in Top Fuel, but lowered her already impressive time, going 3.660 at 334.07 in her 11,000-horsepower Flav-R-Pac dragster. That gives Force an incredible seven straight No. 1 qualifiers, nine this year and 29 for her career. She made the quickest run in each of the three qualifying sessions, giving the team plenty of confidence heading into raceday. She became the first driver since 2007 to have seven straight No. 1 qualifiers and the first in Top Fuel history to have seven No. 1 spots in a row in the same season.
“That’s a pretty outstanding record to have,” Force said. “But, really, looking at today and yesterday, that Q2 run that we had today, to be able to step it up was pretty outstanding. That was a big run for us and that’s the run I’m most excited about. But we laid three solid passes down and that’s pretty outstanding. I’m proud of this team and I can’t wait to get this Countdown going. We’re all pumped and we’re all excited, and we’re all delivering. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”
Points leader and three-time defending world champ Steve Torrence stayed second following his pass of 3.692 at 327.19 from Friday and Clay Millican is third thanks to his 3.696 at 322.65 from the first qualifier as well.
Following her impressive victory last weekend at the U.S. Nationals, Enders stepped up on Saturday in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, qualifying No. 1 with a run of 6.524 at 209.56. For the defending back-to-back world champ, it’s her first No. 1 qualifier this season and 23rd in her standout career. It also puts her on a good path heading into eliminations, where she’ll open raceday against veteran Larry Morgan.
“We’ll need all the points we can get (in the Countdown) and those qualifying points will definitely matter. They have in our past championship runs and we’ll take all we can get, but having a great race car going into Sunday definitely gives you confidence,” Enders said. “After the Friday night session, we felt like we left some on the table, so we felt like there was more. I definitely feel like we’re all clicking. We have our work cut out for us and the competition is stout, but I’m ready to get down to business.”
Points leader Greg Anderson qualified second with a run of 6.530 at 209.79 on Saturday, while Aaron Stanfield’s 6.534 at 209.88 puts him third.
Sampey stayed No. 1 in Pro Stock Motorcycle, but got better on Saturday on her Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki, taking the top spot with a run of 6.745 at 196.64. It hands her the No. 1 position for the second time this season and 53rd time in her career and she’ll open raceday against Jianna Salinas. Coming off a final round appearing in Indy, Sampey will try to finish the job this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway.
“It was a great start to the weekend and I’m excited about it because it’s the same motorcycle I’ve had all year long,” Sampey said. “That bike was capable of doing that from Gainesville to here, it was just me not driving it well. I’m starting to get the hang of it and I’m starting to get more comfortable on the bike, and it’s showing. My teammate, Eddie (Krawiec), did so well at Indy, qualifying No. 1 and winning the race, and I’d like to follow in his footsteps this weekend.”
Points leader and defending world champ Matt Smith jumped to second in the final qualifying session with a run of 6.750 at 201.91. He set the speed record earlier in the day at 202.09. Eddie Krawiec got bumped to third with his run of 6.763 at 201.67 from Friday.
Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Maple Grove Raceway.
Sunday's first-round pairings for eliminations for the 36th annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Maple Grove Raceway, the 14th of 20 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.
Top Fuel -- 1. Brittany Force, 3.660 seconds, 334.07 mph vs. Bye; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.692, 327.19 vs. 13. Joe Morrison, 4.027, 249.90; 3. Clay Millican, 3.696, 322.65 vs. 12. Doug Foley, 3.856, 297.55; 4. Mike Salinas, 3.699, 332.18 vs. 11. Shawn Langdon, 3.813, 321.27; 5. Billy Torrence, 3.699, 327.98 vs. 10. Josh Hart, 3.756, 322.65; 6. Justin Ashley, 3.721, 328.78 vs. 9. Doug Kalitta, 3.743, 325.69; 7. Antron Brown, 3.731, 329.34 vs. 8. Leah Pruett, 3.733, 323.89.
Funny Car -- 1. Cruz Pedregon, Dodge Charger, 3.875, 326.00 vs. Bye; 2. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.883, 330.39 vs. 13. Cory Lee, Ford Mustang, 4.229, 298.93; 3. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.884, 332.67 vs. 12. John Force, Camaro, 4.096, 256.84; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.895, 333.82 vs. 11. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.093, 310.20; 5. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.896, 328.86 vs. 10. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 4.036, 308.50; 6. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.913, 328.22 vs. 9. Paul Lee, Charger, 3.941, 330.47; 7. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.916, 330.31 vs. 8. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.940, 327.98.
Pro Stock -- 1. Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.524, 209.56 vs. 16. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.665, 207.72; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.530, 209.79 vs. 15. John Gaydosh Jr, Camaro, 6.640, 208.10; 3. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.534, 209.88 vs. 14. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.629, 206.45; 4. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.537, 208.39 vs. 13. Bob Benza, Camaro, 6.614, 208.62; 5. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.547, 209.98 vs. 12. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.603, 208.65; 6. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.552, 208.42 vs. 11. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.575, 207.02; 7. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.556, 209.69 vs. 10. Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.573, 210.21; 8. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.563, 209.56 vs. 9. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.565, 206.92.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 1. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.745, 196.64 vs. 16. Jianna Salinas, Suzuki, 7.005, 191.43; 2. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.750, 201.91 vs. 15. Ron Tornow, Victory, 6.981, 188.33; 3. Eddie Krawiec, Buell, 6.763, 201.67 vs. 14. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.969, 192.99; 4. Scotty Pollacheck, EBR, 6.803, 198.96 vs. 13. Chris Bostick, 6.942, 191.57; 5. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.812, 198.15 vs. 12. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.928, 193.85; 6. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.817, 199.23 vs. 11. Andrew Hines, Buell, 6.920, 196.67; 7. Cory Reed, Suzuki, 6.840, 195.79 vs. 10. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 6.907, 195.87; 8. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.854, 196.70 vs. 9. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.875, 192.80.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Marc Ingwersen, 7.212, 186.98; 18. David Barron, 7.379, 150.72.
FRIDAY - B. FORCE, HIGHT, KORETSKY AND SAMPEY GRAB PROVISIONAL NO. 1 SPOTS AT MAPLE GROVE
Looking to qualify No. 1 for the seventh straight race, Brittany Force powered to a great start, taking the provisional top spot and setting the track speed record at Maple Grove Raceway on Friday at the 36th annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil.
Robert Hight (Funny Car), Kyle Koretsky (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also the provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the 14th of 20 races during the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season and the first race in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Force rocketed to No. 1 on Friday in her 11,000-horsepower Flav-R-Pac dragster with a run of 3.666-seconds at 335.57 mph, making the fastest run in Maple Grove Raceway history in Top Fuel. If that holds, the former world champ would qualify No. 1 for the seventh straight race, the ninth time in 2021 and the 29th time in her standout career. It would also mark a great start to the Countdown to the Championship for Force, who entered the playoffs second in points behind defending three-time world champ Steve Torrence.
“That run felt fast; that finish line came up quick,” said Force. “So, it’s get the chutes out, turn the fuel off, but it feels good to be able to run like that for our first qualifying pass of the night. To grab that No. 1 currently, it gives confidence to the entire team. It helps us feel strong going into tomorrow. Right now, this Countdown has begun right here in Reading, Pennsylvania. Everything is on the line right now. We have to repeat that the rest of the weekend.”
Torrence is second after the first round of qualifying following his pass of 3.692 at 327.19 and Clay Millican is third with a 3.696 at 322.65.
Hight enjoyed a strong start to his 2021 playoffs, making the quickest run in Funny Car on Friday with a tremendous pass of 3.883 at 333.82 in his 11,000-horsepower Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS. If it holds, Hight would qualify No. 1 for the second time this year and 70th time in his standout career. Entering the playoffs sixth in points, Hight is eager to make a big jump to kick off the Countdown to the Championship. Tommy Johnson Jr. went 3.895 at 333.82 to position himself second. He is filling in for Matt Hagan, who is recovering from COVID-19. Bob Tasca III is third following his run of 3.913 at 328.22.
Racing at his home track, Pro Stock’s Koretsky impressed in front of friends and family, vaulting to the No. 1 position with a pass of 6.547 at 209.98 in his Lucas Oil Chevrolet Camaro. His KB Racing teammate, points leader Greg Anderson, ran an identical time, but Koretsky’s speed was faster than Anderson’s 209.33, putting him in the top spot as the young standout seeks his second straight No. 1 qualifier. Koretsky has also raced to back-to-back final rounds, including last weekend’s U.S. Nationals, and continued that momentum on Friday. Following Anderson is Aaron Stanfield, who is currently in the third position after going 6.548 at 209.62.
Fresh off her final round at the U.S. Nationals, Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Sampey turned in a strong run right off the trailer on her Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki, going 6.761 at 198.85. If it holds, it would be Sampey’s second top qualifier this season and 53rd in her career. Opening the Countdown to the Championship fifth in points, Sampey had a fantastic start at the site of her first career victory in the class. Her teammate and U.S. Nationals winner Eddie Krawiec followed in second with a run of 6.763 at 201.67, setting the track speed record and making the first 200-mph run in the class at Maple Grove Raceway. Defending world champ and points leader Matt Smith is currently third after going 6.766 at 201.34.
Qualifying continues at 12:15 p.m. ET on Saturday at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Maple Grove Raceway.
Friday's results after the first one of three rounds of qualifying for the 36th annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Maple Grove Raceway, 14th of 20 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday's final eliminations.
Top Fuel -- 1. Brittany Force, 3.666 seconds, 335.57 mph; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.692, 327.19; 3. Clay Millican, 3.696, 322.65; 4. Mike Salinas, 3.699, 332.18; 5. Billy Torrence, 3.699, 327.98; 6. Justin Ashley, 3.729, 327.74; 7. Leah Pruett, 3.733, 323.89; 8. Josh Hart, 3.793, 323.81; 9. Doug Kalitta, 3.833, 319.67; 10. Doug Foley, 3.856, 297.55; 11. Antron Brown, 3.871, 302.14; 12. Joe Morrison, 4.167, 223.84; 13. Shawn Langdon, 4.870, 147.70.
Funny Car -- 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.883, 330.39; 2. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.895, 333.82; 3. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.913, 328.22; 4. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.914, 321.42; 5. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.932, 325.06; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.932, 290.82; 7. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.940, 327.98; 8. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.956, 328.38; 9. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 4.036, 308.50; 10. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.113, 292.27; 11. John Force, Camaro, 6.880, 92.36; 12. Paul Lee, Charger, 9.838, 75.83.
Not Qualified: 13. Cory Lee, broke.
Pro Stock -- 1. Kyle Koretsky, Chevy Camaro, 6.547, 209.98; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.547, 209.33; 3. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.548, 209.62; 4. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.550, 209.04; 5. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.552, 208.42; 6. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.553, 209.85; 7. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.565, 209.30; 8. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.570, 209.65; 9. Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.573, 210.21; 10. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.579, 207.88; 11. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.593, 208.94; 12. Bob Benza, Camaro, 6.614, 208.62; 13. John Gaydosh Jr, Camaro, 6.640, 208.10; 14. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.643, 207.85; 15. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.704, 189.84; 16. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 8.103, 161.19.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 1. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.761, 198.85; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Buell, 6.763, 201.67; 3. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.766, 201.34; 4. Scotty Pollacheck, EBR, 6.829, 198.52; 5. Cory Reed, Suzuki, 6.867, 194.24; 6. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.872, 199.94; 7. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.879, 195.90; 8. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.882, 196.02; 9. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 6.924, 194.49; 10. Chris Bostick, 6.942, 191.57; 11. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.004, 192.28; 12. Jianna Salinas, Suzuki, 7.005, 191.43; 13. Andrew Hines, Buell, 7.099, 198.41; 14. Ron Tornow, Victory, 7.120, 189.26; 15. David Barron, EBR, 7.379, 150.72; 16. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.476, 160.84.
Not Qualified: 17. Karen Stoffer, 10.454, 79.47; 18. Marc Ingwersen, broke.