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Familiar NHRA Names Hit Paydirt In Las Vegas
Final round action in Funny Car saw Cruz Pedregon grabbing the win against Ron Capps, as both drivers had trouble in the finale but Pedregon was able to get to the finish line for the victory. Photo By Mike Burghardt

The Dodge SRT NHRA Nationals at Las Vegas represented the sixth of the seven “Countdown to the Championship” events of the season. All four of the Camping World NHRA professional categories, Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle were contested.

In Top Fuel, four drivers (Steve Torrence, Brittany Force, Mike Salinas and Justin Ashley) had legitimate chances to win the championship. Steve Torrence, the reigning champion (having won the last three titles in a row), came in as the point leader using strong consistent performances that included two wins in six events. Brittany Force was second by consistently being the quickest and fastest car in the category. At the end of the event, Torrence was once again the winner. In the process he all but nullified any chances for Mike Salinas and Justin Ashley in the 2021 Top Fuel Championship battle as he defeated Ashley in the semi-final round 3.688 at 329.58 mph to 3.727 at 331.69 mph and Salinas in the final round, 3.717 at 329.50 mph to 3.737 at 314.24 mph. Salinas had taken out Force in the semis, 3.703 at 324.79 mph to 3.682 at 33039 mph, making her (once again) the quickest and fastest loser of the round/event, as he beat her on a hole shot (0.027 to 0.058). For Brittany, it was the agony of defeat, as she had been working very hard to improve her reaction times, only to cut a very good light and still lose to a driver cutting a better reaction time. For Salinas, it was the pinnacle of success, as he had worked to improve his reaction skills from mediocre to consistently quick levels throughout the last three events.

In Funny Car five drivers had mathematical chances at the season championship. Ron Capps came in with about a one point lead over Matt Hagan, with John Force, Cruz Pedregon, and JR Todd in the hunt. In round one, Hagan, Force and Todd were gone. This allowed Capps to extend his lead over his nearest competitors. With all the other championship contenders out, the final round matchup between Pedregon and Capps all but nullified any chances for Force and Todd. In the final, Pedregon left first against Capps (0.022 to 0.049). But Capps was making up the difference until his engine let go around half track, ending his chances. Pedregon lost traction shortly later and had to pedal the car to keep it straight, completing a 4.257 at 225.03 mph to 6.854 at 80.86 mph win. Pedregon’s win improved his chances in the championship hunt (83 points back) and helped keep Hagan within a very strong striking distance (58 points back). At the season finals all point values attained are increased by 150 percent.

In Pro Stock, by some very strategic qualifying efforts by the Elite Motorsports team, enabled them to eliminate the point leader, Greg Anderson in the opening round of eliminations. Erica Enders was then able to advance to the final round, where she runner-upped to Dallas Glenn, 6.660 at 204.60 mph to 6.684 at 203.74 mph. How amped up were these two drivers? Glenn left first with a 0.001 to 0.005 reaction time and then drove away for the win. Going into the final event, Enders sits only 38 points back (just over one round of racing).

Pro Stock Motorcycle featured Steve Johnson taking on and defeating Karen Stoffer in the final round. Johnson left first (0.007 to 0.012) and held on for a 6.869 at 195.11 mph to 6.831 at 198.15 mph hole shot win. Point leader, Matt Smith was taken out in the semi-final round. Johnson now sits second, just 20 points back and Angelle Sampey just 30 points back heading into the season finale in two weeks.

At the NHRA event this past weekend in Las Vegas, Pro Stock Motorcycle featured Steve Johnson taking on and defeating Karen Stoffer in the final round. Johnson now sits second in the season points race, just 20 points back heading into the season finale in two weeks. Photo By Mike Burghardt