The NHRA returned to Las Vegas for the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA four-wide Nationals, for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic caused cancellation of the event in 2020. The event was still run under the COVID-19 restrictions, requiring masks and reduced fan attendance. The event did quickly sell out of all of the reduced amount available fan tickets.
Steve Torrence and his Capco Contractors team, qualified second and he captured his fifth four-wide Top Fuel event title in his last six tries. The Torrence family all have birthdays in the month of April, including his mom (Mamma Kay) Torrence, whose birthday comes on this date. “Stevo” also came into the event celebrating the birth of his young daughter (Haven) on the seventh of this month. Torrence performed a rare feat by winning each of his pre-final round quads. Each round, only the first two drivers getting to the finish line in each quad, advance. In the final, Torrence came up against Doug Kalitta, Clay Millican and Antron Brown. Brown left first (0.041), but lost traction. Torrence left second (0.042), but Kalitta got by him quickly and looked to have the race won until his motor went away, allowing Torrence to get by for a 3.823 at 321.73 mph to 3.866 at 270.75 mph victory. Millican finished third with a 3.914 at 290.88 mph effort. This is Torrence’s 41st career Top Fuel victory, making it a very special birthday month for the entire Torrence family.
In Funny Car, Bob Tasca III captured his first four-wide event win, seventh career Funny Car event win and ninth overall NHRA event win in his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang. In his final round quad, Tasca took out Matt Hagan, Tim Wilkerson and Ron Capps with a strong 3.938 at 328.46 mph. Wilkerson posted the quickest elapse time of the quad (3.922 at 320.43 mph), but Tasca and Hagan both posted better reaction times. This allowed Tasca to claim the holeshot win with Hagan finishing second and Wilkerson third.
In Pro Stock, Erica Enders struggled to a 13th qualifying spot, then marched her Elite Motorsport Chevy Camaro to her second career four-wide event win. She had previously won the event in Charlotte, and this was her 30th career Pro Stock win. She also has three NHRA Pro Stock season championships to her credit and is the only woman to win an event in Pro Stock history. In the final, she defeated Aaron Stanfield, Deric Kramer and Mason McGaha with a 6.656 at 205.88 mph.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Flyin’ Ryan Oehler laid down a 6.911-194.83 mph run to take out Scotty Pollacheck ( -0.010 red light), Steve Johnson (broke) and Corey Reed to collect his second career event win and first four-wide event win.
Team Force (John Force – Funny Car, Brittany Force – Top Fuel and Robert Hight – Funny Car) were welcomed by the fans and qualified tops in each of their respective categories. Hight was #1 in Funny Car (3.882 at 331.85 mph) followed by John at #2 (3.898 at 330.72mph). Brittany was tops in Top Fuel (3.732 at 320.66 mph). She also had low elapse time of the event at 3.722 seconds. But all three went down in order in the second round of eliminations, as their car performances dropped off slightly.
The next event (third of the season) is at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia. After 40 years, the track will be closing after this event, so there will be plenty of historical celebrations done at the event.