The first of two back-to-back races in Texas leading to the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season finale in Las Vegas the last weekend of October kicks off with two rounds of qualifying Saturday at Texas Motorplex.
Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 12:30 and 4:45 p.m. Central time and fans will get a double treat as Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle competition from the weather-hampered Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals will complete their eliminations concurrent with FallNationals qualifying. You can find a list of competitors still in action and the schedule for those rounds here.
Homestate hero Steve Torrence returns to Texas holding a slim two-point lead over Midwest Nationals champ Doug Kalitta, who defeated him in a titanic final-round match two weeks ago. With just three events left, every qualifying bonus point, every run will be Texas-sized important as Torrence battles to win a third straight championship and Kalitta works towards what would be a long-overdue first crown. Torrence won this race in 2018 and his father and teammate, Billy, won it last year. Kalitta has two wins at Texas Motorplex, in 2002 and 2013.
Leah Pruett will return to battle after her spectacular crash at the Midwest Nationals. She’s still in third place and the Mopar team has “repossessed” its backup car from teammate Tony Schumacher as they try to propel her to what also would be a first championship crown in the class.
The Don Schumacher Racing team will be shooting for its 12th consecutive NHRA Funny Car Wally, a string that began a year ago at this event with Matt Hagan’s final-round victory over Bob Tasca III. Three-time and defending event champ Hagan holds a lead of less than a round’s worth of points on DSR teammate Jack Beckman, with their Midwest Nationals-winning teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. in third place, just a round and a half behind Hagan and less than a round behind Beckman, and fourth DSR driver Ron Capps a distant 113 back of Beckman. Neither Beckman, Johnson, nor Capps have won this event before.
Jason Line, competing in his final season in the class and his last appearance at Texas Motorplex, is clinging to a two-point lead in Pro Stock over reigning world champ Erica Enders, and both are still in competition from the Midwest Nationals and either could put 60 more points on the board if they win on Saturday. Enders Elite Motorsports teammate, Jeg Coughlin Jr., who also is in his final full season in the class and in third place, is out of the Midwest Nationals compeition. Coughlin has been the runner-up at this event the last two years running, to Greg Anderson last year and to Tanner Gray in 2018.
Teammates Matt Smith and Scotty Pollacheck, winners of the Gatornationals and U.S. Nationals, respectively, and separated by just 21 points, also are still in the Midwest Nationals show that will finish today and then turn their attention to fending off Harley-Davidson rivals Andrew Hines, who sits just seven points behind Pollacheck, Angelle Sampey, and Eddie Krawiec , who sit in positions 3-5 in the standings.
Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley points leader Randal Andras likely will become the first national-event series world champion crowned this year, contingent upon him qualifying for the eight-bike field. Andras has won five of the six events this year and could clinch this weekend with one race (Las Vegas) also still on the schedule.
Today’s action will also feature the Top Alcohol Dragster final round from the rain-delayed Gatornationals, pitting Julie Nataas against Josh Hart, and the Gatornationals SAMTech.edu NHRA Factory Stock Showdown final between points leader Aaron Stanfield and teammate David Janac. Those final rounds will take place during each eliminator’s respective second qualifying session, and both classes will also run full eliminators for FallNationals titles.
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Saturday, Oct.17: FS1 will show qualifying highlights from 7:30-8:30 p.m. Eastern
Sunday, Oct. 18: FS1 will show qualifying highlights from 1-2 p.m. Eastern
Sunday, Oct. 18 : FS1 Will televise three hours of live final eliminations from 2-5 p.m. Eastern