Four months after the end of the 2020 season, it’s time to hand out some Wally trophies again on the Camping World NHRA Drag Racing tour as final eliminations kick off today at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals.
After three qualifying rounds held over the last two days, Steve Torrence, Ron Capps, Greg Anderson, and Angelle Sampey have emerged as the top qualifiers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle respectively.
Torrence, now a three-time champion, picked up right where he left off in 2020, qualifying No. 1 for the third time in the last four races dating back to the Dallas race. Torrence wheeled his Capco dragster to a 3.699 on Friday and his elapsed time was never bettered during Saturday’s two sessions. Torrence went to the final round of the last four events last season including the delayed Amalie Gatornationals so that makes him the odds-on favorite heading into Sunday’s eliminations.
Like Torrence, Capps also won the 2020 Gatornationals last September but the NAPA Auto Parts team he brought to Gainesville is far different from the crew he had six months ago. Longtime crew chief Rahn Tobler has retired and was replaced by Dean Antonelli and John Medlen, who tuned Jack Beckman to three wins and a third-place finish. Capps ran 3.895 to pace the field with Alexis DeJoria, Tim Wilkerson, and Robert Hight occupying the top four spots.
Anderson has now qualifier No. 1 107 times in 481 career races after driving his Race Star Wheels Camaro to a 6.525. Anderson is the low qualifier, but his advantage over the rest of the field is slim as all 16 qualifiers ran 6.583 or quicker. Anderson’s closest pursuers include four-time and reigning champ Erica Enders, Matt Hartford, and Deric Kramer.
Through three qualifying rounds, Angelle Sampey has been the class of the Pro Stock Motorcycle field on her all-new Vance & Hines/Mission Foods Suzuki. Sampey ran 6.74 twice this weekend and also topped the 200-mph mark for the first time in her long career. The three-time champion is chasing her 44th career win but will have to take on a stacked field that includes four-time champion Matt Smith, Scotty Pollacheck, and Joey Gladstone, who is also riding a Vance & Hines-prepared Suzuki.
In addition to the Camping World Series series pros, the E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod series, Top Fuel Harley, and Factory Stock Showdown, winners will also be crowned on Sunday in nine Lucas Oil Series sportsman classes.
You can catch the action all weekend on the Fox network, Fox Sports 1, and NHRA.tv.
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Sunday, March 14, FS1 will televise qualifying coverage from 11:00 a.m. to noon (ET)
Sunday, March 14, FOX TV will televise final eliminations live from noon to 3:00 p.m. (ET)
*NOTE: Daylight savings time officially begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 14