New England Dragway is one of the jewels of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. The track offers a throwback feel with an up-close-and personal experience of the quickest and fastest drag cars on earth. It’s New Hampshire’s version of California’s Famoso Raceway; a national-event-level racing surface, an intimate fan experience, and great views from the stands and RV Camping sites.
The long trek to the Northeast meant only the top teams with the logistical resources necessary made it to this corner of the country. So every car on the property was a killer and fans got an intense show. Friday’s schedule kicked off with sportsman qualifying followed by a round of qualifying for competitors in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock.
Top Fuel: The atmospheric conditions Friday night meant every single combustion stroke offered maximum performance. Every car on the property had the power to blow the tires off. Track records looked to be an endangered species and the crowds were poised to see a Top Fuel dragster run faster than 331.69 mph. By the end of the first session, however, it was clear the power was there but putting it all to the ground proved elusive.
The two cleanest runs in Top Fuel were made by the oldest and youngest drivers competing in the class. Billy Torrence made the quickest pass of 3.744 seconds at 324.98 mph to put him in the number 1 position. In the other lane, the Mac Tools dragster of Doug Kalitta found enough traction to manage a 4.002-second run at 252.8 mph and put him in the number 3 slot.
Right behind Torrence was Justin Ashley’s dragster that was tuned to a 3.774-seconds pass at 322.58 mph by Mike Green to secure the number 2 slot. From there the power-to-traction quotient nudged closer and closer to tire spin and shake. Antron Brown’s 6.610-second pass at 88.28, Brittany Force's 6.63 seconds at 87.22 mph, Shawn Langdon's 8.534 seconds at 86.09 mph, and Steve Torrence's 8.562 seconds at 87.76 mph showed just how close the line between “strong run” and “also-ran" was.
Funny Car: Matt Hagan is fifth in championship points, but when it comes to Epping runs he is number one. Hagan’s crew chief Dickie Venables worked his magic and pulled out a 3.891 and 331.53 mph. Folks, they are going to four-in-a-row in Epping.
JR Todd made the second-best run at 3.976 seconds at 324.05, and Blake Alexander was able to put together a 4.040 seconds pass at 317.94 mph that was good for the number 3 slot. From there on down the list drivers made a frustrating batch of runs that swapped record runs for tire shake and spin. Ron Capps ran 7.303 seconds at 93.34, John Force 7.431 seconds at 85.24, Cory Lee hit 7.479 seconds at 89.55, and Alexis DeJoria pulled of 7.603 seconds at 88.35 mph.
Pro Stock: The evening’s pro session kicked off with Pro Stock, and fans witnessed Mason McGaha run 6.538 seconds at 210.28 mph to claim the low qualifier. Aaron Stanfield, who has the lowest average reaction time in 2021 (at 0.024 seconds) took the second spot with a 6.545 seconds 210.83 mph, and Erica Enders pulled out a 6.548 seconds 210.24 mph after completing an uncharacteristically long burnout.
Matt Hartford's softer 6.551-second pass at 210.37 mph came with a nearly identical 60-foot time to Stanfield's run. "Cautious runs" replaced "record runs" with the hopes that Saturday's second session would come with just as much power and more hook.