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DeWalt NHRA Carolina Nationals Sunday preview

It's raceday at the DeWalt NHRA Carolina Nationals and there's a ton of drama surrounding eliminations. Points leads are in jeopardy and history could be made by Greg Anderson in Pro Stock. Here's what you need to know.
19 Sep 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
Race coverage
DeWalt NHRA Carolina Nationals

Will he or won’t he? That’s the question surrounding Pro Stock points leader Greg Anderson that’s on a lot of minds heading into raceday at the DeWalt NHRA Carolina Nationals.

One week ago, at the Countdown to the Championship opener in Reading, Pa., Anderson scored his 97th career win to tie class icon Warren Johnson as the class’ most prolific winner. With a strong performance today, he can become Pro Stock’s all-time wins leader.

Even though Anderson was not the low qualifier, he had the best run of each of Saturday’s qualifying sessions, thrusting him into the favorite’s role for today. He’ll open against Fernando Cuadra in round one but faces a potential semifinal battle with world champ and archrival Erica Enders if both get that far.

Low qualifier Aaron Stanfield starts against Wally Stroupe while Enders will open against Alan Prusiensky.

Points leads changed hands Saturday in Top Fuel and Funny Car, only adding to the drama of the second event of the Countdown.

Brittany Force qualified No. 1 for the eighth straight time and made three superb qualifying runs that each were the best of the session. Those bonus points lifted her into first place, just one point ahead of reigning world champ Steve Torrence, who had a spotty trio of runs.

She’ll open against Artie Allen and face a potential semifinal battle with either Billy or Steve Torrence, who could face one another in the second round if they escape their respective opening races against Doug Foley and Doug Kalitta.

Mike Salinas, hungry for his first win since 2019, also looked great in qualifying No. 2. He’ll go against Joe Morrison in round one.

John Force qualified No. 1 like his daughter but lost his points lead on his final pass when he crossed the centerline, the 10-point penalty putting him five points behind reigning world champ Matt Hagan.

Hagan, in his first race back after sitting out two events with COVID-19, had the only Funny Car that ran in the three-second run on all three passes. He and Force will probably meet in the semifinals with the points lead once again on the line.

Force’s teammate, Robert Hight, qualified No. 2 and is the favorite to reach the final from the other side of the ladder, but it’s also stacked with talent like Alexis DeJoria, J.R. Todd, and Cruz Pedregon.

Steve Johnson, who won the Pro Stock Motorcycle Countdown opener in Reading, had the best bike through qualifying and the long-suffering patriarch of the class can almost smell his first world championship.

He’ll most likely have a bye in round one with No, 16 qualifier Chris Bostick posting Saturday night about mechanical woes, but you never know who in the pits could pitch in to help him and throw up a potential roadblock on Johnson.

Johnson also has the easier side of the ladder with No. 4-qualified Joey Gladstone being his biggest threat to making the final; they could race in the semi’s.

The other half of the ladder includes world champs Angelle Sampey, Matt Smith, Eddie Krawiec, and Andrew Hines in what is sure to be a heated shootout for the final-round berth.

You can catch the action all weekend on FOX Sports 1 and NHRA.tv.

You can follow NHRA on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to get a closer look at the action.

Final eliminations are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET.

Qualifying: Sunday, Sept. 19, 10:AM - noon (FS1)
Eliminations: Sunday, Sept. 19 (FOX). Check local listings for air time