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NHRA Midwest Nationals Friday preview

The third event of the Countdown to the Championship playoffs takes center stage at World Wide Technology Raceway as the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to St. Louis.
24 Sep 2021
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
Race coverage
Ron Capps

The third event of the Countdown to the Championship playoffs takes center stage at World Wide Technology Raceway as the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to St. Louis.

The grueling NHRA “Fall Swing” concludes this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway with the NHRA Midwest Nationals, the fourt-striaght weekend of Camping World NHRA Series racing.

With three playoff rounds complete, nothing has been settled in Top Fuel, Funny Car, or Pro Stock with all three professional classes very much up for grabs.

Last weekend in Charlotte, Brittany Force wrested the points lead from reigning champ Steve Torrence, but her advantage is a slim 21 points with five events remaining in the season.

Force hasn’t won since Topeka, but her Monster Energy dragster has been unstoppable in qualifying, taking the top spot at eight straight races and scooping up all the accompanying qualifying bonus points that go with it.

Torrence and his Capco team have been good almost everywhere for the past few seasons but they seem to have a particular affinity for the St. Louis track. Torrence has appeared in the last four final rounds here, and scored back-to-back wins in 2017-18. Torrence’s father, Billy, is also the 2019 St., Louis winner.

While Force and Steve Torrence are the overwhelming favorites to win the championship, it is far from a two-horse race. Justin Ashley remains in the mix, just 74 points back while Billy Torrence is also a legit contender, sitting in fourth place with 82 points to make up.

On an historical note, should Steve Torrence win here, it will mark his 50th national event victory in the Top Fuel class.

While the battle for the title in Top Fuel is competitive, it pales in comparison to the fight that is ongoing in Funny Car where just 72 points separated the top seven drivers.

For the first time this season, Ron Capps is the leader but his advantage over teammate Matt Hagan is just 5 points while 16-time world champion John Force is third, 25 points back.

The other drivers in the mix include J.R. Todd (46), Cruz Pedregon (52), and Charlotte winner Tim Wilkerson and Robert Hight, who are tied, 72 points back.

The last two St. Louis winners in Funny Car are Tommy Johnson Jr. and Shawn Langdon, who are no longer racing in the class. Before that, Robert Hight won in 2018. That final was memorable for all the wrong reasons as Hight suffered an engine explosion after the finish line and hit the wall, suffering a fractured shoulder in the process.

Hight could use a win in the worst possible way after dropping to No. 7 in the standings. He’s got two career wins here, so this would be as good a place as any to mount a comeback.

The St. Louis event could be monumental in the career of four-time Pro Stock world champion Greg Anderson. With a win in his HendrickCars.com Camaro, Anderson can not only extend his points lead over Erica Enders and the rest of the field, but it would also be his 98th career win, breaking a tie with Warren Johnson for the most among Pro Stock racers.

The irony of breaking the record on the same track where Johnson won his final event in 2010 wouldn’t be lost on Anderson, or anyone else who follows the Pro Stock class.

Anderson currently enjoys a 65 point lead over four-time and reigning champ Enders while Charlotte winner Kyle Koretsky has moved to third, 91 points out of first place.

Enders has won the last two St. Louis races so if she can extend that streak, she’ll very likely cut into Anderson’s lead.

In addition to the Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock classes, the St. Louis event also includes the Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown, as well as a Mountain Motor Pro Stock and Outlaw Pro Mod exhibition.

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.

NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 5:30 p.m. CT on Friday, Sept. 24 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 25 at 1:15 and 3:45 p.m. CT. Final eliminations are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. CT on Sunday, Sept. 25.

TELEVISION SCHEDULE: (All times Eastern)
Qualifying: Friday, Sept. 24 (7-8 p.m.) FS1
Qualifying: Sunday, Sept. 26 (1-2 p.m.) FS1
Finals: Sunday, Sept. 26 (2-5 p.m.) FS1