Steve Torrence, Bob Tasca III, and Dallas Glenn take top spots at Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals
Reigning and three-time Top Fuel world champion grabbed the top spot on Saturday at Houston Raceway Park while the current Funny Car points leader continued his recent hot streak by claiming the pole position in Funny Car. They were joined by Dallas Glenn, who one week after winning the Four Wide Nationals in Charlotte, earned his first low qualifier award in Pro Stock. The nitro teams were held to just one qualifying session while Pro Stock teams received two runs before rain forced an early end to the day’s activities.
Given the looming threat of bad weather, many times opted to take a more conservative approach to qualifying, but the Capco team wasn’t one of them. Torrence blasted to a 3.727 to qualify No. 1 for the second time this season and 29th time in his career. Torrence has not skipped a beat this year, particularly in qualifying where he’s been ranked either first or second at all five races this season. Torrence will race against No. 14 qualifier Mitch King in the opening round.
“We’re just going to do the best we can,” said Torrence, who lost in the final round at Houston in 2020. “I’m going to try to get (winning at Houston) off my back this weekend. We’ll do the best we can. I’ve had an unbelievable career to this point and we’ve been in the final round a couple different times and just not been able to get it done. It’s not for lack of effort or lack of trying. We’ll just do the best we can, and we’ll have a good time and try to put on a good show for the fans.”
The third-quickest qualifier a week ago in Charlotte, Leah Pruett will start from the No. 2 spot following a 3.733 from her special edition Pennzoil dragster while Atlanta winner Antron Brown also continued his recent string of solid performances with a 3.749.
Some of the drivers who weren’t as fortunate and didn’t make it down the track on their one and only attempt include Gainesville champ Josh Hart, Doug Kalitta, Billy Torrence, and last season’s Rookie of the Year, Justin Ashley. As a result, Billy Torrence will square off against Mike Salinas without lane choice while Ashley will be paired against Pruett and Kalitta has drawn a tough battle against Force.
Five Funny Cars took to the track in the second session before the rains hit, and one of them was Tasca, who wheeled his Motorcraft Quick Lane Ford to a 3.908 to take the tops spot for the sixth time this season. Although he’s won two races, Tasca was previously the No. 2 qualifier in Atlanta but had been ranked as low as ninth this season. Tasca also blistered the mph clocks with a 331.53 mph top speed.
“We knew we were going to have an advantage going into that last session because we saw the radar,” Tasca said. “To get an opportunity to put this Motorcraft car on the pole, it’s always better starting No. 1 than No. 16. We lost our mojo a little bit in Charlotte, but it’s great to come out here, run 331 (mph) and qualify No. 1, and we’ll see what we can do Sunday.”
Alexis DeJoria, the leader after the first session, held on for the second spot with a 3.912 in her ROKiT/Bandero Toyota at just 307-mph followed by Ron Capps with a 3.941. Capps did not get down the track on the first run. When he got a second shot at the Houston Raceway Park track, his crew, led by Dan Antonelli and John Medlen, did not miss.
Sunday’s parings in Funny Car will feature Tasca against Jim Campbell, DeJoria against Todd Simpson, and Capps against Paul Lee. Perhaps the most anticipated match-up of the opening round will feature No. 8 J.R. Todd vs. No. 9 John Force. Both drivers have already won races this year and enter the SpringNationals ranked second and third in the Camping World NHRA Funny Car standings.
A week after scoring his first win in the Pro Stock class, rookie Dallas Glenn has his first pole. Glenn wheeled his Rad Torque Systems Camaro to a 6.549 in the first session. Glenn tied his teammate, Greg Anderson, but did so with a slightly faster speed. Glenn managed to withstand a barrage of 6.5-second runs during the second session to hold onto the top spot. Glenn, who announced earlier on Saturday that he’d secured the funding to race a full season in Pro Stock, will have lane choice when he takes on Cristian Cuadra in Sunday’s opening round.
“This just proves how good this KB racing car is,” said Glenn. “[Crew chiefs] Rob Downing and Dave Connolly have been working hard on it and we’ve still got Jason Line out there. To go from not starting in the top half of the field to being No. 1 is awesome. I’m just so excited and I’m ready to get out there and race.”
The KB team swept the top three spots in Pro Stock with Glenn and Anderson joined by third-ranked Kyle Koretsky, who posted a best of 6.552 in his Lucas Oil/Nitro Fish Camaro. Reigning and four-time world champion Erica Enders will attempt to win her hometown race from the No. 4 spot after making consistent runs of 6.563 and 6.554 in her Elite Camaro.
The remainder of the top half includes Matt Hartford, defending Houston winner Aaron Stanfield, Troy Coughlin Jr. and Deric Kramer. Also in the mix is Rodger Brogdon, who is making his first appearance of the season in an Elite-powered Camaro as well as two-time Comp champ and Fox TV pit reporter Bruno Massel, who is locked into the No. 10 spot after a 6.574 best. Perhaps the most intriguing match-up of the opening round features Stanfield vs. Mason McGaha in a battle of between two of the sport’s up-and-coming young stars.
Saturday’s jam-packed scheduled also included a mix of qualifying and eliminations in Top Alcohol Dragster, Top Alcohol Funny Car, the Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown, and Top Fuel Harley, as well as Lucas Oil Sportsman action in Comp, Top Dragster, and Top Sportsman.