NHRA - National Hot Rod Association


Steve Torrence, Brittany Force to battle for Top Fuel championship at Finals

Three-time and reigning Top Fuel world champ Steve Torrence will enter the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals with a commanding 105-point lead over 2017 champ Brittany Force. Here's a look at the scenarios for how each can win the title.
04 Nov 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
Steve Torrence

Three-time and reigning NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Top Fuel world champ Steve Torrence will enter the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals with a commanding 105-point lead over 2017 champ Brittany Force. Mike Salinas (-172 points) is also mathematically in the race for what would be his first championship.

A total of 187 points is available for any Camping World Series competitor at the event. Before we start, let’s remind you of how  those points can be accrued:


Winner150 Runner-up120
Semifinal loser90 Second-round loser60
First-round loser30 Make one qualifying run15

Performance bonus points are awarded for each of the three qualifying sessions as follows:

Low e.t. of each session4 Second-quickest3
Third-quickest2 Fourth-quickest1

Performance bonus points WILL NOT be awarded for any session unable to be completed.

Qualifying positions earn points as follows:

1st10 2nd9
3rd8 4th7
5th & 6th6 7th & 8th5
9th through 12th4 13th through 16th3


OK, let’s pick the low-hanging fruit first. Although 187 total points are still available at the Finals under the special points-and-a-half bonus system, all three will claim 15 of the 187 points just by making a qualifying run.

The only way Salinas can win the championship is the highly unlikely possibilities that a) Torrence either forgets the way from Kilgore, Texas to Pomona or b) is otherwise unable to attend or c) shows up and doesn’t qualify. If the latter should happen, Salinas would need to qualify No. 1, have low e.t. of all three qualifying sessions, and win the event.

Even then, Salinas would still have to earn 67 more points (three rounds further or two rounds plus seven more points qualifying in qualifying) than Force to win the championship, so Salinas doesn’t stand much of a chance.

Force is down but far from out of it. She and her David Grubnic-led Monster Energy team will have to work hard in qualifying and earn at least 16 more points in qualifying than Torrence to get his lead down to least 89 points, or less than three rounds. That may be her easiest task at the event as she has been the low qualifier at 12 or 19 events this year and has earned lots of session bonus points, including all nine possible in Las Vegas. Over the course of the season, she has outpointed Torrence 84-69 in session bonus points.

At best, she could earn 22 points in qualifying (low of all three sessions and low of qualifying), meaning that Torrence concurrently would have to earn only six points in qualifying, which means, at best, qualifying fifth or lower -- something he’s only done once this season (No. 5 at the fall Charlotte event) -- and no session bonus points.

If she can accomplish that, here’s what would need to happen for her to win the championship:
If Torrence/then Force
1st. round loss/Runner-up
2nd round loss/Win event

If she’s unable to crack that code in qualifying, she’ll need to have Torrence lose in the first round, then win the race, which would earn her the championship by as little as one point.

The fine print:
All of this happens under the specter of possible centerline violations that would cost either 5 points for crossing the centerline after the finish line and before the 1,320 mark (and going up in five-point increments to a max of 15).

Because the chance of a tie always exists, here are the three tiebreakers, in order of application:
1.    Head to head record in Countdown: Force currently leads 1-0.
(Technically, it shouldn't go beyond this because a Torrence win over Force would end her chances anyway)
2.    Rounds won in the Countdown: For what it's worth, Torrence currently leads 18-12
3.    Quickest average qualifying e.t. in Countdown qualifying: My head hurts. Let's hope it doesn't come down to this.

If Torrence wins the championship, he will be just the eighth driver to win four or more consecutive championships. The only pro drivers to have won four or more successive titles are Don Prudhomme, Kenny Bernstein, Lee Shepherd, Bob Glidden,  Joe Amato, Tony Schumacher, and John Force.  Schumacher was the last to achieve the standard when he won six straight titles from 2004 through 2009.

“We’re not gonna do anything different. We’re just gonna go out there and try to win the race." -- Steve Torrence

"We aren’t out of it. We've  still got a shot and we will chase it down the best that we can.” -- Brittany Force

Force needs to reach at least the final to have a chance to win the championship