The Texas Motorplex’s weeklong Stampede of Speed — a series of social and racing events — heads to its climax with the start of NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Professional qualifying today for the Texas NHRA FallNationals, the fourth of seven events that make up the 2021 Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Today’s first two qualifying sessions mark the first time this season that the Pro teams will have two runs on the opening day and the first with four qualifying sessions overall instead of the usual three.
Special qualifying bonuses provided by Texas Motorplex and NHRA will reward the best runs of today’s second qualifying session with $15,000 bonuses in both Top Fuel and Funny Car, $2,500 for Pro Stock, and $1,500 in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Homestate hero Steve Torrence enters the event looking to build on his slim 36-point lead on Brittany Force, who is the odds-on favorite to claim the low qualifying bounty as she’s been the No. 1 qualifier at eight of the last nine events.
The Torrence family has dominated this event the last three seasons with Steve winning in 2018 and 2020 and his father, Billy, who sits in third place in points, taking home the symbolic cowboy hat winner bonus in 2019. Force is the last non-Torrence winner, capturing the crown in a pivotal event in 2017 after Steve Torrence crashed during eliminations and had to go to a backup car. Don’t think that one still doesn’t rankle his firesuit.
Matt Hagan enters the event as the Funny Car points leader with a 59-marker edge on Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps. Hagan has won this event three times in his career (2010, ’16, and ’19) and is coming in hot after a huge win two weekends ago in St. Louis.
Hagan’s margin is the second largest of a season in which the points lead has changed hands at the last eight events, but there's still less than three rounds worth of racing with a lot of competition still to take place.
Sixteen-time champ John Force lurks right behind them both with past Motorplex winner Cruz Pedregon and J.R. Todd also in the fray. Neither Capps nor Todd has ever tasted victory at the Texas supertrack.
Greg Anderson continues to lead the Pro Stock points ahead of Texas favorite Erica Enders, but the margin is just 17 points that could possibly get made up in qualifying alone, where a maximum of 20 points is available.
Anderson has enjoyed considerable success at the event with five wins, the most recent coming in 2019. Enders’ lone Motorplex win came back in her 2015 championship season.
Jerry Savoie is the two-time reigning event champ in Pro Stock Motorcycle, but the veteran Louisiana rider and former world champ has been absent from the tour since Hurricane Ida, and will be making his return to the tour at this event.
Steve Johnson, the longest-tenured rider in the class, continues to cling stubbornly to a small points lead of just 17 markers on Angelle Sampey. Johnson is gunning for a first season championship, and Sampey has her eyes on a fourth world championship.
Reigning world champ Matt Smith sits third, just 30 points behind Johnson, and four-time world champ Eddie Krawiec is just 39 back of the leader.
There have been five different winners at the last five events with Karen Stoffer, Smith, Krawiec, Johnson, and Sampey collecting victories.
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NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds, at 3 and 7 p.m. CT on Friday, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday at noon and 4 p.m. CT. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. CT on Sunday, Oct. 10
Television coverage on Fox Sports 1 starts with qualifying action from 10:30-11:30 p.m. ET on Friday following MLB ALDS coverage, and 3:30-4:30 p.m. on Sunday, leading directly into eliminations action on FS1 from 4:30-7:30.