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Texas NHRA FallNationals Sunday preview

Texas NHRA FallNationals race championships will be decided today at Texas Motorplex, the final day of the event. Here's a look at what may lay ahead.
10 Oct 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
Race coverage
Texas NHRA FallNationals

Texas NHRA FallNationals race championships will be decided today at Texas Motorplex, the final day of the event. The morning has dawned cool and cloudy, a far cry from the 90-degree temperatures under which most of qualifying was contested, which should thrown another monkey wrench into the tune-up plans of the teams.

Brittany Force locked down her ninth No. 1 qualifying spot in the last 1- events – she was No. 2 at the race where she wasn’t No. 1 – and confidence has to be sky-high in the Minster Energy camp.

All of those No. 1s haven’t translated into winner trophies lately, but she’s been in the final round of two of the last four events and clearly has the best car overall with David Grubnic handling the tuning chores.

Her final pass, a 3.756, exactly matched the e.t. of points leader Steve Torrence alongside her and she even got to the finish line first for extra bragging rights.

Mike Salinas, who was runner-up to Torrence two weeks ago in St. Louis, also looks to be a handful on race day with four runs between 3.680 and 3.729, making his Scrappers machine the most consistently quick entry in the field.

Thirteen Funny Car drivers qualified in the sub-four-second range, so it’s fair to say that a lot of upsets could be possible in the first round. Only one driver – Bob Tasca III – made three-second passes on all four qualifying rounds to gain the maximum amount of data possible, and Tasca already has gone on record as saying he needs to win this race to keep his title hopes alive. 

Low qualifier Hight said almost as much in his pre-race interview, saying that if can win all four rounds today he’ll feel like he’s truly back in the fight.

Outside of Tasca, Cruz Pedregon looked the next best over the four sessions, with three three-second passes and a 4.00.

Funny Car, as it has been all year, with be a donnybrook.

The championship battle between Greg Anderson and Erica Enders will rage into Sunday after the duo – Pro Stock’s racing two most-winningest active drivers – traded blows in qualifying. Anderson finished No. 1 for the 10th time this year but Enders had two of the day’s three best runs.

Anderson is a five-time winner at this event, most recently in 2019, while Enders has a solo victory, in 2015.

Anderson’s KB Racing teammate, rookie sensation Dallas Glenn, qualified No. 2 between the duo but, like Anderson Saturday, didn’t make it down the track on one of his two passes.

Anderson will face off against Marty Robinson in the opening stanza. For the fourth time this season, father and son, Chris and Mason McGaha, will face off; Mason is unbeaten against his dad in the first three meetings.

Steve Johnson continued to have the hot hand in Pro Stock Motorcycle, qualifying No. 1 with the best run in three of the four qualifying sessions. The only session where he did not lead the performance parade with Q2, the night session, held under conditions not likely to be seen today,

Matt Smith, whose Denso EBR has been steadily over 200 mph throughout qualifying and set a new track speed record of 202.55, figures to be Johnson’s biggest threat as he continues to try to defend his 2020 world championship.

Johnson will face Jianna Salinas in round one while Smith will take on Michael Ray.

Three-time world champ Angelle Sampey, who is trying to stop Johnson from winning his first world title, sits third aboard the Vance & Hines Suzuki with a 6.809.

Rounding out the top eight are Hector Arana Jr. (6.822), Jerry Savoie (6.839), Eddie Krawiec (6.878), Chris Bostick (6.878), and Karen Stoffer (6.885).

Savoie, making his first start since Hurricane Ida hit his Louisiana homestate, was solidly in the low 6.80s Saturday and is the two-time defending event champ.

Jianna Salinas held down the final spot in the field with a 6.949; perennial field-qualifier Ryan Oehler finished just outside in the No. 17 spot with a 6.962.

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 11 a.m.

Television coverage on Fox Sports 1 continues with qualifying highlights at 3:30-4:30 p.m. on Sunday, leading directly into eliminations action on FS1 from 4:30-7:30.