If Friday’s lone professional qualifying session taught us anything, it’s that the fields for the final NHRA SprinNationals in Houston will be among the most competitive of the season. Two more session are on tap today, as well as more qualifying and eliminations for Lucas Oil Series sportsman competitors, which means the fields will only get quicker and tighter.
Already, 11 of the 18 Top Fuel dragsters in Houston have run 3.7s or quicker, including Brittany Force, who took the provisional pole with a 3.695 in her Monster Energy dragster. Force also ran 333.58 mph, bettering her own 332.18 track speed record from 2019. Force is quick, but she hardly has a lock on the top spot with Justin Ashley close behind at 3.697.
It currently takes a 3.722 to make the quick half of the Top Fuel show and a couple of drivers who are not currently in that range are Billy Torrence and Josh Hart, who both failed to make a clean run Friday night.
There are plenty of familiar names at the top of the Funny Car chart including red hot Ron Capps, who followed his recent win in Las Vegas with a sizzling 3.864 to lead the way. Capps’ edge over the rect of the field is also slim with Robert Hight just a thousandth of a second behind with a 3.865 in his AAA Teas Camaro. Cruz Pedregon also made headway with his Snap-on Dodge thanks to a 3.881 that’s good for the No. 3 spot so far.
Bob Tasca III and Tim Wilkerson also found the 3.8s on Friday while Blake Alexander continued his recent string of strong performances with a 3.911.
John Force, who has enjoyed tremendous success in Houston including his landmark 100th win, is one of the few Funny Car drivers who did not get down the racetrack on Friday, so he’s worth watching as he now pursues win No. 155.
Pro Stock fields are typically close, but the Houston field is already bordering on epic. Rookie Camrie Caruso made a surprising run at the pole with a 6.547 but she’s just .024-second ahead of No. 8 qualifier Mason McGaha and the entire 16-car field features a spread of just .068-second.
Las Vegas winner Erica Enders heads into Saturday as the No. 2 qualifier with a 6.553 and current points leader Aaron Stanfield is third after a 6.555 opening shot.
After a lengthy break, the Pro Stock Motorcycle class hit the track again for their second race of the season and to no one’s surprise, Gainesville winner Karen Stoffer once again is the leader. Stoffer paced the field with a 6.776 on her Big St. Charles/Skillman Auto Suzuki.
Angie Smith, who finished second to Stoffer in Gainesville, is also No. 2 at this event after a 6.798 on her Denso Buell while Steve Johnson picked up a qualifying bonus point with a third-best 6.804.
There are currently ten riders in the sixes but Angelle Sampey is not one of them. The three-time world champ shut off early to a 9-second elapsed time and will look to make a dramatic improvement today on her Vance & Hines/Mission Foods Suzuki.
You can catch the action all weekend on FOX Sports 1 and NHRA.tv.
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2021 EVENT WINNERS
Steve Torrence, Top Fuel; Robert Hight, Funny Car; Matt Hartford, Pro Stock. (Pro Stock Motorcycle not contested).
3.661 seconds by Brittany Force, April 2019; 333.58 mph by Brittany Force, April, 2022
3.851 seconds by Courtney Force, April 2017; 333.49 mph by J.R. Todd, Oct. 2020.
6.492 seconds by Greg Anderson, April 2018; 213.37 mph by Erica Enders, April 2013
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, April 23 at 1 and 4:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 24.
SUNDAY April 24, FS1 will televise 90 minutes of qualifying highlights at 10:30 p.m. (ET)
SUNDAY, April 24, FS1 will televise 3 hours of finals coverage at 7:30 p.m. (ET)