Can Steve Torrence win his first race of the season? Can Ron Capps keep his momentum going? What about rookie Camrie Caruso, can she become NHRA’s next first-time winner? And then there is the Pro Stock Motorcycle class. Can anyone catch runaway leader Karen Stoffer?
These, and many more questions will be answered today as final eliminations kick off at the NHRA SpringNationals. This is scheduled to be the final Camping World NHRA Series event at Houston Raceway Park and it is shaping up to be an historic happening.
Torrence, the reigning and four-time world champion, could rightfully be accused of a crime after he stole the pole position from Brittany Force during Saturday’s final qualifying session. In the afternoon heat, the Capco driver blasted to a 3.693, a mere two-thousandths quicker than Force’s 3.695 run from Friday night.
Torrence has the quickest car, but not by much. Mike Salinas ran a 3.722 and he’s nine spots behind Torrence, a stunning indicator of the parity that currently exists in NHRA nitro racing. Force’s reward for qualifying No. 2 is a race against Josh Hart while No. 3 qualifier Doug Kalitta has a tough draw against Billy Torrence.
With a win in Las Vegas and the top qualifying spot in Houston, reigning Funny Car champ Capps is rolling. The NAPA driver ran 3.864 and his reward is a bye run in the short field. The rest of the Funny Car drivers have their hands full with several marquee match-ups including Matt Hagan vs. John Force and Bob Tasca III vs. J.R. Todd.
The Pro Stock field is led by first-year phenom Camrie Caruso following her 6.547 best on Friday but as usual, almost any driver in the field is going to have a shot at the Wally since all 16 drivers are separated by less than seven hundredths of a second and there is a scant .024-second between Caruso and No. 8 qualifier Mason McGaha.
No. 2 qualifier Erica Enders is scheduled to face Cristian Cuadra in a rematch of the Las Vegas final while Dallas Glenn is also paired with Matt Hartford in another intriguing match-up featuring two racers who are more than capable of winning.
Following her record-setting win in Gainesville, Stoffer is the performance leader again in Houston with a track record 6.738 aboard her Big St. Charles/Skillman Auto Suzuki. Stoffer landed in the top spot following a spirited battle against Steve Johnson, who was a close second with a 6.739.
The top 11 bikes ran in the 6.7s or 6.8s which also sets the stage for some possible upsets. At least one former world champ is going to go home early as Louisiana neighbors Angelle Sampey and Jerry Savoie meet in round one.
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.
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
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
6.738 seconds by Karen Stoffer, April 2022; 201.37 mph by Matt Smith, April 2022
Final eliminations are scheduled for 11:30 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)