This weekend marks the 10-year anniversary of the first NHRA New England Nationals, and the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to Epping for a celebration highlighted by thunderous Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars. The staging lanes at New England Dragway will soon be stocked with nitro-burning beasts ready to run for trophies at the treasured racetrack in the Northeast.
The inaugural event in 2013 hosted final rounds in which Spencer Massey defeated Shawn Langdon in Top Fuel and Courtney Force defeated her father, John, in Funny Car. Since that time, there have been six more Top Fuel event champions, yet only three additional winners in Funny Car. That's because Matt Hagan, the defending event champion, has ruled the school in the Northeast and earned four wins total – including three in a row from 2017-2019.
Those looking to gain ground on incoming points leader Hagan and his Dodge SRT Hellcat include Scag Power Equipment-backed Tim Wilkerson, who won the most recent event on the tour in Chicago. Reigning world champion Ron Capps, currently No. 2 in the Funny Car standings with his NAPA Toyota, was on a hot streak in Chicago and will be aiming to build on his performance in the Windy City that included a win in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge and a runner-up to Wilkerson in the main event.
New England's own Bob Tasca III, though, has yet to win a Wally at his home track, and it would be fair to expect that he's fired up to get it done. So far this season, he's shown that he and his team can rise at any time; he's earned two starts from the No. 1 position in his Motorcraft Quick Lane Ford Mustang and reached the semifinals at the NHRA Winternationals.
After qualifying No. 1 in Chicago, Mike Salinas bowed out early on race day, and he'll be zeroed in on a better outcome on Sunday at New England Dragway with his Team Scrappers machine. Like Hagan in Funny Car, he's aiming to defend the Top Fuel title earned at the facility in 2022, and he'll most certainly have a string of worthy competitors standing in his way.
At the most recent event, Clay Millican earned an emotional win on his 25th anniversary as an NHRA competitor, right where he made his Top Fuel debut. Millican and his Rick Ware Racing team had not won a round of racing in 2023 until Chicago, and they will likely be strenuously working to arrange their fresh triumph as kindling and stay hot.
Tony Schumacher and Steve Torrence have each proven that they know how to win in New England – they've both earned two trophies there. Schumacher is one to watch: His team tested their Scag Power Equipment dragster assertively and, they believe, effectively, ahead of the New England Nationals. They're eager to see if what they found can act as a turning point for a tough season that has included five first-round losses in six events. Incoming points leader Steve Torrence is perhaps hungriest of all, however, as he exited in the first round in Chicago. He has twice reached the final in 2023 and come up empty-handed, and after such a sting at Route 66 Raceway, he could surely use the balm of a good weekend in Epping.
2022 EVENT WINNERS
Mike Salinas, Top Fuel; Matt Hagan, Funny Car
Tony Schumacher, 2, TF, Steve Torrence, 2, TF; Matt Hagan, 4, FC
Top Fuel - 3.664 seconds by Steve Torrence, June '22; 334.90 mph by Brittany Force, June '22
Funny Car - 3.822 seconds by Robert Hight, June '17; 336.74 mph by Hight, June '17
Top Fuel - 3.623 sec. by Brittany Force, Sept. '19, Reading, Pa.; 338.94 mph by Brittany Force, Nov. ‘22, Pomona
Funny Car - 3.793 sec. by Robert Hight, Aug. '17, Brainerd; 339.87 mph by Robert Hight, July ’17, Sonoma
FRIDAY, June 2
NHRA Lucas Oil Series Drag Racing Series qualifying at 9:15 a.m.
FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series qualifying at 5:15 p.m.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying at 6 p.m.
SATURDAY, June 3
NHRA Lucas Oil Series Drag Racing Series eliminations at 9:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series qualifying at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, June 4
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
FRIDAY, June 2, FS1 will televise one and a half hours of qualifying coverage at 7:30 p.m. ET
SATURDAY, June 3, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 9 p.m. ET
SUNDAY, June 4, FS1 will televise one and a half hours of finals coverage at 12:30 p.m. ET
SUNDAY, June 4, FS1 will televise two hours of finals coverage at 7 p.m. ET
Or watch all day on NHRA.tv