John Force wins NHRA's 900th Funny Car Event
New England Dragway in Epping NH is one of the throwback pieces of pavement that competitors and National Hot Rod Association fans look forward to each season on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. However, in the year following the global pandemic, many of NHRA’s lesser funded drivers skipped the long trek to the Northeast to save team resources. Nonetheless, when Friday’s qualifying round kicked off for competitors in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock, fans were thrilled to see crews scrambling to take full advantage of the atmospheric conditions on the legendary New Hampshire surface that made putting the power to the ground tricky proposition at best. This year with an enthusiastic crowd back in the stands at Epping, the best drivers and drag racing teams in the world did not disappoint.
Matt Hagan Goes for Four in a Row at New England Raceway
Like they do at all the tracks on the Camping World Drag Racing Series circuit, the CAPCO Contractors team of defending Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence and his father Billy Torrence showed up as the team to beat. The elder Torrence was the first to master the power to traction needed to go fast on Friday night and remained the Number One qualifier going into Sunday’s eliminations. Surprising, after three rounds of qualifying, it would be Mike Salinas (second) and Justin Ashley (third), with both drivers finishing ahead of the three-time world champion Steve Torrence. In Funny Car competition, Don Schumacher Racing’s Matt Hagan (pictured above), who was going for four in a row at New England Dragway, grabbed the Number One spot in qualifying over teammate Ron Capps and title competitor John Force. In Pro Stock on Saturday, Greg Anderson claimed his fifth Number One qualifier in six 2021 Pro Stock races. Mason McGaha’s 6.538 ET was good enough for second.
Billy Torrence Captures Top Fuel
Billy Torrence was the first Top Fuel driver to master the power to traction ration at New England Dragway on Friday and set an ET that nobody could touch over the two days of qualifying. With fans eager for a 330+ pass, Steve Torrence came the closest at 328.14 mph in the opening round of eliminations.
The elder Torrence used a one-thousandth of a second advantage off the tree to get by his good friend Antron Brown in the quarterfinals. In the final run of the day, Torrence again used a nano-second holeshot to defeat a quicker and faster Mike Salinas driving the Allen Johnson and Brian Husen-tuned Scrappers Top Fuel dragster.
John Force Wins 153rd Wally
All signs indicated the TascaParts.com NHRA New England Nationals (presented by Bandero Premium Tequila) was going to be a runaway win for Don Schumacher Racing. After all, Matt Hagan has been the fastest Funny Car driver on the planet lately. Tim Wilkerson posted a holeshot win (3.956 ET at 324.44 mph) to eliminate a faster Hagan (3.983 ET at 328.08 mph) in the quarterfinals.
On the other side of the ladder, John Force worked his way past JR Todd and Terry Haddock leaving John Force Racing a team affair for the final pairing. It was the seventh heads-to-head final for Robert Hight and John Force and the 55th pairing in Funny Car history. Papa John claimed the Wally in the NHRA's 900th Funny Car run as well as top speed in class at 329.18 mph.
Aaron Stanfield Wins Pro Stock
A third-generation drag racer, Aaron Stanfield had the bar set high at an early age and hasn’t disappointed anyone. So far in 2021, the 26 year old driver of the Janac Motorsports Camaro has the lowest average reaction time off the tree making him contender at the TascaParts.com NHRA New England Nationals.
Nonetheless, Number One qualifier Greg Anderson has been on a hot streak after landing sponsorship from Hendricks.com (Rick Hendricks of NASCAR fame). After both drivers survived close elimination rounds, Stanfield relied on his starting line skills and Elite power to eliminate a slightly faster KB-powered Greg Anderson Funny Car in Pro Stock.
Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals
The next race will be the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals on June 25th thru 27th at Norwalk, Ohio.