Torrence and Hagan Back on Top at Lucas Oil Nationals
The best of the best in the National Hot Rod Association’s nitro classes arrived at the twelfth stop of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series in Brainerd, MN, with one thing in mind; claim as many points as possible before the Countdown to the Championship begins. The 39th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway is the penultimate race of the regular season, and a solid performance is crucial for drivers and teams trying to win a world championship. In addition, it was the first Brainerd appearance for the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service and the 800+ cubic inch Mountain Motor Pro Stock class. Best of all, after the Brainerd event was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, racing fans were finally able to return to the onsite campground known as the “Zoo” for some ground-pounding, lightning fast, mind-blowing drag racing action.
Steve Torrence Completes Sweep of NHRA Tracks
Points leader and three-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion claimed his seventh Wally of the 2021 Camping World Drag Racing Series at the Lucas Oil Nationals and completed his sweep having won at every NHRA Tour racetrack. Fresh off her win at Topeka, Brittany Force claimed Number One qualifier with a top speed of 334.98 mph and eliminated Antron Brown before losing to Clay Millican in the semifinal round. Millican took out Doug Kalitta, Mike Salinas, and B. Force enroute to a final round showdown with Torrence.
The defending Top Fuel champion had a bye in the semifinal after having eliminated Terry Totten and Justin Ashley in early elimination rounds. Torrence drove to his 47th Wally with a 3.712-second run at 323.74 mph to Millican’s 3.729 ET at 320.05 mph. Both drivers had near identical reaction times off the start, but the 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster had just enough at the finish line for a narrow victory. Only two NHRA competitors, John Force and Ron Capps, had ever won a Nitro National at every NHRA Camping World tour track.
Hagan Takes Points Lead with Funny Car Win
Coming off last year’s championship run in Nitro Funny Car, Matt Hagan had watched the 2021 points lead change hands on a weekly basis for most of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, and Hagan is on of those drivers who expects to win every time he arrives at the racetrack. Nonetheless, Bob Tasca III, who won the Funny Car event early in the year at the four-wide nationals held at The Strip in Las Vegas, carded a 331.69 mph pass as the Number One qualifier at Brainerd International Raceway.
A faster Tasca would lose in a semifinal round at Brainerd to a quicker Matt Hagan with 3.932 ET to Tasca’s 3.940. Cruz Pedregon with .075 reaction time, 3.908 ET at 325.45 mph narrowly defeated Ron Capps with .076 RT, 3.935 elapsed time with an identical speed of 325.45 mph. Pedregon also eliminated JR Todd in the semifinals to advance. Hagan claimed his second win of the season and 38th of his career with a 3.932-second final pass that was a tick better than Pedregon’s 3.935-second elapsed time.
Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals
The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to action Sept. 1-5 for the prestigious 67th annual Dodge//SRT U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.