2022 NHRA LUCAS OIL NATIONALS - BRAINERD RESULTS
SUNDAY - S. TORRENCE AND TASCA III RACE TO WINS AT LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS
Four-time defending Top Fuel world champion Steve Torrence drove to his first victory of the season, defending his event win at Brainerd International Raceway on Sunday at the 40th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
Funny Car’s Bob Tasca III also won at the 15th of 22 races during the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season in front of another big crowd in Brainerd.
Facing off with eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher in the final round, Torrence picked up his 52nd career victory – but first since last November at the Auto Club NHRA Finals – with a run of 3.866-seconds at 322.04 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster. He improved to 5-0 against Schumacher in eliminations this year, also picking up his first win in four final round appearances in 2022.
On a challenging day, Torrence took out a host of standouts, including Mike Salinas, Topeka winner Antron Brown and points leader Brittany Force before facing off with Schumacher. Torrence had to be on his game against Brown and Force, pedaling his dragster in both rounds to advance and ultimately pick up a much-needed and rewarding victory as he prepares to begin the hunt for a fifth straight world title.
“When you’ve had the success and the dominance we’ve had, it’s difficult to not have that. You just have to grit it and dig through it,” Torrence said. “(But) these Capco boys, they’re bad to the bone. We’ve shown it time and time again. We didn’t forget how to win but, dang, it sure felt like it. I have all the confidence and the faith in the world in this team because that car is always bad to the bone. Maybe we’re getting our stuff together at the right time because we’re charging for that (fifth world title).
“A day like today is one you’re most proud of a driver. On days like today when the car doesn’t do quite what it’s supposed to do, you have to earn your keep as a driver. It’s wins like this you’ll always cherish and remember as a driver.”
Schumacher advanced to his second final in the past three races and the 156th in his standout career thanks to round wins against Doug Kalitta, Josh Hart, and Justin Ashley. Brittany Force maintained the points lead in the class and it now stands at 94 points over Salinas. Torrence moved up to third in Top Fuel points with the win.
Funny Car’s Tasca continued his incredible run this summer, winning his second straight race and third in the past four events. He was the only driver in both nitro categories to make clean runs on every pass Sunday, finishing it off with a stellar pass of 3.945 at 329.42 in his 11,000-horsepower Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang against defending world champ Ron Capps in the final round. While most teams struggled during the second and third rounds, Tasca only seemed to get better, making four three-second runs during eliminations to knock off Dale Creasy Jr., Chad Green, and points leader Robert Hight to reach the final round.
Tasca, who has now advanced to the final round in five of the past six races, followed with another great performance against Capps to win for the first time in Brainerd. With the Countdown to the Championship approaching, Tasca and his team appear to be peaking at the perfect time.
“I’ve said this many times but what we’ve done lately has been amazing,” Tasca said. “We’ve not backed into any win and performed at a high level throughout. This is incredible execution by the team, and I mean every single person. This team has performed flawlessly. The package we have is unlike anything I’ve ever had in my driving career. (My team) always has an answer and when that happens, as a driver you just have to go out and do your job.
“All weekend, I was fighting the car down the track. It was spinning and moving around. If you let it get out of the groove, it will spin the tires. Keeping it in the center of the groove is critical, especially today. I’m so proud of what we’ve done. We have a lot of unfinished business ahead of us and we’re all chasing the same trophy at the end of the year.”
Capps reached his 135th career final round by getting wins against longtime rival John Force, Bobby Bode, and Alexis DeJoria, staying third in points. Hight kept a comfortable points lead over Matt Hagan, while Tasca moved up to fourth in points with one race left in the regular season.
The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to action with the prestigious Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals on Aug. 31-Sept. 5 at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.
SATURDAY - HAGAN AND B. FORCE SECURE NO. 1 POSITIONS AT BRAINERD
Matt Hagan powered to the top in Funny Car qualifying in the final pairing on Saturday at Brainerd International Raceway, securing the No. 1 position for Tony Stewart Racing at the 40th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
Top Fuel points leader Brittany Force also qualified No. 1 at the 15th of 22 races during the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
Paired with points leader and provisional No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight in the final qualifying session, Hagan delivered a massive pass of 3.843-seconds at 331.36 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Mopar 85th Anniversary Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, picking up his fifth No. 1 qualifier of the season and 48th in his career. Hagan had identical runs of 3.893 in the second and third qualifying sessions, but his team, led by crew chief Dickie Venables, stepped up in a major way to close out the day. That gives Hagan, the defending event winner in Brainerd, plenty of momentum heading into raceday as the team appears to have found its footing after some struggles earlier this summer.
“It’s impressive to do that, especially with the sun shining,” said Hagan, who has three wins in 2022. “That’s a testament to this track and the NHRA prep. I just think of what we might have been able to run if the cloud cover had stayed out. We’re in a great spot tomorrow. We need to make sure we stay No. 2 (in points) and make sure we start the Countdown to the Championship in a great position. The track is tight, and you can apply the power. These are the conditions that Dickie loves. I was happy when we ran two 3.89s in a row but Dickie wasn’t. He went for it and it stuck.”
Hight put together an outstanding pass as well, going 3.861 at 331.94 to qualify second. That gave the points leader three stellar runs during qualifying as he aims to pick up his seventh victory this season. Bob Tasca III nearly qualified No. 1 for the third straight race, going 3.862 at 333.74 in the pair before Hagan and Hight matched up on Saturday. He qualified third, looking for his third win in four races. Ron Capps, the defending world champ, took fourth with his 3.885 at 328.46 as he looks for his seventh victory at Brainerd. Cruz Pedregon jumped to fifth in the final session thanks to his 3.888 at 326.16.
Force turned in another outstanding day of qualifying in Top Fuel, securing her sixth No. 1 spot this season and 38th in her career with a run of 3.661 at 334.65 in her 11,000-horsepower Monster Energy dragster. That run came during the first session on Saturday as the Top Fuel points leader built on Friday’s run, nearly breaking her track speed record in the process. She made a series of strong passes during qualifying as well, putting her in a good position as she looks for her fifth victory of the season and second at Brainerd.
“This team has had some killer runs and we’ve been very consistent,” Force said. “That last (qualifying) run, we were trying to push a little bit more. Overall, though, we kept that No. 1 and put some solid passes on the track. We love being able to have four qualifying sessions. It gives us a chance to learn as much as possible about the track. We had three really good passes and collected some points and got ourselves to the top spot. I’m feeling good going into tomorrow with this new car as well. We like it so far.”
Josh Hart vaulted to the second position on Saturday, going 3.668 at 332.34, which are career-best numbers in both categories. Hart is seeking his first victory of the season. Justin Ashley also improved with a massive run on Saturday, going 3.679 at 334.82 during the final qualifying session, just missing out on the track speed record. Defending event winner Steve Torrence picked up in his final run of the day as well, going 3.694 at 331.45 to slot the four-time defending world champ fourth. Topeka winner Antron Brown rounded out the top five with a run of 3.701 at 329.83, which is his quickest pass of the 2022 season.
Eliminations for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals begin at 11 a.m. CT at Brainerd International Raceway.
Sunday's first-round pairings for eliminations for the 40th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, the 15th of 22 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.
Top Fuel -- 1. Brittany Force, 3.661 seconds, 334.65 mph vs. Bye; 2. Josh Hart, 3.668, 332.34 vs. 15. Scott Farley, broke; 3. Justin Ashley, 3.679, 334.82 vs. 14. Krista Baldwin, 3.884, 313.07; 4. Steve Torrence, 3.694, 331.45 vs. 13. Mike Salinas, 3.765, 318.69; 5. Antron Brown, 3.701, 329.83 vs. 12. Clay Millican, 3.739, 323.27; 6. Leah Pruett, 3.702, 330.47 vs. 11. Shawn Langdon, 3.737, 323.58; 7. Tony Schumacher, 3.716, 325.92 vs. 10. Doug Kalitta, 3.732, 329.83; 8. Austin Prock, 3.720, 331.69 vs. 9. Billy Torrence, 3.726, 323.74.
Funny Car -- 1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.843, 331.36 vs. Bye; 2. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.861, 331.94 vs. 15. Steven Densham, Ford Mustang, 11.397, 79.09; 3. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.862, 333.74 vs. 14. Dale Creasy Jr., Charger, 5.740, 121.99; 4. Ron Capps, Toyota Supra, 3.885, 328.46 vs. 13. John Force, Camaro, 4.121, 242.98; 5. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.888, 326.16 vs. 12. Bobby Bode, Mustang, 4.119, 240.77; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.896, 331.61 vs. 11. Chad Green, Mustang, 3.988, 308.50; 7. J.R. Todd, Supra, 3.897, 332.43 vs. 10. Jim Campbell, Charger, 3.974, 317.27; 8. Alexis DeJoria, Supra, 3.916, 315.78 vs. 9. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.920, 319.37.
FRIDAY - B. FORCE AND HIGHT RACE TO PROVISIONAL NO. 1 SPOTS AT LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS
It was a memorable qualifying day for John Force Racing on Friday at Brainerd International Raceway as Top Fuel’s Brittany Force and Funny Car’s Robert Hight raced to the provisional No. 1 positions at the 40th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
Force, the current Top Fuel points leader, powered to the top with her run of 3.685-seconds at 333.49 mph in her 11,000-horsepower Monster Energy dragster at the 15th of 22 races during the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season. If that holds, Force, a four-time winner in 2022, would pick up her sixth No. 1 qualifier this season and the 38th in her career. After struggling during the first qualifying session, Force and her team delivered an impressive run with the sun starting to set. That came after a 90-minute weather delay as Force, who won at Brainerd in 2016, enjoyed a strong run at the ideal time.
“We were very happy with that second run, especially after not making it down there in the first one,” Force said. “When the rain came, we got a little nervous about getting in a second session tonight, (but) NHRA got it cleaned up quickly, and (crew chief David) Grubnic came in and said it was a great racetrack. I love night racing. There’s nothing cooler than watching drag racing at night. Seeing the header flames, it was my favorite thing as a kid in the grandstands. We saw what was capable ahead of us and we knew we could get it done, and we ran exactly what we wanted. I love this racetrack, we always lay down good numbers and we’ve had success here before so we’re hoping to get it done again.”
Justin Ashley, who has a pair of wins this season, took his dragster into the 3.60s as well, moving to the second spot with his pass of 3.691 at 328.94. Denver winner Leah Pruett took the third position with a solid pass of 3.702 at 330.47. Pruett is also a two-time at Brainerd.
Hight jumped to the top during the final qualifying session on Friday in Funny Car, delivering a remarkable 3.865 at 330.31 in his 11,000-horsepower Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS. If that holds, the Funny Car points leader would earn his fourth No. 1 spot this season and 75th in his career. Already a six-time winner during what’s been an incredible 2022 season, the next goal on Hight’s list is trying to pick up his 60th career win. After Friday’s performance to open the race weekend, Hight is hopeful that comes in Brainerd, where he has one career victory. With ideal weather conditions for the rest of the weekend, Hight knows he’ll have to be on top of his game to do so.
“First off, NHRA did an amazing job drying the track and giving us great conditions to make some great runs,” Hight said. “This is a breath of fresh air after where we’ve been with the humidity and heat. This is great conditions, and it looks like we’re going to have it all weekend, so the fans are in for a treat. There are going to be a lot of side-by-side close races. This Auto Club Chevy, we made two runs in the 3.80s today (and) you have to be happy about that. Great job to my guys. Two consistent runs, this is exactly what we need to be doing this time of year, making consistent runs, because we’re heading into crunch time. I’m excited where we’re at for this point in the season.”
Bob Tasca III, who won last weekend in Topeka, got bumped from the top position but remains in second with his pass of 3.881 at 331.45. Tasca is after his third straight No. 1 qualifier and his third victory in the past four races this weekend. He was also the top qualifier last year in Brainerd. Defending world champ Ron Capps, who is a six-time winner at the facility, is currently third thanks to his run of 3.885 at 328.46.
Qualifying continues at 1:30 p.m. CT on Saturday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
Friday's results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 40th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, 15th of 22 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday's final eliminations.
Top Fuel -- 1. Brittany Force, 3.685 seconds, 333.49 mph; 2. Justin Ashley, 3.691, 328.94; 3. Leah Pruett, 3.702, 330.47; 4. Tony Schumacher, 3.716, 325.92; 5. Billy Torrence, 3.726, 323.74; 6. Antron Brown, 3.742, 315.93; 7. Josh Hart, 3.746, 327.90; 8. Doug Kalitta, 3.747, 323.50; 9. Steve Torrence, 3.752, 323.97; 10. Austin Prock, 3.752, 323.35; 11. Mike Salinas, 3.765, 318.69; 12. Shawn Langdon, 3.782, 321.04; 13. Clay Millican, 3.836, 322.88; 14. Krista Baldwin, 4.056, 303.03; 15. Scott Farley, broke.
Funny Car -- 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.865, 330.31; 2. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.881, 331.45; 3. Ron Capps, Toyota Supra, 3.885, 328.46; 4. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.893, 327.74; 5. J.R. Todd, Supra, 3.899, 333.91; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.906, 326.24; 7. Alexis DeJoria, Supra, 3.916, 315.78; 8. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.936, 326.79; 9. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.970, 320.66; 10. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.012, 303.23; 11. John Force, Camaro, 4.121, 242.98; 12. Dale Creasy Jr., Charger, 5.740, 121.99; 13. Chad Green, Mustang, 11.447, 31.31.
Not Qualified: 14. Steven Densham, broke.