2023 NHRA NEW ENGLAND NATIONALS - EVENT RESULTS
FINAL - TASCA AND ASHLEY PICK UP WINS AT NHRA NEW ENGLAND NATIONALS IN BRISTOL
Bob Tasca III powered to his first win of the season on Saturday at Bristol Dragway, knocking off legendary Funny Car driver John Force in the final round of the NHRA New England Nationals, which was completed as part of a doubleheader weekend in Bristol.
Top Fuel’s Justin Ashley also claimed the victory at the seventh of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season. The winning runs from Tasca and Ashley also gave each driver a victory in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge bonus race.
Due to weather, eliminations from the Epping, N.H. race were postponed to this weekend as part of the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, with Tasca earning the victory at what is considered his home race. In the championship round against Force, Tasca went 4.032-seconds at 322.96 mph in his 11,000-horsepower PPG Ford Mustang. It is Tasca’s first victory of the season and 13th of his career.
Tasca knocked off Ron Capps in the opening round of eliminations, which took place on Friday in Thunder Valley, and then recorded three round wins on Saturday, including victories over Robert Hight and No. 1 qualifier Chad Green to reach the final round. Tasca, who knocked off Force in a final round at Sonoma last year, quickly chased down the 16-time world champion, picking up the win and the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge victory in the process. But to win his home race – even if it came in Bristol – meant a great deal to Tasca
“I would have gone to Alaska to get this trophy. It's a win that I've always dreamed about winning at a racetrack I grew up at,” Tasca said. “It's the first track I ever went down. But we just felt like this whole season was building for us. I’m just so impressed with Todd Okuhara, Aaron Brooks, and the team.
“I went up to Force before I got in the car and I said, ‘Force, I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you.’ To race John Force in the finals, at his age to do what he does out here, it'll never be done by anybody. I have so much respect for John. There's no one I get up for like that. If I have to win a race in the final round and have John Force alongside me for the New England Nationals trophy, it's going to be a long time before I forget that win.”
Force reached the finals for the first time this season and 265th thanks to round wins against Tim Wilkerson, Alex Laughlin and J.R. Todd.
Top Fuel’s Ashley enjoyed a terrific day on Saturday in Bristol, racing to his third victory this season and third win in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge as well, knocking off Tony Schumacher on a holeshot in a thrilling final round. Ashley went 3.846 at 324.12 in his 11,000-horsepower Phillips Connect/Toyota dragster to hold off Schumacher’s 3.835 at 323.65 on the strength of a .041 reaction time.
It’s also Ashley’s eighth career win and gives him another memorable moment in Thunder Valley after he won the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals a year ago. He doubled up on Saturday, going through an impressive array of challengers that included reigning world champion Brittany Force, four-time world champ Steve Torrence and eight-time champion Schumacher. He’s the only multi-time winner in Top Fuel this season and in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, and Ashley will have a chance for a clean sweep of the weekend on Sunday.
“This is so special. Every race is special, when you know you go into the weekend having an opportunity to win, but coming here and knowing we have three opportunities to win and then taking care of two of them already just makes it so significant,” Ashley said. “It's just a testament to the group we have. We have our work cut out for us tomorrow, but for tonight, we're going to enjoy this one.
“It comes down to the work we put in during the off-season. We knew the competition was going to step up. The guys did what they needed to do, found ways to improve, ways to get better. That consistency was really the result of the work that was put in the off-season.”
Schumacher advanced to his first final this season and 157th in his career thanks to victories over Shawn Langdon and Mike Salinas.
Eliminations for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals begin at 10 a.m. ET on Sunday at Bristol Dragway.
SUNDAY QUALIFYING: NHRA NEW ENGLAND NATIONALS WEATHER UPDATE
With continuing precipitation in the forecast, Sunday's activities at the 10th annual NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway have been postponed until Monday.
Gates will open at 8:00 a.m. ET with competition beginning at 11:00 a.m. with Top Fuel eliminations.
Today’s tickets will be honored on Monday. Walk up adult tickets will be $25 and kids 12 and under under will get in free.
For Sunday ticket holders who cannot attend tomorrow, the NHRA credit policy will be in effect.
SATURDAY QUALIFYING: MILESTONES ACHIEVED IN DAY TWO QUALIFYING AT RAIN-DAMPENED EPPING
Antron Brown powered to his first Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier in nearly six years on Saturday, claiming the top spot at the NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.
Funny Car’s Chad Green also qualified No. 1 at the seventh of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season. Saturday’s second qualifying session, as well as the finals of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, were canceled due to weather. No points were awarded in the challenge and the bonus prize money was divided among the participating competitors.
Sunday’s eliminations were also bumped up to a 10 a.m. ET start from New England Dragway.
With a near 40-degree temperature drop from Friday, Brown, a three-time world champion, made one of only two three-second runs during Saturday’s lone qualifying session with an impressive pass of 3.729-secomds at 329.99 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Matco Tools/Toyota dragster. It is Brown’s 50th career No. 1 qualifier, but first since 2017 in Seattle, where he also won the race.
Brown, who won earlier this year in Las Vegas, has impressed in varying conditions this weekend, making a run in the 3.80s during the heat on Friday, and following it up with another strong run in considerably cooler conditions on Saturday.
"It feels really good today. What made it feel so good is just how our team was so good to adapt to all the different conditions,” Brown said. “Today, we were able to bounce back and be one of the only cars that made it down because the track got super tight. I'm super proud of my guys. It makes me feel good to see where we're at the way we can adapt to so many different circumstances.
"Our main focus through this whole journey that we've been on is to constantly get better. We never really harped on qualifying. We've been just working on it steadily to get better and better and to pick up those bonus points. We made the right judgment calls and ended up No. 1. Do we want to qualifying No. 1 more? Heck yeah. But we have to keep working to know how we got there and not throw shots at it."
Shawn Langdon made the only other three-second run on Saturday, qualifying second with a run of 3.738 at 327.66. He’s looking for his first win of the 2023 campaign, as is Leah Pruett, whose 3.856 from 319.37 put her third heading into Sunday’s eliminations.
Clay Millican and Pruett advanced to the finals of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, with Millican collecting the biggest share of the bonus purse after making the quickest winning run in the first round of the bonus race.
In Funny Car, Green held onto the No. 1 spot on a tricky day, with his run of 4.100 at 310.98 from Friday in his 11,000-horsepower Bond-Coat, Inc. Ford Mustang holding up. It gave Green his first career No. 1 qualifier as he continues to enjoy a strong season in the Funny Car ranks.
After a string of semifinal appearances this season and now claiming his first career No. 1 qualifier, Green, who is currently sixth in points, will aim for his first career Funny Car victory on Sunday.
"It feels pretty great, it's pretty unexpected,” Green said. “When I woke up this morning, I never thought that our run yesterday would hold up for No. 1 today. I'm very proud of my crew, my team for navigating the track yesterday and be able to make that run to get us in this position. Tomorrow is going to be another day like today. We'll put our heads together and see what we come up with.
"I haven't had really No. 1 qualifier on my mind as much as I've had winning a race. There are some really tough teams out here, it's really tough to be No. 1. I'm definitely happy about it and proud of my guys."
Points leader and defending event winner Matt Hagan stayed second with his 4.123 at 309.13 from Friday as he looks for his NHRA-best fifth career win at New England Dragway. Alex Laughlin, in his first year in Funny Car, moved to third with a run of 4.190 at 289.63.
Ron Capps and Tim Wilkerson advanced to the finals of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, with Capps collecting the biggest share of the bonus purse after making the quickest winning run in the first round of the bonus race.
Eliminations for the NHRA New England Nationals are set to begin at 10 a.m. ET on Sunday at New England Dragway.
Sunday's first-round pairings for eliminations for the 10th annual NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway, the seventh of 21 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. Antron Brown, 3.729 seconds, 329.99 mph vs. Bye; 2. Shawn Langdon, 3.738, 327.66 vs. 13. Tony Schumacher, 9.359, 57.60; 3. Leah Pruett, 3.856, 319.37 vs. 12. Doug Kalitta, 6.711, 109.59; 4. Josh Hart, 3.902, 317.27 vs. 11. Brittany Force, 4.907, 149.88; 5. Dan Mercier, 4.024, 278.69 vs. 10. Justin Ashley, 4.807, 155.61; 6. Mike Salinas, 4.067, 229.39 vs. 9. Clay Millican, 4.497, 174.91; 7. Austin Prock, 4.075, 239.27 vs. 8. Steve Torrence, 4.191, 212.73.
Funny Car -- 1. Chad Green, Ford Mustang, 4.100, 310.98 vs. 14. Jim Campbell, Chevy Monte Carlo, 13.419, 72.42; 2. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.123, 309.13 vs. 13. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 12.865, 77.08; 3. Alex Laughlin, Charger, 4.190, 289.63 vs. 12. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 9.042, 86.15; 4. Ron Capps, Toyota Supra, 4.483, 199.88 vs. 11. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 8.546, 79.50; 5. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.624, 186.74 vs. 10. Alexis DeJoria, Supra, 6.816, 102.35; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.766, 170.88 vs. 9. John Force, Camaro, 6.623, 96.42; 7. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 5.403, 136.26 vs. 8. J.R. Todd, Supra, 6.374, 119.51.
FRIDAY QUALIFYING - PRUETT AND GREEN JUMP OUT TO EARLY LEADS AT NHRA NEW ENGLAND NATIONALS
Leah Pruett put together an impressive run in the heat on Friday at New England Dragway, rolling to the provisional No. 1 position in Top Fuel at the NHRA New England Nationals.
Funny Car’s Chad Green is also a provisional No. 1 qualifier at the seventh of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
Pruett went 3.856-seconds at 319.37 mph in her 11,000-horsepower Rush Truck Centers dragster for Tony Stewart Racing, making one of only a trio of three-second runs in the class on Friday. Pruett is after her first No. 1 qualifier this season and 14th of her career, as well as her first victory of 2023 and at New England Dragway.
The standout performance on Friday also puts Pruett in a good position for Saturday’s Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, where she will take on Josh Hart. It’s the third appearance in the bonus race for Pruett, who will try to pick up her first victory. The other matchup on Saturday features defending world champ Brittany Force and Chicago winner Clay Millican, with the two victors meeting up to close out Saturday qualifying in what is expected to be dramatically different conditions.
"That 3.85, as we all know, is not going to stay No. 1. That wouldn't have even qualified at our last race,” Pruett said. “This particular track and these conditions are basically getting everybody to maximize their adaptability, and that shows with us being No. 1. Our crew chiefs are currently in the system of learning the new program, and there is finding this middle ground, and going slower is actually a lot harder than going fast. We'll work on that tomorrow.
"Going down the track when you run a 3.85 compared to running, like, a 3.64, it's night and day. But I knew as soon as I got past a second-and-a-half, which is always going to be our trouble zone with our new system, I was like, alright, we're cruising. This track is smooth and we just cruised right on over it. Everything was pretty much flawless, and there is not a lot that we can take away from this run and use for tomorrow, but we'll go back to a lot of other races."
Running next to Pruett, Antron Brown posted a strong run as well, moving into the second spot with a run of 3.899 at 310.98. Brown posted a win earlier this season in Las Vegas and is after his second career victory at New England Dragway. Hart, who has advanced to three straight final rounds this year, was the only other driver to make a 3-second run on Friday, going 3.902 at 317.27, putting him in contention for his first career No. 1 qualifier as well.
Green made the best pass on a warm track on Friday in Funny Car, going 4.100 at 310.98 in his 11,000-horsepower Bond-Coat, Inc. Ford Mustang. If it holds, it would be Green’s first career No. 1 qualifier as he continues to enjoy a breakout season in 2023. Green is currently sixth in points and already has nine round wins this season, plus a victory in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge in Pomona.
He’ll have a chance for a second victory in the special bonus race on Saturday as well, as he will take on Ron Capps in a semifinal rematch from Chicago. The other matchup will feature Chicago winner Tim Wilkerson and John Force, and Green will be focused on having a big Saturday in Epping after his solid start to open qualifying.
“The run felt pretty good. It’s tricky track today, but we were one of the only cars to make it down, so we feel pretty good about that,” Green said. “Tomorrow, the weather situation is going to be totally different than it was today. We have the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge tomorrow, and we're really excited about that. I'd like to be the first Funny Car driver to win it twice.
“It would mean so much to have this No. 1 at the end of the day tomorrow, but what we really want to do now is get a win. We've gone rounds, made it to the semifinals a bunch of times, but we're ready to take that next step and get that Wally.”
Points leader Matt Hagan, who has won the last two races in Epping and has an NHRA-best four overall victories in Epping, is currently second with a run of 4.123 at 309.13. Capps, the back-to-back world champion in the category, took third with a 4.483 at 199.88. Capps was the runner-up in Chicago and is after his first win of the season following three trips to the final round.
Qualifying continues at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday at the NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.
Friday's results after the first one of three rounds of qualifying for the 10th annual NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway, seventh of 21 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday's final eliminations.
Top Fuel -- 1. Leah Pruett, 3.856 seconds, 319.37 mph; 2. Antron Brown, 3.899, 310.98; 3. Josh Hart, 3.902, 317.27; 4. Dan Mercier, 4.024, 278.69; 5. Mike Salinas, 4.067, 229.39; 6. Austin Prock, 4.075, 239.27; 7. Steve Torrence, 4.191, 212.73; 8. Clay Millican, 4.497, 174.91; 9. Justin Ashley, 4.807, 155.61; 10. Brittany Force, 4.907, 149.88; 11. Shawn Langdon, 7.364, 85.17; 12. Doug Kalitta, 10.365, 61.05; 13. Tony Schumacher, 11.552, 47.56.
Funny Car -- 1. Chad Green, Ford Mustang, 4.100, 310.98; 2. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.123, 309.13; 3. Ron Capps, Toyota Supra, 4.483, 199.88; 4. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.624, 186.74; 5. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.766, 170.88; 6. Alex Laughlin, Charger, 5.142, 151.90; 7. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 5.403, 136.26; 8. John Force, Camaro, 6.623, 96.42; 9. Alexis DeJoria, Supra, 6.816, 102.35; 10. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 9.214, 78.12; 11. J.R. Todd, Supra, 12.336, 78.86; 12. Jim Campbell, Chevy Monte Carlo, 14.716, 66.15.