Capps, Torrence, Enders & Sampey Lead The Way In Friday Qualifying For NHRA-Opening GatorNationals

Story By: NHRA – GAINESVILLE, FL – Even with two new crew chiefs, Ron Capps started his 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season on a high note on Friday, powering to the provisional No. 1 spot in qualifying in Funny Car at the season-opening 52nd annual AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.

Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also provisional No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the first race of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.

Capps put together a pass of 3.895-seconds at 329.02 mph in his 11,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. It would be the former world champ’s 26th career No. 1 qualifier if it holds, and a noteworthy one after longtime crew chief Rahn Tobler retired in the off-season. Capps is working with Dean Antonelli and John Medlen in 2021, a pair of proven crew chiefs in the Don Schumacher Racing camp who helped send Capps to the top on Friday.

“I talked about testing last week and how it went that first time with this team, and it just feels great,” Capps said. “We ran two 3.89s at testing last week, so it’s almost like we can dial-in a bracket car here so far. I’m honestly tickled. I just want to make the whole team proud. We already knew this was a great car. This is a team that battled for a championship the past few seasons and won a lot of races. There’s not a lot I can do other than be myself and drive the car the best I can. I just wanted the car to prove itself, and let Guido and John Medlen do their thing. There are so many things that are different to adjust to, but I’m getting more comfortable in the car. Unloading with a provisional No. 1 qualifier is great. What a perfect time to go up and show up.”

Alexis DeJoria is currently second in Funny Car with a 3.914 at 324.28 and Tim Wilkerson sits third after his pass of 3.917 at 324.28.

Torrence, who has won the last three Top Fuel world titles, wasted little time asserting control in a class he has dominated in recent seasons thanks to his blast of 3.699 at 324.90 in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster. If it holds, it would give Torrence, who also won in Gainesville last season, his 28th career No. 1 qualifier. Torrence was the only driver to reach the 3.60s on Friday, as veteran Doug Kalitta took the second with a run of 3.746 at 307.37. Brittany Force, making her first appearance in the class in more than a year, currently sits third after a solid run of 3.747 at 330.47.

Erica Enders picked up right where she left off a year ago, as the back-to-back Pro Stock world champ made a strong run on Friday in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, going to the top with a run of 6.528 at 210.77. Enders picked up her fourth world title a year ago and started her 2021 impressively as the 29-time event winner looks for her first career win in Gainesville. If it holds, it would also give Enders her 23rd career No. 1 qualifier. Greg Anderson is currently in the second spot after going 6.536 at a Friday-best 211.30 and Deric Kramer took the third spot with a 6.540 at 210.08.

Debuting a new four-valve Vance & Hines/Mission Foods Suzuki, Angelle Sampey impressed immediately in Pro Stock Motorcycle, jumping to the top spot with a stellar run of 6.746 at 196.67. If it holds, it would be the 52nd career top spot for the three-time world champ, who is also among the first in the class to ride the new four-valve Suzuki. Defending world champ and event winner Matt Smith wasn’t far off Sampey’s pace, checking in at No. 2 thanks to a 6.768 at a class-best 199.82. Hector Arana Jr. is currently third with his run of 6.817 at 198.32.

Qualifying continues Saturday at the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals begin at 12:05 p.m. ET.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Friday’s results after the first one of three rounds of qualifying for the 52nd annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, first of 22 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

Top Fuel — 1. Steve Torrence, 3.699 seconds, 324.90 mph; 2. Doug Kalitta, 3.746, 307.37; 3. Brittany Force, 3.747, 330.47; 4. Shawn Langdon, 3.749, 323.89; 5. Billy Torrence, 3.758, 296.11; 6. Josh Hart, 3.768, 324.44; 7. Clay Millican, 3.787, 317.94; 8. Mike Salinas, 3.807, 320.89; 9. Arthur Allen, 3.960, 265.64; 10. Mike Bucher, 4.029, 301.00; 11. Joe Morrison, 4.294, 224.06; 12. Antron Brown, 4.308, 187.18; 13. Doug Foley, 4.959, 146.34; 14. Krista Baldwin, 5.343, 125.74; 15. Justin Ashley, 5.700, 111.86; 16. Scott Palmer, 6.545, 94.33. Not Qualified: 17. Leah Pruett, 6.567, 94.57; 18. Todd Paton, broke.

Funny Car — 1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.895, 329.02; 2. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.914, 324.28; 3. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.917, 326.32; 4. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.955, 325.61; 5. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.971, 322.50; 6. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.998, 318.24; 7. Chad Green, Mustang, 3.998, 310.70; 8. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.033, 306.19; 9. Dave Richards, Mustang, 4.091, 292.14; 10. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.308, 209.62; 11. Bobby Bode, Mustang, 4.402, 206.54; 12. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.452, 212.86; 13. John Force, Camaro, 4.456, 207.94; 14. John Smith, Charger, 4.490, 185.21; 15. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.546, 185.56; 16. Mike McIntire, Camry, 4.587, 188.94. Not Qualified: 17. Blake Alexander, 5.186, 143.31; 18. Terry Haddock, 7.221, 99.56.

Pro Stock — 1. Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.528, 210.77; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.536, 211.30; 3. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.540, 210.08; 4. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.543, 210.11; 5. Troy Coughlin Jr., Ford Mustang, 6.543, 209.85; 6. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.544, 210.18; 7. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.549, 210.83; 8. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.555, 209.72; 9. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.557, 209.72; 10. Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.558, 208.59; 11. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.563, 209.92; 12. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.569, 208.71; 13. Bob Benza, Camaro, 6.579, 209.85; 14. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Mustang, 6.586, 209.43; 15. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.598, 210.08; 16. Cristian Cuadra, Mustang, 6.603, 208.55. Not Qualified: 17. Richie Stevens, 6.615, 206.89; 18. Fernando Cuadra, 6.629, 208.46; 19. Alan Prusiensky, 6.726, 199.20; 20. John Callahan, 7.982, 190.70; 21. John Gaydosh Jr, 13.126, 69.36.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.746, 196.67; 2. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.768, 199.82; 3. Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.817, 198.32; 4. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.821, 193.90; 5. Joey Milton, Suzuki, 6.828, 195.31; 6. Scotty Pollacheck, EBR, 6.863, 197.22; 7. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 6.884, 195.28; 8. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.912, 194.21; 9. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.920, 196.39; 10. Marc Ingwersen, Buell, 6.948, 193.54; 11. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.982, 192.30; 12. Jianna Salinas, Suzuki, 6.987, 188.65; 13. Cory Reed, Suzuki, 6.988, 191.02; 14. David Barron, EBR, 7.149, 189.07; 15. Lance Bonham, Buell, 7.212, 187.08; 16. John Hall, Buell, 7.405, 137.37. Not Qualified: 17. Chris Bostick, 7.471, 153.61; 18. Pablo Gonzalez, 9.550, 89.30; 19. Michael Phillips, 15.790, 31.89; 20. Jerry Savoie, broke; 21. Steve Johnson, broke.

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