Story By: SCOTT SMITH / NHRA – LAS VEGAS, NV – In what has been a remarkably dominant year for Don Schumacher Racing in Funny Car, the team knows it will claim a 2020 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series world title. But it will take this weekend’s Dodge NHRA Finals presented by Pennzoil at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to determine just who will end up on top in this unprecedented year.
Matt Hagan, a two-time world champ is the current leader, while teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. closed the gap to 42 points with his victory last weekend in Houston. DSR’s Jack Beckman is only 43 points behind Hagan, creating what will be an excitement-filled weekend in the class, especially with the points-and-a-half scenario in play in Las Vegas. That means a round win equals 30 points, which will certainly add some extra dramatics on Sunday.
A Funny Car victory to close out the season for the organization would also give DSR its 14th straight win in the category, including a clean sweep of the 2020 campaign. That’s on the mind of Johnson, but so is claiming his first career NHRA world championship in his 11,000-horsepower MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. He’ll need some help, but the 21-time event winner is excited for the opportunity.
“We have to have some things go our way, but we’ve given ourselves a shot and that’s all you can ask for,” Johnson said. “You have to be smart and do the best you can, and if we can repeat what we did (in Houston), maybe the stars will align for us. Basically, we need to have another good race because unless you do what you’re supposed to do, it won’t matter. But these guys bring it every week and that makes you proud. They’ve continued to do their job.”
Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Hagan (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith are defending winners of the event, which will be televised on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), including live eliminations coverage starting at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 1. It is the last of 11 races during the 2020 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. The Funny Car title race is one of four championships to be decided in Las Vegas during what will be a thrilling, must-see weekend.
Steve Torrence is in his customary position in Top Fuel, at least dating back the last handful of years, as the two-time defending champion holds a commanding lead closing in on a third straight world title. He currently has a 101-point advantage over veteran Doug Kalitta, who is seeking his first world championship. Kalitta finished second to Torrence by a handful of points a year ago, but beating Torrence in crunch time has proven to be a difficult task.
The Texan and driver of the 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster has advanced to four straight final rounds and five in the last six races, winning three races in that six-race stretch. It’s been a spectacular run over the last three seasons for Torrence, who has earned 24 of his 40 wins in that span, and he is determined to keep the run going to close out 2020.
“This weekend in Vegas is a huge weekend for our team,” Torrence said. “We have an opportunity to lock up our third championship in three years and we just need to continue what we’ve been doing all season. The bottom line is we know we’re taking a great car to Vegas. I can’t wait to get started. (Crew chief) Richard Hogan and these Capco boys have this hot running on mean right now. That just gives a driver so much confidence going up there (to the starting line).
Like the nitro classes, the Pro Stock world championship will come down to the wire and it’s between Enders, Jason Line and Jeg Coughlin Jr., who have a combined 11 world championships between them. Enders is the defending champ and a fourth world title would give her more championships than any female in NHRA history, and the standout currently leads Line and Coughlin, who are both retiring from the class following the season, by 55 points. Coughlin made a late charge last weekend in Houston in his JEGS.com Chevrolet Camaro, knocking off Enders in the second round and advancing to the final round, but the five-time world champion knows he may need a winning effort to go out on a championship note.
“We’re definitely giving it a go in these late stages of the season,” said Coughlin, who has 65 career Pro Stock wins. “We’re going to need a little help to win the championship , and certainly I’m not wishing anything bad on Erica, or Jason for that matter, but as witnessed (in Houston), anything can happen. If we have a repeat of that race we might be able to complete this dream scenario.”
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Smith is the favorite to claim his fourth world championship on his Denso/Stockseth/MSR EBR. He’s been dominant in qualifying, picking up four straight No. 1 qualifiers. He’s picked up two wins in that span, but Smith knows he has to finish strong against a number of standout competitors making a late-season charge. Teammate Scotty Pollacheck and Eddie Krawiec, who won in Houston to claim his first victory in more than two years, are currently 78 points back of Smith. Reigning world champion Andrew Hines is 86 points back of the leader in a crowded field, but the veteran Smith is solely focused on his performance in Las Vegas. If he performs like he has for the majority of the 2020 season, the championship is his.
“For us to clinch the world championship, we just have to make four runs and have no bad luck on those four runs,” said Smith, a 26-time event winner. “If that happens, we will win our fourth world championships and that will mean the world to myself and this team.”
The race also hosts the final event of the 2020 E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series season. The stop in Las Vegas includes thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series as well, where future stars of the sport hone their skills, along with the SAMTech.edu Factory Stock Showdown Drag Racing Series and the Mickey Thompson Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 12:00 and 3:15 p.m. PT on Saturday, Oct. 31. Final eliminations are scheduled for 10 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 1. Television coverage includes live action during eliminations beginning at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 1 on Fox Sports 1 (FS1).
As of today, there are no longer any tickets available for the event due to reaching the limited allowable capacity.
BRANDON SNIDER NOT FEELING THE HEAT AS HE SEEKS FIRST WORLD TITLE AT NHRA PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES FINALE IN LAS VEGAS
Brandon Snider finds himself in an ideal position heading to the final race of the 2020 season at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service. But after a number of recent firsts, the points leader insists he isn’t feeling the pressure.
Snider is in the driver’s seat in is supercharged Corvette heading to the finale, taking the points lead into Las Vegas against a host of contenders. He currently leads defending world champion Stevie “Fast” Jackson by 26 points, or a little more than one round, with a handful of drivers lurking closely behind. Mike Janis and Khalid alBalooshi, both former world champions, are 55 and 56 points behind Snider, respectively.
Things came together perfectly for Snider, who won his first career race in the class two races ago and has qualified No. 1 in two of the past three events. It’s put him in a great spot to claim a title in what has been a breakout year, but Snider said he’s simply enjoying the moment.
“I don’t think I’m feeling any pressure,” Snider said. “I’m not really worried about (the championship). We were just thinking about winning a race and getting our program better. That’s what our goal was this year, so we’re not going to think a different way now. We’re just going to go out and do the best we can. I get more enjoyment out of the people that help enjoying this because I like giving back to them. I get so much enjoyment out of that.”
The race, which is presented by Strutmasters.com, is the seventh and final race of the 2020 E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series season and will be shown on Fox Sports 2 (FS2). Jackson is the defending winner of the race, rolling to the victory a year ago in Vegas to cap off his dominant championship season.
It’s been a more difficult road in 2020, as there have been six different winners in the six races, including three first-time winners, but Jackson has often impressed the most in pressure situations. Should he put together another impressive weekend in Vegas, a second straight world title in the talent-filled class could be his, and that’s exactly the plan for Jackson in his supercharged Bahrain 1 Racing Camaro.
“When you are competing at this level and get to roll into the last race of the season with a chance to walk away with the title, it’s been a pretty good year,” said Jackson, who has one win this year and 10 in his career. “We haven’t been running as well as we should, but I’m pushing all my chips onto the table in Vegas. It’s going to be a shootout and I’m fully loaded.”
Snider will be ready as well, with his Corvette running well at a critical point in the season. He qualified No. 1 in back-to-back races in Gainesville and Dallas, and was second in Houston. Snider also beat Jackson on a holeshot in a thrilling final round in Dallas to pick up his first career victory in the class. It has him in uncharted waters at a key time, but Snider plans to stick to a routine that’s paid off this year.
“We’ve got the car working pretty well, and we knew a win was coming,” Snider said. “We felt like it was just a matter of time. For a few races now, we’ve had a car that was running well and going rounds, and it couldn’t have worked out any better. Everything has to line up and you just have to try to do your job. In the past, I’ve tried to pus the car and push myself, and then you wind up making mistakes. I’ve tried to be calm and laid back and just let things play its course.”
Strutmasters.com is the presenting sponsor for the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series race in Las Vegas as the 2020 campaign comes to a close. Strutmasters, an industry leader in suspension parts and air to non-air suspension conversion kits, created the original suspension conversion kit two decades ago. Since then, the company has established itself as a top name when it comes to all aspects of suspension parts and kits.
Featuring the world’s fastest doorslammer race cars, the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service offers something for every kind of hot-rodding enthusiast. The class is highlighted by historic muscle cars, as well as a variety of late model American muscle cars.