Josh Hart, JR Todd, Greg Anderson & Matt Smith All Start ’21 NHRA Season Off On Right Foot At GatorNationals With Wins

Story By: NHRA – GAINESVILLE, FL – Rookie Josh Hart won in his Top Fuel debut on Sunday, powering to the victory at the season-opening 52nd annual AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway in his first career NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series start.

J.R. Todd (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won in their respective categories at the first race of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.

Hart, an Ocala, Fla. native, became the first driver to win in their first NHRA start since the late Darrell Russell did it 20 years ago to open the 2001 season, going 3.826-seconds at 323.66 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Burnyzz/Technet dragster to beat Shawn Langdon in the final round. Hart reached the final round thanks to victories against Clay Millican, three-time defending world champ Steve Torrence and Justin Ashley, staying in the low 3.80s in the second and third rounds. He was spectacular on the starting line in the final round and cruised to the historic win at his home track to become the 110th driver to win in Top Fuel.

“Never in a million years would I have thought this was going to happen,” Hart said. “I’ve wanted to do this for a really long time and to do it in Top Fuel is just amazing. (Crew chief) Ron Douglas gave me an amazing car and the guys have worked their butts off. It’s just amazing. That thing was a monster going down the track.”

Langdon’s 35th career final round included round wins against Doug Foley, Leah Pruett and Antron Brown.

In a wild Funny Car final round against Robert Hight, Todd earned his first win in nearly two years, 5.184 at 286.38 in his 11,000-horsepower DHL Toyota Camry. Both Todd and Hight smoked the tires early in the run, but Todd pedaled, recovered and went right down the track after that to win in Gainesville for the first time in his standout career and get his 19th career win. The Kalitta Motorsports driver beat Blake Alexander, Tim Wilkerson and Cruz Pedregon to reach the final round. His victory also snapped the 14-race Funny Car win streak for Don Schumacher Racing, giving the Kalitta team a strong start to 2021.

“It’s amazing to be among the legends who have won this race,” Todd said. “This is Don Garlits country down here in Gainesville. First off, I have to thank the legend Connie Kalitta for the opportunity to earn one of these trophies. Today was tough. No offense to all the other drivers out there, but in my opinion, Robert Hight is the best driver out here. That team sets the benchmark for the rest of us. Our DHL Toyota Camry went out there and blew the tires off and I thought, ‘Oh man, here we go.’ I just kind of rolled into the throttle, he never came by us and here we are holding another (Wally).”

Hight, making his first start in more than a year, ended up in his 81st career final round thanks to wins against Bob Bode, teammate John Force and Bob Tasca III.

Celebrating his 60th birthday, Pro Stock legend Greg Anderson picked up the ideal present, winning for the 95th time in the class by going 6.602 at 209.33 in his Race Star Wheels Chevrolet Camaro to beat Troy Coughlin Jr. in the final round. Anderson took out Cristian Cuadra, Alex Laughlin and Deric Kramer to reach the final round for the 159th time in his career. But after going winless in 2020, Anderson, a four-time world champ, was thrilled to pick up the victory against Coughlin. It also gave Anderson his fifth career victory at the Gatornationals.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve held one of those trophies, and I’ve said it a million times in my career, you always wonder if you’ll be able to do it again,” Anderson said. “I guess you’re not human if you don’t have doubts, and it’s a shame to have those thoughts, but I think it’s good in a way because it drives you to work harder every day. You just want to have that feeling again so bad. To finally get back to the winner’s circle a year and a half later, and to do it on my birthday, well that makes this a win that I’ll never forget.”

Coughlin, beginning his second year in Pro Stock, beat Aaron Stanfield, Fernando Cuadra Jr. and Mason McGaha to reach his second career final round.

It was an outstanding start to a title defense season for Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Matt Smith, as he made multiple runs of 200 mph or faster on his Denso Auto Parts/Stockseth/Matt Smith Racing EBR, including the final round when he went 6.785 at 200.65 to beat Ryan Oehler’s 6.869 at 196.53. It was Smith’s quickest run of the weekend and he topped 200 mph on every run in eliminations to win in Gainesville for a second straight year. He knocked off Jim Underdahl, Hector Arana Jr. and Steve Johnson to reach the final round, rolling to his 27th career win.

“I just have to go up there and race my lane,” said Smith, a four-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion. “This bike was on mean this weekend. We weren’t able to quite get the E.T. we needed, but this bike was running the speed.”

Oehler advanced to his third career final round thanks to round wins against Jerry Savoie, Karen Stoffer and Scotty Pollacheck.
***

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Final finish order (1-16) at the 52nd annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. The race is the first of 22 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.

TOP FUEL:
1. Josh Hart; 2. Shawn Langdon; 3. Antron Brown; 4. Justin Ashley; 5. Leah Pruett; 6. Billy Torrence; 7. Steve Torrence; 8. Doug Kalitta; 9. Brittany Force; 10. Mike Salinas; 11. Scott Palmer; 12. Doug Foley; 13. Clay Millican; 14. Arthur Allen; 15. Mike Bucher; 16. Joe Morrison.

FUNNY CAR:
1. J.R. Todd; 2. Robert Hight; 3. Bob Tasca III; 4. Cruz Pedregon; 5. Tim Wilkerson; 6. Alexis DeJoria; 7. Ron Capps; 8. John Force; 9. Matt Hagan; 10. Paul Lee; 11. Bobby Bode; 12. Blake Alexander; 13. Dave Richards; 14. Chad Green; 15. John Smith; 16. Jim Campbell.

PRO STOCK:
1. Greg Anderson; 2. Troy Coughlin Jr.; 3. Deric Kramer; 4. Mason McGaha; 5. Kyle Koretsky; 6. Alex Laughlin; 7. Matt Hartford; 8. Fernando Cuadra Jr.; 9. Kenny Delco; 10. Erica Enders; 11. Dallas Glenn; 12. Val Smeland; 13. Chris McGaha; 14. Bob Benza; 15. Aaron Stanfield; 16. Cristian Cuadra.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:
1. Matt Smith; 2. Ryan Oehler; 3. Steve Johnson; 4. Scotty Pollacheck; 5. Hector Arana Jr; 6. Angelle Sampey; 7. Karen Stoffer; 8. Chris Bostick; 9. Joey Gladstone; 10. Angie Smith; 11. Cory Reed; 12. Michael Phillips; 13. Kelly Clontz; 14. Jim Underdahl; 15. John Hall; 16. Jerry Savoie.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Sunday’s final results from the 52nd annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. The race is the first of 22 in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel — Josh Hart, 3.826 seconds, 323.66 mph def. Shawn Langdon, 4.244 seconds, 219.08 mph.

Funny Car — J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 5.184, 286.38 def. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 6.591, 144.41.

Pro Stock — Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.602, 209.33 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., Ford Mustang, 15.385, 53.98.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — Matt Smith, EBR, 6.785, 200.65 def. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 6.869, 196.53.

Top Alcohol Dragster — Rachel Meyer, 5.227, 277.60 def. Jackie Fricke, 5.295, 277.09.

Top Alcohol Funny Car — Sean Bellemeur, Chevy Camaro, 5.524, 267.59 def. DJ Cox Jr., Camaro, 5.522, 265.06.

Competition Eliminator — Greg Kamplain, Spitzer, 6.967, 175.00 def. Richard Preiser, Bantam, 8.965, 145.83.

Super Stock — Sterling Simmons, Chevy Cavalier, 9.382, 140.01 def. Tyler Caheely, Chevy S-10, 9.219, 144.04.

Stock Eliminator — Jimmy Hidalgo Jr., Pontiac GTO, 10.844, 121.22 def. Randy Wilkes, Pontiac Firebird, 9.894, 130.08.

Super Comp — Ray Miller III, Dragster, 8.902, 177.11 def. Allan Ackles, Dragster, 8.897, 174.01.

Super Gas — Jonathan Anderson, Corvette, 9.924, 160.90 def. Larry Bernshausen, Chevy Vega Wagon, 9.898, 148.58.

Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers — Brandon Miller, Chevy Corvette, 7.091, 193.27 def. Derrick Brown, Chevy Camaro, 6.276, 225.75.

Pro Modified — Jose Gonzalez, Chevy Camaro, 5.720, 254.33 def. Justin Bond, Camaro, 8.341, 112.00.

Factory Stock Showdown — Aaron Stanfield, Chevy Camaro, 7.896, 173.45 def. Kevin Skinner, Ford Mustang, 13.734, 78.61.

Top Fuel Harley — Randal Andras, Weekend, 6.403, 213.30 def. Tii Tharpe, Dixie, 9.801, 90.90.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Final round-by-round results from the 52nd annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, the first of 22 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series:

TOP FUEL:

ROUND ONE — Josh Hart, 4.529, 169.57 def. Clay Millican, 5.973, 104.11; Antron Brown, 3.759, 322.42 def. Mike Salinas, 3.737, 329.83; Justin Ashley, 3.733, 324.05 def. Brittany Force, 3.727, 331.94; Leah Pruett, 3.787, 314.09 def. Mike Bucher, 7.686, 81.27; Billy Torrence, 3.744, 327.66 def. Scott Palmer, 3.791, 322.27; Steve Torrence, 3.714, 328.06 def. Joe Morrison, 15.731, 75.00; Doug Kalitta, 3.746, 309.20 def. Arthur Allen, 6.093, 102.46; Shawn Langdon, 3.752, 320.36 def. Doug Foley, 3.801, 322.58;
QUARTERFINALS — Langdon, 3.764, 317.79 def. Pruett, 3.887, 294.05; Brown, 3.803, 322.04 def. B. Torrence, 4.500, 173.52; Ashley, 3.833, 321.81 def. Kalitta, 7.895, 84.83; Hart, 3.838, 322.88 def. S. Torrence, 4.521, 186.67;
SEMIFINALS — Hart, 3.811, 325.14 def. Ashley, Broke; Langdon, 3.821, 318.39 def. Brown, 4.450, 182.92;
FINAL — Hart, 3.826, 323.66 def. Langdon, 4.244, 219.08.

FUNNY CAR:

ROUND ONE — Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.963, 326.08 def. Dave Richards, Mustang, 4.147, 288.58; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.921, 327.11 def. Bobby Bode, Mustang, 4.025, 309.91; Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.918, 324.12 def. John Smith, Dodge Charger, 5.457, 136.90; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.923, 323.74 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 12.844, 76.95; John Force, Camaro, 3.915, 326.56 def. Paul Lee, Charger, 3.977, 328.94; J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.933, 327.35 def. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 4.032, 318.99; Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.973, 322.81 def. Chad Green, Mustang, 4.503, 180.09; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.920, 330.47 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.922, 329.67;
QUARTERFINALS — Todd, 3.940, 320.05 def. Wilkerson, 3.977, 325.53; Pedregon, 3.989, 319.90 def. DeJoria, 4.031, 320.20; Hight, 3.931, 330.39 def. Force, 4.994, 164.19; Tasca III, 3.958, 327.11 def. Capps, 4.946, 158.91;
SEMIFINALS — Todd, 3.970, 322.58 def. Pedregon, 4.781, 171.03; Hight, 4.093, 306.19 def. Tasca III, 4.115, 312.35;
FINAL — Todd, 5.184, 286.38 def. Hight, 6.591, 144.41.

PRO STOCK:

ROUND ONE — Alex Laughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.568, 209.88 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.595, 208.94; Troy Coughlin Jr., Ford Mustang, 6.564, 209.20 def. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 17.941, 44.94; Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.591, 207.50 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.549, 209.88; Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.550, 210.08 def. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.596, 208.88 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.581, 209.39; Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.541, 209.46 def. Bob Benza, Camaro, 6.767, 207.05; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.550, 211.13 def. Cristian Cuadra, Mustang, Broke; Fernando Cuadra Jr., Mustang, 6.564, 209.33 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.549, 210.37;
QUARTERFINALS — Coughlin Jr., 6.572, 208.91 def. Cuadra Jr., Foul – Red Light; Kramer, 6.562, 209.04 def. Koretsky, 6.562, 209.46; Anderson, 6.555, 209.98 def. Laughlin, 6.600, 208.49; M. McGaha, 6.605, 207.43 def. Hartford, 6.625, 208.81;
SEMIFINALS — Coughlin Jr., 6.633, 208.55 def. M. McGaha, 13.858, 61.17; Anderson, 6.569, 209.88 def. Kramer, 6.584, 209.23;
FINAL — Anderson, 6.602, 209.33 def. Coughlin Jr., 15.385, 53.98.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:

ROUND ONE — Scotty Pollacheck, 6.833, 196.82 def. Cory Reed, Suzuki, 6.870, 195.59; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.811, 194.80 def. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.913, 194.04; Hector Arana Jr, 6.812, 199.32 def. Angie Smith, 6.835, 198.38; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.869, 197.42 def. John Hall, Buell, 9.745, 86.02; Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.764, 197.13 def. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 6.900, 194.72; Ryan Oehler, 6.845, 197.28 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 15.853, 41.55; Chris Bostick, Suzuki, 6.840, 196.27 def. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.819, 194.88; Matt Smith, 6.811, 200.89 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.915, 192.60;
QUARTERFINALS — Johnson, 6.853, 197.02 def. Bostick, Foul – Red Light; Oehler, 6.818, 198.99 def. Stoffer, Foul – Red Light; M. Smith, 6.808, 200.71 def. Arana Jr, 6.816, 197.97; Pollacheck, 6.831, 197.13 def. Sampey, 6.820, 196.27;
SEMIFINALS — Oehler, 6.880, 196.85 def. Pollacheck, Broke; M. Smith, 6.850, 200.29 def. Johnson, 6.912, 195.56;
FINAL — M. Smith, 6.785, 200.65 def. Oehler, 6.869, 196.53.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Point standings (top 10) following the 52nd annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, the first of 22 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series –

Top Fuel

1. Josh Hart, 113; 2. Shawn Langdon, 94; 3. (tie) Justin Ashley, 72; Antron Brown, 72; 5. Steve Torrence, 64; 6. Billy Torrence, 62; 7. Doug Kalitta, 54; 8. Leah Pruett, 52; 9. Brittany Force, 35; 10. Mike Salinas, 34.

Funny Car

1. J.R. Todd, 114; 2. Robert Hight, 95; 3. Cruz Pedregon, 73; 4. Bob Tasca III, 72; 5. Ron Capps, 64; 6. Alexis DeJoria, 60; 7. Tim Wilkerson, 57; 8. John Force, 56; 9. Matt Hagan, 34; 10. (tie) Blake Alexander, 32;
Chad Green, 32; Paul Lee, 32.

Pro Stock

1. Greg Anderson, 123; 2. Troy Coughlin Jr., 93; 3. Deric Kramer, 77; 4. Mason McGaha, 72; 5. Matt Hartford, 59; 6. Kyle Koretsky, 55; 7. Alex Laughlin, 52; 8. Fernando Cuadra Jr., 51; 9. Erica Enders, 44; 10. Kenny Delco, 34.

Pro Stock Motorcycle

1. Matt Smith, 119; 2. Ryan Oehler, 96; 3. Steve Johnson, 74; 4. Scotty Pollacheck, 73; 5. Angelle Sampey, 67; 6. Karen Stoffer, 55; 7. Hector Arana Jr, 54; 8. Chris Bostick, 51; 9. Joey Gladstone, 40; 10. (tie) Kelly Clontz, 32; John Hall, 32;
Cory Reed, 32; Angie Smith, 32.

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