Story By: NHRA – BRAINERD, MN – During his incredible run that started during the 2017 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season, Top Fuel star Steve Torrence has won a tremendous number of races, as well as three consecutive championships.
But none of the 38 victories in that span have come at Brainerd International Raceway, which is the site of this weekend’s 39th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
In fact, it’s the only track on the NHRA tour where Torrence doesn’t have a victory, something the current points leader will try to change at the fan-favorite facility. He’s been downright dominant in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster in recent seasons and that includes this year where Torrence has picked up six wins and will carry the points lead into the upcoming Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Solving Brainerd would give the team plenty of momentum heading into crunch time and Torrence is eager to try and tackle this weekend’s challenge.
“We just never have been able to put everything together,” said Torrence, who is also looking for his first-ever final round at Brainerd. “We’ve run well. I think we qualified second the last two races (2018 and 2019) and I know we’ve been to the semifinals a couple times (2008 and 2018). I’m glad to be back, though. I think as a group we respond pretty well to challenges like this. With (crew chiefs) Richard Hogan, Bobby Lagana and the rest of the Capco Boys behind me, I never go up there thinking I’m not going to win no matter what the numbers say. I know we’ve got a car that can win, and we just have to go out and do it.”
Leah Pruett (Top Fuel) and Ron Capps (Funny Car) were the winners of the 2019 event. This year’s race at Brainerd will be televised on FOX Sports 1 and FOX, including live final eliminations coverage starting at 3:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Aug. 22 on FOX. It is the 12th of 20 races during the 2021 NHRA season and appears in its traditional spot as the penultimate race of the regular season. That puts it at a key point, which would add even more significance if Torrence can capture the victory.
Winning at all the tracks on the NHRA circuit would be another incredible accomplishment for Torrence, who is closing in on 50 career Top Fuel wins. He’s currently at 46 and will be the heavy favorite to claim a fourth straight world title. To get it — as well as a Brainerd win — Torrence will be challenged by a number of top drivers, including Topeka winner Brittany Force, who won at Brainerd in 2016, Torrence’s father, Billy, who won the race in 2018, Pruett, three-time world champ Antron Brown, Mike Salinas, veteran Doug Kalitta, Clay Millican, Justin Ashley, rookie Josh Hart and Shawn Langdon. But Torrence has found a winning recipe and he’s going to try to keep following it.
“We’re looking forward to the Countdown,” Torrence said. “It’s always (tough) to have to give up a big lead, but we know we’ve got a race car that’s bad to the bone. We’re not planning on doing anything different the next two weeks and we’re sure not going to do anything different in the playoffs.”
Funny Car’s John Force has a long history of success in Brainerd, winning an incredible 11 times. Coming off a victory last weekend in Topeka, the Funny Car points leader will look win in Brainerd for the first time since 2007. To do so, he’ll have to get by the likes of Topeka runner-up J.R. Todd, Pomona winner Capps, who has six Brainerd victories, defending world champ Matt Hagan, Bob Tasca III, who has two wins in 2021, Robert Hight, Cruz Pedregon, Alexis DeJoria and Tim Wilkerson.
The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport. The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service will also make its first appearance in Brainerd, as fans will be able to watch the thrilling and unpredictable action of the 250-mph Pro Mod cars. Points leader Jose Gonzalez has won back-to-back races this season. The stop in Brainerd will also include the 2021 debut — as well as the first Brainerd appearance — for the exciting Mountain Motor Pro Stock class, bringing their popular and powerful 800-plus cubic-inch engines to Brainerd International Raceway.
After nitro qualifying on both Friday and Saturday, fans can enjoy the entertaining “Walking Tall” PT Cruiser Wheelstander drive by “NitroMike.”
As always, fans are granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans a chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 6:00 p.m. CT on Friday, Aug. 20 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Aug. 21 at 2:00 and 5:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. CT on Sunday, Aug. 22.
NHRA RETURNS TO WILD HORSE PASS MOTORSPORTS PARK IN 2022
NHRA has teamed up with Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park and the Gila River Indian Community to announce the return of the NHRA Arizona Nationals, slated for Feb. 25-27, 2022.
The NHRA Arizona Nationals traditionally serves as the second event on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series tour. The facility has seen record breaking performances and is a fan-favorite of the circuit.
“With over 35 years of NHRA racing history at the Motorsports Park, we are eager for the Arizona Nationals to return to Wild Horse Pass and the Gila River Indian Community,” quoted General Manager, Henry Moreno. “We are dedicated to making the event the best possible experience for the fans and racers alike.”
“We missed the NHRA Arizona Nationals in 2021,” said Glen Cromwell, NHRA President. “We are thrilled to return to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park and put on a great show for the Phoenix fans.”
Exciting updates for 2022 include FREE event parking at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park with the purchase of an NHRA Arizona Nationals ticket to go alongside all the heart-racing action fans have come to expect from any NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series national event.
Ticket renewals for 2020 ticket holders will begin in September with new ticket sales opening up in October. NHRA officials plan to announce the full 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series schedule in the upcoming weeks.