After a one-race absence at the top of Pro Stock qualifying, points leader Greg Anderson returned to his familiar perch in 2021 on Saturday at New England Dragway, racing to the No. 1 position at the TascaParts.com NHRA New England Nationals presented by Bandero Premium Tequila.
Billy Torrence (Top Fuel) and Matt Hagan (Funny Car) also qualified No. 1 in their respective categories at the sixth race of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
Anderson jumped to the top spot to open Saturday’s qualifying with a run of 6.526-seconds at 209.10 mph in his HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro. It gives Anderson five No. 1 qualifiers in six races this year and 110 in his standout career. The veteran qualified second in Houston, but the four-time world champ impressed on Saturday in Epping, moving a step closer to his third win this year. A victory would also tie him with Warren Johnson for the most in Pro Stock history (97). He opens eliminations against John Gaydosh Jr.
“I certainly can’t complain,” said Anderson, a two-time winner at New England Dragway. “It’s pretty much a dream scenario to start the season. I’ve made a couple of mistakes on the driver end, otherwise, we could a seriously good run going already, but I’ve got a lot of time yet to win some races out here. This car has been pretty bad to the bone all year and it’s a beautiful-looking car. I really want to present that first drag racing trophy to Mr. Hendrick and I can’t think of a better weekend to get that job done.”
Mason McGaha, the provisional No. 1 qualifier on Friday, took the second spot after going 6.538 at 210.28 and Aaron Stanfield finished third with a run of 6.545 at 210.83.
In Top Fuel, B. Torrence picked up his second No. 1 qualifier this year, with his run of 3.744 at 324.98 in his 11,000-horsepower Capo Contractors dragster from Friday securing the spot. Torrence made a strong run of 3.760 at 322.73 to close out qualifying, giving him plenty of momentum heading into Sunday where he will try for his first win of the season and also his first at New England Dragway. Friday’s run also gave B. Torrence his fifth career No. 1 qualifier and he’ll open eliminations against Joe Morrison.
“These boys have had me in a good car all year,” said Torrence, who has six career victories. “I just have to step up my game and get in there, and get from point A to point B faster than everyone else.”
Mike Salinas qualified second after going 3.771 at 321.35, and Justin Ashley finished in the third spot thanks to his run of 3.774 at 322.58. The stop at New England Dragway is the home track for Ashley, a New York native. Points leader Steve Torrence qualified fourth with a 3.785 at 320.13.
Hagan put himself in prime position to win for a fourth straight time in Funny Car at New England Dragway, as the defending world champ earned his first top qualifier of the year thanks to his run of 3.891 at 331.53 on Friday in his 11,000-horsepower DSR Performance Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye. It gives Hagan his 41st career No. 1 qualifier and another strong showing at a track where he has won three straight races.
“With (crew chief) Dickie Venables, it’s just a matter of time,” said Hagan, who is seeking his first victory of 2021 as well. “We’ve struggled a couple of races here and there trying some things, but Dickie is tired of messing around and he’s like, ‘Let’s go get it.’ I’m excited about tomorrow. We’ve won three races in a row here and we want to make it four. It’s going to be tough to do, but we’re going to try to see if we can do it.”
Hagan’s Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps qualified second with a 3.927 at 324.59 as DSR aims for its first Funny Car win of the year on Sunday. Charlotte winner John Force qualified third after going 3.929 at 326.95, and points leader and area native Bob Tasca III was a spot behind with a run of 3.962 at 323.97.
Eliminations for the TascaParts.com NHRA New England Nationals presented by Bandero Premium Tequila begin at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday.