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S. Torrence, Capps, Anderson and Sampey Take Top Spots at NHRA Gatornationals

Steve Torrence maintained his top spot in Top Fuel on Saturday, as the three-time defending NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series world champ qualified No. 1 at the season-opening 52nd annual AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.

Ron Capps (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the first race of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.

Torrence qualified No. 1 for the 28th time in his career after his impressive run of 3.699-seconds at 324.90 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster from Friday held up. After a string of three straight dominant seasons, Torrence appeared to keep his momentum going to open 2021. He will take on Joe Morrison to open eliminations, looking to repeat his Gainesville triumph from last season.

“We need to maintain our focus and concentration on going laps and going rounds because there’s a lot of people targeting us,” said Torrence, a 40-time event winner. “We’re going to have to step up. Brittany (Force) is back, some other people are back and it’s going to be a competitive field, just as it always is. Getting in these things, you get jacked up and that run (Friday) was stout. We made a good run this afternoon and we’re excited to stay on top. The yellow (No. 1 qualifier) hats are nice, but we’re trying to get some of those winner’s hats, so we’ll see what we can do.”

Steve’s father, Billy, moved to second in the final qualifying session with a run of 3.735 at 326.95, while Leah Pruett also made a big jump to close out Saturday, going 3.741 at 326.32 to qualify third.

Capps’ 3.895 at 329.02 in his 11,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat from Friday gave him the No. 1 qualifier for the 26th time in his career. It’s a solid start for Capps, who will race Jim Campbell to begin eliminations. Don Schumacher Racing’s 14-race winning streak in Funny Car is also on the line and Capps, a 66-time event winner, hopes to extend that streak on Sunday in Gainesville.

“I’m just a small link and I just didn’t want to mess up,” said Capps, who has three wins at the historic facility. “I’ve got my first Camping World hat (for a No. 1 qualifier) and it’s great. It’s been fun and we’re excited, but tomorrow is raceday. We’ve got a great crowd here, and I’m feeling good and I don’t want the dream to end, so hopefully we can finish the job on Sunday.”

Alexis DeJoria qualified second thanks to her pass of 3.914 at 324.28 and Tim Wilkerson took third on the strength of his 3.917 at 326.32.

Greg Anderson and Erica Enders battled for the top position in Pro Stock, and the two four-time world champs swapped spots on Saturday, with Anderson going 6.525 at 211.36 in his Race Star Wheels/Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro. It gives the veteran his 107th career No. 1 qualifier and plenty of momentum heading into raceday, where he will meet Fernando Cuadra Jr. in the opening round. After going winless in 2020, Anderson, a 94-time event winner, looks to start 2021 on a good note and win in Gainesville for the fifth time.

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“It feels great,” Anderson said. “It’s been a long five months with no racing and that drives us crazy. This is what it’s all about, racing at the Gatornationals, and so far my car has just been flawless. We got the spot we wanted and we’re going to come out tomorrow – on my birthday – and see if we can get a blue (winner’s) Camping World hat.”

Enders, the defending and back-to-back world champ, finished in the second spot thanks to her 6.528 at 210.77 and Matt Hartford jumped to third in the final qualifying session after going 6.532 at 209.62.

A terrific opening weekend got even better for Angelle Sampey in Pro Stock Motorcycle, as she improved on her run from Friday with a pass of 6.742 at 200.00 on her Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki. It gave the three-time world champion her 52nd career No. 1 qualifier and Sampey will open eliminations against Michael Phillips. Sampey’s fastest career run also sent her into the Denso Auto Parts 200 mph club, a significant achievement on her new four-valve Suzuki.

“It is amazing to feel the love and support from everyone at Vance & Hines,” said Sampey, who has three career Gatornationals victories. “I’ve always been on a mission and it feels like mission accomplished already. But there’s still so much more ahead this weekend with this Suzuki four-valve that Vance & Hines developed. I’m just the lucky rider who gets to be on this bike and I’m loving it. I’m still learning the motorcycle and it’s been a struggle at times, but I’m still going.”

Defending world champ Matt Smith qualified second with a 6.768 at 199.82, and he went a weekend-best 200.74 in the final qualifying session. Joey Gladstone took the third spot after going 6.783 at 198.50.

Eliminations at the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals begin at 10 a.m. ET on Sunday.


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the 52nd annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, the first of 22 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.

Top Fuel — 1. Steve Torrence, 3.699 seconds, 324.90 mph vs. 16. Joe Morrison, 4.294, 224.06; 2. Billy Torrence, 3.735, 326.95 vs. 15. Scott Palmer, 4.110, 264.49; 3. Leah Pruett, 3.741, 326.32 vs. 14. Mike Bucher, 4.029, 301.00; 4. Doug Kalitta, 3.746, 307.37 vs. 13. Arthur Allen, 3.915, 299.20; 5. Brittany Force, 3.747, 330.47 vs. 12. Justin Ashley, 3.873, 319.60; 6. Shawn Langdon, 3.749, 323.89 vs. 11. Doug Foley, 3.849, 322.11; 7. Mike Salinas, 3.767, 324.36 vs. 10. Antron Brown, 3.809, 316.75; 8. Josh Hart, 3.768, 324.44 vs. 9. Clay Millican, 3.787, 317.94.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Krista Baldwin, 4.503, 181.81; 18. Todd Paton, broke.

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Funny Car — 1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.895, 329.02 vs. 16. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.204, 299.13; 2. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.914, 324.28 vs. 15. John Smith, Charger, 4.181, 256.70; 3. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.917, 326.32 vs. 14. Dave Richards, Mustang, 4.091, 292.14; 4. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.931, 330.15 vs. 13. Bobby Bode, Mustang, 4.075, 263.98; 5. John Force, Camaro, 3.934, 323.66 vs. 12. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.033, 306.19; 6. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.955, 325.61 vs. 11. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 4.007, 316.23; 7. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.971, 322.50 vs. 10. Chad Green, Mustang, 3.998, 310.70; 8. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.974, 325.30 vs. 9. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.986, 323.19.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Terry Haddock, 4.228, 244.47; 18. Mike McIntire, 4.587, 188.94.

Pro Stock — 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.525, 211.36 vs. 16. Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.583, 208.97; 2. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.528, 210.77 vs. 15. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Mustang, 6.581, 209.65; 3. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.532, 209.62 vs. 14. Bob Benza, Camaro, 6.570, 210.01; 4. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.540, 210.08 vs. 13. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.570, 210.05; 5. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.543, 210.57 vs. 12. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.563, 209.92; 6. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.543, 210.11 vs. 11. Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.558, 208.59; 7. Troy Coughlin Jr., Mustang, 6.543, 209.85 vs. 10. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.557, 209.72; 8. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.549, 210.83 vs. 9. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.555, 209.72.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Richie Stevens, 6.598, 209.59; 18. Fernando Cuadra, 6.620, 208.75; 19. Alan Prusiensky, 6.674, 206.48; 20. John Callahan, 7.982, 190.70; 21. John Gaydosh Jr, 11.117, 162.63.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.742, 200.00 vs. 16. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 6.924, 194.72; 2. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.768, 199.82 vs. 15. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.912, 194.21; 3. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.783, 198.50 vs. 14. Chris Bostick, Suzuki, 6.906, 194.66; 4. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 6.811, 198.70 vs. 13. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.879, 193.74; 5. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.814, 196.24 vs. 12. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.875, 194.32; 6. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.816, 198.20 vs. 11. John Hall, Buell, 6.874, 197.31; 7. Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.817, 198.32 vs. 10. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.842, 199.43; 8. Scotty Pollacheck, EBR, 6.827, 198.79 vs. 9. Cory Reed, Suzuki, 6.839, 198.61.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Marc Ingwersen, 6.925, 195.08; 18. Jianna Salinas, 6.974, 189.42; 19. Pablo Gonzalez, 7.033, 190.54; 20. David Barron, 7.039, 189.07; 21. Lance Bonham, 7.053, 188.49.

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