Funny Car points leader Bob Tasca III powered to the top spot right before the rain came, taking the No. 1 qualifying position in impressive fashion on Saturday during the 34th annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park.
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel) and Dallas Glenn (Pro Stock) also qualified No. 1 in their respective categories at the fifth race of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season. Pro Stock completed Saturday’s two qualifying sessions, but only one session of Top Fuel was completed due to weather. Funny Car was interrupted midway through its second qualifier on Saturday.
By then, Tasca had vaulted to the top in Funny Car with his strong pass of 3.908-seconds at 331.53 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang, making one of the final runs of the second session before inclement weather wiped out the rest of qualifying. It gave Tasca his first No. 1 qualifier of 2021 and sixth overall. With two wins under his belt this year, Tasca will look to add another and win for the first time in Houston. He takes on Jim Campbell to open eliminations.
“We knew we were going to have an advantage going into that last session because we saw the radar,” Tasca said. “To get an opportunity to put this Motorcraft car on the pole, it’s always better starting No. 1 than No. 16. We lost our mojo a little bit in Charlotte, but it’s great to come out here, run 331 (mph) and qualify No. 1, and we’ll see what we can do Sunday.”
Alexis DeJoria continued her strong run over the last two weeks, qualifying second with a 3.912 at 307.44 in her ROKit Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota Camry after a final-round appearance in Charlotte. Ron Capps took the third spot with a run of 3.941 at 315.42.
In Top Fuel, points leader and three-time defending world champ Torrence rocketed to his second No. 1 qualifier of the year, and the Texan also moved a step closer to claiming his first career victory in Houston. He made the most of his only run on the track on Saturday, going 3.727 at 326.48 in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster. It is Torrence’s 29th career top spot and he’ll face off with Mitch King in the first round of eliminations. Torrence is trying to win for the third time this season and first at Houston Raceway Park.
“We’re just going to do the best we can,” said Torrence, who lost in the final round at Houston in 2020. “I’m going to try to get (winning at Houston) off my back this weekend. We’ll do the best we can. I’ve had an unbelievable career to this point and we’ve been in the final round a couple different times and just not been able to get it done. It’s not for lack of effort or lack of trying. We’ll just do the best we can, and we’ll have a good time and try to put on a good show for the fans.”
Leah Pruett made an impressive run of 3.733 at 312.86 in her Pennzoil dragster as she looks to win at her sponsor’s race, while Don Schumacher Racing teammate Antron Brown, who has advanced to three straight finals, was third with a 3.749 at 325.22.
Coming off his first career win in just his fourth career start, Pro Stock rookie Glenn followed it up by earning his first career No. 1 qualifier on Saturday, going 6.549 at 210.01 in his RAD Torque Systems Chevy Camaro. Glenn and his KB Racing teammate, points leader Greg Anderson, both ran 6.549 in the first session, but Glenn took the top spot with a faster run. It snapped Anderson’s string of four straight No. 1 qualifiers to open the 2021 season and continued Glenn’s incredible momentum early in his rookie campaign. Glenn also announced on Saturday he will be racing the full 2021 Pro Stock season.
“Momentum is helping out a lot,” Glenn said. “They got the car figured out for Sunday in Charlotte after all the changes we made and this right here shows how happy this car is right now. It couldn’t have made a nicer run. This car feels awesome and I can’t wait to take it into Sunday. I’m just so excited and I’m ready to race.”
Glenn will open eliminations against Cristian Cuadra. Anderson made the quickest run in the second qualifying session in his HendrickCars.com Camaro and is after his third win this season. KB Racing made it a clean sweep in the top three positions, as Kyle Koretsky followed after going 6.552 at 208.68.
Eliminations at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil begin at 11 a.m. CT on Sunday.
BAYTOWN, Texas — Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the 34th annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park powered by Pennzoil, the fifth 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, 3.727 seconds, 326.48 mph vs. 14. Mitch King, 12.120, 75.09; 2. Leah Pruett, 3.733, 312.86 vs. 13. Justin Ashley, 8.329, 83.12; 3. Antron Brown, 3.749, 325.22 vs. 12. Lee Callaway, 7.030, 97.95; 4. Mike Salinas, 3.755, 326.32 vs. 11. Billy Torrence, 6.629, 132.19; 5. Clay Millican, 3.777, 302.89 vs. 10. Arthur Allen, 6.539, 96.31; 6. Brittany Force, 4.039, 215.96 vs. 9. Doug Kalitta, 4.548, 168.68; 7. Shawn Langdon, 4.407, 179.92 vs. 8. Josh Hart, 4.537, 170.26.
Funny Car — 1. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.908, 331.53 vs. 16. Jim Campbell, Dodge Charger, 7.603, 83.55; 2. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.912, 307.44 vs. 15. Todd Simpson, Chevy Camaro, 5.712, 125.16; 3. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.941, 315.42 vs. 14. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.133, 250.13; 4. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.943, 323.12 vs. 13. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 4.072, 312.21; 5. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.954, 324.05 vs. 12. Bobby Bode, Mustang, 4.030, 313.58; 6. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.961, 324.12 vs. 11. Chad Green, Mustang, 4.011, 323.81; 7. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.975, 319.07 vs. 10. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 4.009, 314.46; 8. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.994, 322.58 vs. 9. John Force, Camaro, 4.000, 275.84.
Pro Stock — 1. Dallas Glenn, Chevy Camaro, 6.549, 210.01 vs. 16. Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.640, 208.52; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.549, 208.97 vs. 15. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Mustang, 6.621, 208.46; 3. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.552, 208.68 vs. 14. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.602, 209.26; 4. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.554, 210.14 vs. 13. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.595, 208.62; 5. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.566, 210.41 vs. 12. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.591, 204.88; 6. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.567, 209.69 vs. 11. Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.580, 209.36; 7. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.570, 208.97 vs. 10. Bruno Massel, Camaro, 6.574, 209.69; 8. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.570, 208.84 vs. 9. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.571, 209.01.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Fernando Cuadra, 6.684, 207.53; 18. Shane Tucker, 6.788, 204.20; 19. John Callahan, 7.125, 197.88; 20. Alan Prusiensky, 7.304, 202.76.