Gamble Pays Off for Torrence, Pedregon, and Glenn at NHRA’s 1000th Event

Photos Courtesy of NHRA Media 

At the NHRA’s 1000th event, the Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend three drivers would make the right gambles to both drive to victory and inch closer to a hunt for 2021 championship. Beginning with the King of Top Fuel, Steve Torrence, who inched closer to a fourth straight NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Top Fuel championship after taking down Mike Salinas in Sunday’s final round with a 3.71-second pass against Salinas 3.73-second attempt. While Torrence seems to have been sealing his way into yet another championship, Funny Car veteran Cruz Pedregon had to take a gamble on a series of folds to climb back into the hunt for a third NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship. Thanks to watching fellow contenders like Matt Hagan, third place J.R. Todd, and fourth-place John Force losing in their first rounds on Sunday and taking down Ron Capps in the final Funny Car round Pedregon’s gamble paid off, which has sent him from fifth to third place in the point standings in the 2021 Countdown to the Championship. Although Pro Stock rookie Dallas Glenn may not have a real chance at a championship this season, but this did not stop this talented driver from going on all in at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to earn a hard-fought victory against reigning world champion Erica Enders in the final of the Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas.

Top Fuel

Prior to inching closer to a fourth straight NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Top Fuel championship, Torrence took advantage of a great weekend start following a No. 2 qualifying position behind his rival Brittany Force. The King of Top Fuel followed this up with victories against Jim Maroney and Tripp Tatum with runs of 3.75 and 3.73 before Torrence’s crew chief Richard Hogan decided to take a gamble with a tweak that ultimately lowered the boom on Justin Ashley in the semifinals with a 3.68-second pass. Thanks to his final challenge taking down rival Brittany Force in Sunday’s semifinal round, Torrence would have an easy bet to make in Sunday’s final elimination round. Feeling confident as he lined up alongside Mike Salinas for his final weekend pass, Torrence and his Capco Contractors team were all abuzz as he took off and drove past his final challenge with a 3.71-second run to inch closer to a fourth straight NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Top Fuel championship.

“It was just a great weekend for us,” said Torrence. “You know Force’s crew chief David Grubnic is hammering everybody. So, I have that in the back of my mind, but you just go do what you do, and that is something that every one of the guys on my team are really good at – just staying focused on what’s underneath our awning. Brittany going out in the semis was an opportunity that we needed to capture, we needed to capitalize on that, and we were able to do it and that gave us a little bit of breathing room going into Pomona.”

Funny Car

Torrence was not the only driver to see a bit of gambling pay off at the Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals. Despite Cruz Pedregon’s Snap-on Tools/Socket To Cancer Charger started from the No. 7 spot in the field during qualifying, Sunday’s elimination round would give the Funny Car legend a second chance. As the sun shone on The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, Pedregon raced past Tony Jurado with a 3.94-second pass, Chris Morel – who upset John Force in round one – with a 3.90-second pass and tire-smoking Bob Tasca III in the semifinals with a 3.92-second pass to reach his 80th career final.

Although Pedregon, who is gunning for his first world championship since 2008, would have to line up against former world champion Ron Capps in Sunday’s final round, betting on continued elimination round success paid off as Capp’s effort to end Pedregons hopes for a victory ended early. When Capps NAPA Dodge backfired the blower at 300 feet, Pedregon would have to pedal his mount to keep it in his lane further downtrack, but nonetheless took the win light for his 42nd career win. Thanks to this victory, Pedregon made up significant ground, going from fifth place to third by winning his second race of the season.

“Coming into the race I think our championship chances were pretty dim, to be honest with you, because I just didn’t feel like the breaks were coming our way,” said Pedregon. “We were just losing some close races, and I thought, ‘Man, well, if we could just finish in the top five, I felt that was good, but after winning this weekend, yeah, hey, we’re, back in it.”

Pro Stock

Although Torrence and Pedregon now have better chances at a championship, Pro Stock Rookie of the Year contender Dallas Glenn came into Las Vegas to do nothing but win. Thanks to kicking off his weekend with a third-place qualifying start, Glenn continued his path to his latest victory by racing past Factory Stock champion Aaron Stanfield, Kenny Delco, and Mason McGaha before lining up alongside Erica Enders in Sunday’s final round. Although most were putting their chips on reigning world champion Enders, it was Glenn who went all in and cut a perfect .001 light, who was not exactly slacking with a .005 of her own. After that, horsepower decided the final with Glenn taking his KB Racing powered RAD Torque Systems Camaro to a 6.660-second pass to hold off Enders’ 6.684-second attempt.

“My goal for Pomona is to do the exact same job I did this weekend,” said Glenn. “If I can do that, I do not care about the Rookie of the Year. I just want to get as many race wins and road wins as I can. I’ll let everything else take care of itself.”

Congrats go out to these talented drivers! Stay tuned to RacingJunk.com as the final race of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series roars to life at the Auto Club NHRA Finals on November 11-14 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

About Ellen Richardson 491 Articles
Ellen Richardson is the author of Behind The Wheel for RacingJunk.com. This automotive sports junkie has a passion for telling an athlete's story while also covering various racing activities. Find out more about her at ellennrichardson.wordpress.com or follow Ellen on Twitter at @ellennrich or Instagram at elnrich33.

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