The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series made its way to Las Vegas for the Dodge SRT NHRA Nationals over the past weekend. As many gathered to enjoy the race festivities in Las Vegas, the race was also a somber one. The NHRA family lost a member when 23-year-old Dylan Cromwell, a crew member with Jim Head Racing’s Funny Car team, was killed when a semi-truck jack knifed and broke through the center barrier on the freeway striking Cromwell’s truck head on just outside Indianapolis, Indiana on his way to the race. The teams and fans alike all paid their tribute to this amazing young man and reminded us all just how precious life is. With signs and memorial decals with pictures of Dylan on all the cars, the race went on in his memory.
Top Fuel’s Steve Torrence and those Capco boys from Texas reminded the field why they are three-time champions and inching closer to a fourth. Torrence powered his way through round one with a solid 3.751 @ 325 mph to end Jim Maroney’s day. Round two Torrence took down Tripp Tatum with another solid 3.736 @ 328 mph. In the semifinal round the 2020 NHRA Rookie of the Year Justin Ashley gave Torrence all he could handle. Ashley posted a solid 3.727 @ 331 mph but came up short as Torrence laid down the third quickest run of the day with a 3.688 @ 329 mph to advance to the final round. His final round opponent would be Mike Salinas in the Scrappers top fuel dragster. Salinas, showing signs of improvement all year, has put himself third in the championship hunt behind Brittany Force and Torrence. Salinas like Ashley before him gave Torrence all he could handle, running a 3.737 @ 314 mph but also came up short to Torrence’s 3.717 @ 329 mph.
The Funny Car class saw upset after upset in the opening round of eliminations. John Force who was tied for fourth in points was the first to fall victim, Force left the starting line and about 200 feet out his engine went silent and his opponent Funny Car newcomer Chris Morel made it to 400 feet before his engine went silent and both racers coasted to the finish line. JR Todd, third in points, was next to fall. Todd looked to be on a good run when at about 400 feet the car lost traction and all he could do was watch Paul Lee streak down the racing surface to the win. Matt Hagan who was one point behind the points leader Ron Capps would be the next to drop out. Hagan’s Dodge Funny Car dropped a cylinder as soon as he stomped the throttle losing over 1000 horsepower and part time racer Chad Green slipped by and cruised to the victory with a 4.009 @ 321 mph to Hagan’s 4.087 @ 316 mph. The day would belong to Cruz Pedregon who was tied with Force for fourth when entering the day. Pedregon a two-time series champion worked his way into a final round matchup with point leader Ron Capps.
Capps expanded his point lead over Hagan after Hagan’s untimely loss in the opening round. Capps was favored on paper to win, but that’s why they race it on the track. Capps hit the throttle and got to about 200 feet off the starting line when the engine let go into a fireball and all he could do was watch Pedregon work his way down the track to earn the victory.
In Pro Stock teams the Elite team gambled in qualifying to try to square off against points leader Greg Anderson to help give their teammate Erica Enders a chance to catch him in the points. Well the plan worked as Troy Coughlin Jr. took Anderson out in a hole shot win running a 6.668 @ 204 mph beating a quicker but losing 6.648 @ 205 mph. Enders did her job making her way to the final round to face Anderson’s team car in Dallas Glenn. However, Glenn ended her day with a 6.660 @ 204 mph to Enders’ 6.684 @ 203 mph to capture the win.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle Steve Johnson scored the win. Johnson’s last few races have been plagued with unique problems as he has had the best motorcycle in class over the past few weeks but odd problems kept him to third in points. In Dallas, TX the bike would not start on the starting line, at Charlotte, NC he was leading all the way down the track when the bike drifted over and took out the centerline block which is an automatic disqualification. He will head to the final race in second place.
The NHRA will move on to the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona for the Auto Club NHRA Finals, Nov. 11 through 14.