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The latest update as of October 30, 2021

Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals logo

We've got a huge batch of photos from yesterday's first qualifying session at Las Vegas. Here's the first few pics, featuring the top qualifiers in the PRO and PRO Sportsman categories. We've got much more to post but it's going to be tomorrow before we can get caught up. In the meantime, enjoy these "appetizers".

Greg Anderson - 'Hendricks Cars' -PRO --- Kyle Koretsky - 'Lucas Oil' - PRO

(LEFT) The Pro Stock points leader, Greg Anderson laid down a hard burnout before his qualifying pass, but his 6.670 - 205.32 wasn't quite good enough to take the #1 position - as he has done so often this season.

(RIGHT) Holding down the top spot on the ladder with an earlier pass was one of the "young guns" in the class, Kyle 'Kid Kaos' Koretsky as he carded the quickest e.t. of the session, with a 6.667 - 205.10 coming up on the scoreboards.

Alexis DeJoria - 'Bandero Tequila' - FC --- John Force - 'Peak' - FC

(LEFT) After a slow start to the season and some indifferent results in the first four races of the countdown (three 1st round losses and one semifinal), the "Bandero Tequila" team of Alexis DeJoria and Del Worsham picked up the pace with a win at the last race on the tour (Dallas) and set the early pace here with a 3.889 - 327.03 to hold the #1 spot going into Saturday's final two qualifying sessions.

(RIGHT) Still hanging in there in the championship hunt, only 101 points behind leader Ron Capps, is the 'ol' truck driver' John Force, wearing a throwback logo to his early days in Funny Car with a "Brute Force" decal on the car. He joined the 3-second gang with a second best of the session 3.902 - 328.54, showing he was ready to rumble.

Brittany Force - 'Monster Energy' - TF --- Brittany Force - 'Monster Energy' - TF

Any guesses as to who's the low qualifier in Top Fuel? Of course it's Brittany Force as crew chief David Grubnic tuned her to another "Monster" run, as she cranked out another #1 at 3.693, coupled with a huge speed of 330.41 mph to take the provisional pole for the umpteenth time in 2021.

Chris Marshall - 'Disturbed Racing' - TA/FC --- Doug Gordon - 'Beta Cycles' TA/FC

(LEFT) Seldom seen on the NHRA scene this year is Oregon's Chris Marshall, but he made his presence known at The Strip in a real hurry - like in 5.504 seconds at 265.01 mph. This was only his fourth NHRA race of 2021, following two regional races - both wins - and a semifinal finish at the U.S. Nationals. Like he has for the past few seasons, he's a real threat to the full-time competitors.

(RIGHT) Speaking of competitors, here's the Top Alcohol Funny Car points leader, Doug Gordon who staked his claim for a final round finish this weekend by opening his race with a very solid 5.541 - 265.17 to slot into the #3 position. However, lurking just one spot behind him on the ladder is the only racer with a chance to overtake him for the national championship is Greg Bellemeur of the 'Killer B's' team.

Kim Parker - 'Carstar' - A/FD --- Mike Coughlin - 'McPhillips Racing' - A/FD

(LEFT) No, it's not Matt Cummings or Rich McPhillips (Jr. or Sr.) in the seat, but in the latest driver swap for the McPhillips team, Mike Coughlin made his national event debut in A/Fuel Dragster. He made quite an impression too, clocking 5.240 - 271.95 to take the top rung on the ladder going into Saturday's final qualifying session.

(RIGHT) Finally getting the bugs out of the car after nearly two years of running in the 5.30's and slower, Kim Parker pushed the "CarStar" entry to a #4 qualifying 5.305 - 266.126. It wasn't everything they wanted, but definitely a step in the right direction for a team that ran as quick as 5.153 three years ago.

Here's all the pictures from Friday's qualifying, starting with a couple of miscellaneous pics then going straight into Top Alcohol qualifying.

1400 HP Mustang --- 200 MPH Electric Dragster

TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR - Qualifying Session #1

Steve Gasparelli - TA/FC --- Don Hudson - 'DHM' - TA/FC

(LEFT) Making only his second appearance since 2019, and the first of this season, So-Cal veteran Steve Gasparelli quickly blew the dust off his combination to the tune of 5.604 - 254.14 on his solo run to stake his climb for the top qualifying spot.

(RIGHT) Similarly to Gasparelli, the seldom-seen Don Hudson made his first pass of the year and apparently was so anxious to get going that he left the line before the tree was activated, negating what looked like a good pass.

Ray Martin - 'IVAT' - TA/FC --- Mike Doushgounian - 'Pro-Cal' - TA/FC

(LEFT) After a brief foray into the world of Nitro Funny Car racing at the 68-car Funny Car Chaos event in Texas, Alaskan Ray Martin hopped back into his "IVAT" sponsored car, and had a decent start to his weekend, with a 5.755 - 244.34 pass on the scoreboard.

(RIGHT) With backing from "Pro-Cal" (Truck & Equipment), Mike Doushgounian was looking for his first national event round win in nearly two years and made a move in that direction with an opening lap of 5.686 - 257.53 to take over the #2 spot on the ladder... with some real hitters still waiting to run.

Terry Ruckman - 'Ruckman Bros.' - TA/FC --- Annie Whiteley - 'J&A Services' - TA/FC

(LEFT) Coming down from the high country of Colorado, the "Ruckman Brothers" entry, driven by Steve Ruckman once again showed that you don't need a big crew (even though it certainly helps!) to be competitive as they put down a 5.661 - 262.18 on their first pass.

(RIGHT) Running in the next pair, Annie Whiteley pushed the "J&A Services" Camaro to an even better 5.604 - 263.41 for top speed so far, and the #3 position on the ladder.

Nick Januik - 'Plan B' - TA/FC --- Bob McCosh - TA/FC

(LEFT) Sporting a plain black "incognito" look, Las Vegas resident Nick Januik motivated the "Plan B" entry to a decent, but slightly off-pace 5.664 - 259.06 to move comfortably into the middle of the field.

(RIGHT) Coming all the way west from Missouri, Bob McCosh was looking to recapture the #3 spot in the national standings with Las Vegas being his final choice to do so. He made a good start to his race with a solid 5.584 - 263.46 (new top speed) to bump Whiteley out of the #3 spot in the field and show that he was ready to run hard at The Strip.

Doug Gordon - 'Beta Motorcycles' - TA/FC --- Doug Gordon - 'Beta Motorcycles' - TA/FC

The last pair down the track in the first qualifying session were the #1 & #2 in the national standings, this year and last. With strong sponsorship help from "BETA Motorcycles", the Gordon team was able to capture their first national championship in 2020, and fell just short of repeating this year against the totally formidable "Killer B's" of Bartone, Boggs & Bellemeur. Doug Gordon rolled the dice on his first pass of the Dodge//SRT Nationals by putting down a very good 5.451 - 265.17, good for #3 on the initial list and top speed - so far - of the meet. In the other lane (not shown) was Sean Bellemeur, trailing slightly with a 5.565 - 263.15 that placed him #4 in the field.

Chris Marshall & wife - TA/FC

Saving the best (run and back-up assistant) for last, we've got Chris Marshall and the "Disturbed" car backing up before unloading a bomb on the field with a 5.504 - 265.01 to show that he hadn't lost anything by being off the NHRA circuit for most of the season, while competing in the Mid-West Drag Racing Series events.

TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER - Qualifying Session #1

Ron Anderson - 'Dr. Lip Bang' - A/FD --- Mike Austin - 'LAD Automotive' - B/AD

(LEFT) Switching to the long skinny cars, the California A/Fuel car of Ron Anderson, with a rather unique sponsor "Dr. Lip Bang", launches to a decent opening effort of 5.656 - 251.11. His team's been searching for the right tuneup after running a career best 5.306 at the 2019 Auto Club Finals, but haven't been close to that number since then.

(RIGHT) Still fighting the good fight with a blown alky combination, Mike Austin burned out hard in the "LAD Automotive" entry, before clocking in at 5.457 - 262.85 for temporary possession of the #3 spot in the order. He's still looking to come all the way back from his horrendous car-destroying crash at Pomona nine years ago and this pass is one more step in the right direction.

Kim Parker - 'Carstar' - A/FD --- Casey Grisel - 'Darien & Grisel' - A/FD

(LEFT) Running alongside Austin was fellow Northwesterner Kim Parker as she pushed her "Carstar" backed A/Fuel car to a very good 5.305 - 266.16 opening lap, good for #2 in the field.

(RIGHT) Leaving in the usual cloud of fuel out the pipes, the next A/FD to make their mark was Casey Grisel in the Jerry Darien-tuned entry, as he recovered from early tire shake to post a 5.457 - 260.16 to put himself solidly in the field.

Joey Severance - 'J&A Services' - B/AD --- Shawn Cowie - 'Mundie's Towing' - B/AD

(LEFT) The quickest blown alcohol car in history, with a 5.121 at this event in 2019, the "J&A Services" sponsored car of Joey Severance made a rather slow, by his standards, opening statement with a 5.405 - 266.64 time.

(RIGHT) His arch-rival, Shawn Cowie in the Norm Grimes-tuned "Mundie's Towing" B/AD easily surpassed Severance's numbers with a #2 qualifying 5.257 - 275.90 to show that the blown cars could run well in the thin-ish air (3675 ft adjusted altitude) at The Strip. The only driver ahead of Cowie on the list was the red-hot McPhillips Racing entry of Mike Coughlin with a 5.242 earlier in the session. The only faster car was Rachel Meyer as she closed the session with a 5.263 - 280.63 to land in the #3 position behind Cowie.

PRO MOD - Qualifying Session #1

With the E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod championship decided at Bristol earlier in the month, there was no drama in the making at this final event of their season. The new champion Jose Gonzalez didn't even enter this race and the racers in attendance were well short of the 16-car field, with just 11 cars in the pits.

Dimitry Samorukov - PM --- Jim Whiteley - 'J&A Services' - PM

(LEFT) Making his Pro Mod debut in North America was Russian Dimitry Samorukov and he put down a workmanlike effort of 6.251 - 232.47 to start his weekend.

(RIGHT) Former two-time Top Alcohol Dragster national champion Jim Whiteley, the "J" in "J&A Services" bannered on the side of their bright white Camaro, moved into Pro Mod eight years ago and is still looking to get back to the winners after taking the event trophy at Houston's spring race in 2018. His first pass at this race ended quickly with massive tire shake and a coasting 9.372 - 101.02 clocking.

Mike Salinas - 'Scrappers Racing' - PM --- Lyle Barnett - 'Elite Performance' - PM

(LEFT) In the other lane against Whiteley was Mike Salinas, still working to perfect the performance of his "Scrappers Racing" Camaro. He took an early top qualifying spot - very provisionally - with a solid 5.833 - 244.69 to open his event scorecard.

(RIGHT) Coming into this race on a bit of a high after winning his first national event at the Dallas race, Georgia's Lyle Barnett, in one of the fleet of "Elite Performance" cars, didn't get very far after a nice wheels-up launch, shaking shortly after and shutting off to a 11.081 - 77.12.

Khalid alBalooshi - 'Bahrain 1' - PM --- Mike Castellana - 'AAP' - PM

(LEFT) Longtime competitor in the class, Khalid alBalooshi in a familiar looking "Bahrain 1" entry opened his account with a strong 5.889 - 243.28 that gave the racers left in the lanes something to aim for.

(RIGHT) All the way out from New York state, veteran Mike Castellana in the all-black "AAP" entry laid down a hard burnout before laying down an even harder run, stopping the timers at 5.819 - 246.12 to top the field - to that point.

Doug Winters - 'Stinar' - PM --- J.R. Gray - 'Gray Contracting' - PM

(LEFT) In the lane next to Castellana was Doug Winters in his unique Chevelle-bodied "Stinar" with a wild paint scheme and an injector well above the roofline. Despite some decent early incrementals, Winters was forced to shut off early to a 6.161 - 172.56.

(RIGHT) Winner of the previous event in Bristol, and packing some serious horsepower, South Carolina's J.R. Gray Jr. was bitten by the same bug that afflicted half of the field, as tire shake held him to a coasting 9.588 - 94.77 clocking.

Justin Bond - 'Bahrain 1' - PM --- Brandon Snider - 'J&A Services' - PM

(LEFT) The lone Canadian in this field, Mission BC's Justin Bond in another of the omnipresent "Bahrain 1" team cars, made a strong attempt to take over the pole, but fell short as his 5.873 - 243.68 slotted in directly behind Castellana's earlier 5.819 low e.t. pass. In case you're wondering why the wrap on Bond's car isn't primarily red, it's because they had to replace his original ride after a nasty crash at Brainerd earlier in the season.

(RIGHT) In the last pair of the round, Brandon Snider in the third "J&A Services" car, stayed close to outgoing national champion Stevie "Fast" Jackson (not shown) and clocked a very good 5.872 - 245.09 to finish the round in the #4 position.


It was finally time to crank up the volume as the first blown fuel cars, the Funny Cars, came up for their first qualifying session. With 18 cars in the pits, a full field was guaranteed, with almost every one of them capable of running in the 3-second zone. The points chase was still very much up for grabs, with eight drivers still in at least mathematical contention for the season championship coming into this event. As always, the lower ranked (points-wise) cars were out first, and as the lanes emptied, the top racers got to run later in the session.

Steven Densham - 'MidWest' - FC --- Chris Morel - 'Litle City Charger' - FC

(LEFT) Kicking things off for the fuel racers was a second generation So-Cal pilot, Steven Densham, with the "Midwest" backed entry. He was making only his fourth start of the season and wanted to rebound from two DNQ's out of his three previous races, but one dead cylinder limited him to a 4.338 - 285.59 on this attempt.

(RIGHT) Running alongside Densham was the "Little City Charger" of Reno, NV's Chris Morel. With a real retro metalflake paint scheme, the car certainly stood out in one of his infrequent appearances on the tour. He kept the pedal down past the 660' mark, then shut off to a 4.335 - 248.43 clocking.

Tony Jurado - 'Pure Crop 1' - FC --- Tony Jurado - 'Pure Crop 1' - FC

It's a two-fer here, with newcomer Tony Jurado in his newly sponsored "Pure Crop 1" entry shown burning out (LEFT), then launching (RIGHT). Since making the leap from Nitro Nostalgia Funny Car at mid-season, Jurado had progressed quickly and his first run at The Strip showed an amazing leap in performance, with career bests - by a BUNCH - of 3.986 - 318.17. Crew chief Jason Bunker certainly showed that they have a good handle on a Big Show tuneup.

Jeff Diehl - 'RATT' - FC --- Bobby Bode - 'Ar-Bee' - FC

(LEFT) Running alongside Jurado was veteran Jeff "The Surfer" Diehl who had only two first round runnerups and two DNQ's on his season scorecard to this point. His first attempt at Las Vegas in the "RATT" sponsored Camry ended early as he shutoff to a decent 4.320 - 216.03 to start his weekend.

(RIGHT) Another of the new crop of "young guns" making waves in the sport was Illinois' Bobby Bode III in the "Ar-Bee" Mustang as he made his first pass in just his 11th career race in Funny Car. It didn't last long as he was up in smoke instantly and coasted to a 13-second clocking.

Terry Haddock - 'Circle Racing Wheels - FC --- Terry Haddock - 'Circle Racing Wheels - FC

Another "two for one" as we get to see Terry "Never Quit" Haddock burn out, then launch in his "Circle Racing Wheels" entry. You may be wondering why his run looks like a second burnout, with a little sideways movement for good measure. It was an instantly up-in-smoke and heading for the centerline pass, with a 9-second result.

Chad Green - 'Bond-Coat' - FC --- Tim Wilkerson - 'Levi, Ray & Shoup' - FC

(LEFT) The part-time Pro Mod, part-time Funny Car competitor, Chad Green, in his "Bond Coat" car, running under the Team Wilkerson banner, left hard but lifted early to a 4.122 - 256.60. There wasn't anything obviously wrong with the car but it did show some promise for Saturday's final two qualifying sessions.

(RIGHT) In the Wilkerson flagship, the LRS" Mustang wheeled by Tim Wilkerson warmed up the tires here before laying down the best run of the day - to that point - with a very good 3.948 - 324.67 to take the provisional pole position.

Jim Campbell - 'KGC Construction' - FC --- Robert Hight - 'Auto Club' - FC

(LEFT) Running beside Wilkerson in that pairing, the Jim Dunn Racing entry driven by Jim Campbell left the line cleanly but the power ran out early as he shut off to a 7.204 - 84.04 that placed him eighth of the first ten cars down the track.

(RIGHT) In the next pair, a team that was looking for something - anything - good to come their way was the "AAA" car of Robert Hight. After entering the championship countdown in the sixth position, they quickly dropped to #7 and seemed stuck on that rung despite back-to-back semifinal finishes coming into Las Vegas. His first shot at qualifying didn't produce the desired results as he lost traction early and could only produce a 4.660 - 174.12 timeslip.

Alexis DeJoria - 'Bandero Tequila' - FC --- Alexis DeJoria - 'Bandero Tequila' - FC

After a strong burnout, Alexis DeJoria had an equally strong leave in her "Bandero Premium Tequila" Camry enroute to the first 3.80 pass of the session. She jumped to the top of the ladder with an excellent 3.896- 327.03 to show that her win at the last race (Bristol) wasn't a mirage and she was going to be a serious contender for back-to-back event wins.

Bob Tasca III - 'Motorcraft' - FC --- Cruz Pedregon - 'Snap-On' - FC

(LEFT) In the next pair, the "Motorcraft" Mustang of East Coaster Bob Tasca III nearly matched DeJoria's numbers, slotting in right behind her with a 3.935 - 329.34 for #2 on the list and a new Top Speed of the meet. After starting the countdown in the #3 position, Tasca fell to #8 after first round losses at the first two races in the countdown, before rebounding to move up to the #6 spot, and was certainly hoping to keep climbing in the standings here.

(RIGHT) Another racer that was moving in the right direction was the resurgent Cruz Pedregon in his familiar "Snap-On" entry, as he had nine round wins in the previous five races to his credit and had moved up the list to #5 in the points coming into this event. He didn't start well however, smoking the tires right away and clicking it off to a 8.401 - 87.07 to start his weekend on a rather sour note.

John Force - 'Peak' - FC --- John Force - 'Peak' - FC

With his championship hopes fading, as he had dropped from the second spot entering the countdown to #4 coming into the final two races of the season, John 'Brute' Force needed to get his "PEAK Performance" Chevy performing at it's peak to have a chance to get back into the championship chase. He started strongly with a 3.902 - 328.54 to move into the #2 spot as the session drew to a close.

Matt Hagan - 'Direct Connection' - FC --- Matt Hagan - 'Direct Connection' - FC

The last pair of the round featured Matt Hagan in the "Direct Connection" Dodge Charger 'Hellcat', who was on a bit of a hot streak with two wins and a runnerup in the first five races of the countdown. He kept the beat going, pounding out a good 3.931 - 322.34 that landed him #4 on the ladder.

Ron Capps - 'Pennzoil' - FC

Running beside Hagan was points leader Ron Capps in the "NAPA Auto Parts" Dodge and he had less luck than Hagan, carding only an early shutoff 3.973 - 304.60 to sit well down the qualifying list in the #7 position.

The first session of Funny Car qualifying ended with Alexis Dejoria on top with a 3.896, Cruz Pedregon in the bump spot at 8.401, eight cars in the 3-second zone, and all 18 cars in attendance getting a timeslip. As a bonus, there were no oildowns or any other delays in a mostly pretty good round of Nitro Funny Car qualifying. Up next: Top Fuel cars.


Brandon Welch - 'Max Mileage' - TF --- Rob Passey - 'Seven23 Entrprises' - TF

(LEFT) After a strong debut peformance at last year's Winternationals with a 3.841 in qualifying, Brandon Welch had an eminently forgettable experience at this year's edition. He tapped the guardwall right off the starting line in his first qualifying attempt, ran a 5-second time on his second, and his final shot at making the field ended in a puddle of spilled fuel after the burnout. This time out, he made a strong statement with a solid 3.940 - 260.27 that ended early when he headed for the centerline. Unfortunately, he crossed the line before the 1320' mark and he was penalized five points for the infraction.

(RIGHT) Still trying to get something going in the tuneup department, Utah's Rob Passey made a good burnout in his clean-looking "Seven23 Enterprises" car, but in what might have been a planned move, shut off early to a 4.510 - 233.64 to at least put a number on the board. Passey started in Top Fuel in 2001, but sadly is still looking for his first round win, as even qualifying has been a hit - or more often than not - miss proposition.

Troy Buff - 'BME' - TF --- Cameron Ferre - 'EMPI' - TF

(LEFT) After Bill Miller announced he was permanently parking his Top Fuel operation a few years ago ... surprise, surprise... they're baaack. With Troy Buff still wheeling the "BME" car, they've made only sporadic appearances and only at Las Vegas. This first pass of the weekend ended very quickly as he lost traction right at the starting line and coasted to a 6.694 - 87.16 timeslip.

(RIGHT) It's been quite a ride for Cameron Ferre over the last two seasons, bouncing from the Terry Haddock T/F car, to a few rides in the Worsham Family car, then joining up with the Paton Family operation earlier this month at Bristol. That first event together at the Thunder Valley Nationals, with John Stewart tuning, was a bit of a disaster with their first qualifying run thrown out due to a timing malfunction. It was followed by an up-in-smoke 11-second pass, then an early shutoff 4.438 - 176.81 in the first round of eliminations. They came into Vegas looking for serious improvement and they found it right away with a career best for Ferre at 3.851 - 318.39 right out of the trailer.

Alex Laughlin - 'Havoline' - TF --- Tripp Tatum - 'TT Racing' - TF

(LEFT) After starting the season in Pro Stock, moving to Pro Mod, back to Pro Stock, then into Top Fuel, 2021 has been a real roller coaster of a year for Alex Laughlin. With the help of major sponsor "Havoline", he's made a quick progression from never sitting in a T/F'er until five days before qualifying started at Denver in July, to running regularly in the 3.70's almost right away. He opened his account at The Strip with a solid, if unspectacular, 3.809 - 318.34 to take a temporary #1 with 11 cars still waiting to run.

(RIGHT) Another relative newcomer to Top Fuel is Tripp Tatum III, who's been on the fringes of the class for a number of years, but hadn't run since early 2017 until he returned at the U.S. Nationals in September. He followed up his 3.87 best at Indy, with a very good 3.73 at St. Louis, then went up in smoke at the hit here on his first attempt and shut off to a 10.224 - 87.48 clocking. With tuning assistance from the CAPCO braintrust, who also assembled the car, it won't take long for him to get it dialled in at this event.

Josh Hart - 'R+L Carriers' - TF --- Shawn Langdon - 'CMR Roofing' - TF

(LEFT) It's been quite a first season in Top Fuel for Florida's Josh Hart and his first visit to The Strip in the "R & L Carriers" car marked his 13th race of a 2021 that saw two trips to the Winners Circle (Gainesville and Charlotte). With his scheduled partner electing to sit in the pits, Hart ran by himself and put down good numbers until half track before losing traction and clicking it to a 3.862 - 276.07 opening salvo.

(RIGHT) When the championship countdown started, Shawn Langdon sat in the #5 position, well within striking distance of the points leader. But four straight ' first round exits saw the "DHL - CMR" team drop to #9 in the standings coming into the last two events of the season. Things didn't get better on his first qualifier as it ran into trouble before the 660' mark and slowed Shawn to a 3.952 - 255.15 to leave him near the middle of the pack.

Doug Kalitta - 'MAC Tools' - TF --- Antron Brown - 'Matco Tools' - TF

(LEFT) Langdon's teammate Doug Kalitta was having an even worse season as the "MAC Tools" team had just one round win in the past five races coming into this one. Coupled with the worst oildown totals in the entire association, with 105 points lost via that route, the team was hoping just to survive until the end of the season. When he launched, one cylinder stayed behind and that was it; he promptly shut off and limped to a 6.853 - 97.05 clocking.

(RIGHT) The other tool company backed team, the "Matco Tools" machine driven by Antron Brown was doing just as badly during the countdown (one round win in five races), but he managed to go a little further being losing traction and slowing to a 5.336 - 135.69 to slip into a very temporary #8 position on the ladder.

Leah Pruett - 'Direct Connection' - TF --- Billy Torrence - 'Capco Contractors' - TF

(LEFT) Things had to improve as the first 11 cars had only produced one 3.70 (Clay Millican), three 3.80's and a pair of 3.90's, plus a bunch of 4-5-6 second and slower runs. The newly wrapped "Direct Connection" dragster of Leah Pruett looked primed to improve those mediocre stats and she ran hard until the tires started to lose their grip on the top end as she stopped the timers with a 3.843 - 310.55, good enough for the #3 spot.

(RIGHT) The first of the two-car "CAPCO Contractors" team, Billy Torrence made a huge jump in the point standings when the countdown started, winning the first race at Reading to move from #8 to #3. Since then he'd made it to the second round of eliminations four times in a row to come into this event in fifth place. On this first run he posted some good early incrementals before clicking it off at the 660' mark and crossing the finish line with a 4.055 - 245.99 timeslip.

Justin Ashley - 'Vita-C Shot' - TF --- Mike Salinas - 'Scrappers Racing' - TF

(LEFT) The second to last pair saw the young gun, Mike Ashley, this week bannering "Vita-C Shot" come in with 12 round wins during the countdown, which included one win (Dallas), and sitting in the #4 spot, with a chance to contend for the championship. He needed a good weekend here but his opening run ended early in a cloud of tire smoke and a 6.027 - 103.17 showing on the scoreboard.

(RIGHT) Running in the lane next to Ashley was Mike Salinas in his all-black "Scrappers Racing" entry, fresh off a win at the last race (Bristol) and sitting in the #3 position, but 150 points in arrears of the points leader and running out of opportunities to close the gap. He made a good pass in this first session, stopping the timers with a #2 qualifying 3.766 - 321.12 to start on a positive note.

Steve Torrence - 'Capco Contractors' - TF --- Brittany Force - 'Monster Energy' - TF

(LEFT) The final pair featured the top two racers in the points standings, with the points leader Steve Torrence in his "CAPCO Contractors" car on quite a roll. He made it to the final round at the three previous events, winning one of them, after two semifinal finishes to start the countdown. His total of 14 round wins in those five races topped everyone and he was looking to continue turning on winlights at The Strip. His first pass was solid, but a 3.771 - 325.92 trailed the car in the other lane this time.

(RIGHT) That other lane was occupied by Brittany Force in the "Monster Energy" car and she blitzed the field with low e.t. and top speed of the first session. Her 3.693 - 333.41 delivered a major statement to the other racers and showed once again just how dominating the car, driver, and team can be in qualifying. Unfortunately, eliminations have not always been as kind to them, but they came into Vegas just 73 points behind Steve Torrence and determined to close or erase that margin.

Brittany Force - 'Monster Energy' - TF --- Brittany Force - 'Monster Energy' - TF

The two launch pictures show just hard the car leaves the starting line, with an .839 time to 60' (second only to Clay Millican's .837), then a best in class - by far - 2.106 to the 330' mark. Her 660' numbers were awe-inspiring, reaching that point in less than 3 seconds at over 290 mph with times of 2.971 - 292.65. It wasn't all that long ago that running 292 mph to the quarter-mile (1320') was quite impressive, but to do it in half the distance is almost mind boggling. Unless you've stood at the guardwall and experienced them launch - which always feels like a punch in the face - then you can appreciate just how powerful they are and the awesome feats they are capable of.

TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR - Qualifying Session Two

Ray Martin - 'Ivat Coatings' - TA/FC --- Jake Guadagnolo - 'M7 Performance' - TA/FC

(LEFT) Sitting safely in the #12 spot on the ladder, with only 17 cars in the pits, Ray Martin dialled in some more clutch and made an impressive wheels-up launch that descended into serious tire shake, causing him to abort the run. The verdict: 8.493 - 117.51 and no improvement going into the final qualifying session on Saturday.

(RIGHT) After a respectable national event debut earlier in the day (6.121 - 238.34), Jake Guadagnolo got loose early and took out the half track timing blocks, DQ'ing the run and leaving him in the #15 spot.

Nick Januik - 'Plan B' - TA/FC --- Terry Ruckman - 'Ruckman Brothers' - TA/FC

(LEFT) Another wheels-up leave, more tire shake, as Nick Januik's aptly-named "Plan B" showed that maybe a slightly different plan might be in order. His timeslip didn't come close to his first session 5.664, and the 9-second 90-mph numbers didn't bring any joy as he stayed in the #9 spot.

(RIGHT) Changing the tuneup and making the best run of the session to this point was Terry Ruckman as he picked up three hundredths from his earlier run, clocking a good 5.633 - 263.46 that helped him move... backward(?) as he dropped from #8 to #9, courtesy of the car in the other lane (see below).

Steve Macklyn - 'B&J Transmissions' - TA/FC --- Kris Hool - 'C-Tech Manufacturing' - TA/FC

(LEFT) That "other car" was the "B&J Transmissions" backed High Country racer Steven Macklyn, attending his first national event since last year's October Vegas race. He made a big jump forward from his first round 5.91, and climbed all the way to #8 on the ladder with a solid 5.620 - 258.96, his best of the year.

(RIGHT) Also moving in the right direction was Kris Hool as he pushed the "C-TECH" car to a slight improvement (from a 5.666) to a 5.623 - 259.91 which moved him up the charts from #11 to #9 with one chance remaining to move into the top half of the field.

Sean Bellemeur - 'Hussey Performance' - TA/FC --- Shane Westerfield - 'Rick Jackson Motorsports' - 

(LEFT) Moving into the faster cars as the session wound down, the "Hussey Performance" car, with Sean Bellemeur driving, wanted to get to the top of the ladder from his #4 spot, but fell just short as his great 5.509 - 261.93 wasn't quite enough to get past Chris Marshall's low e.t. 5.504 from the first round of qualifying.

(RIGHT) Sitting one spot in front of Bellemeur coming into the session, in the #3 position, Shane Westerfield fell back a notch to #4 as his 5.571 - 263.56 just half a tenth slower than his earlier pass, but just not quite good enough.

--- Briana Marshall --- Chris Marshall - 'Disturbed Racing' - TA/FC

It's Chris Marshall's lovely reverse gear assistant, his wife Briana, in the (LEFT) photo, waiting for him to come back closer to the starting line, and on the (RIGHT) the "Disturbed" Camaro leaving hard with the wheels up and charging to a .... serious bout of tire shake and an 8-second result as he fell back one spot to #2 on the qualifying list. Taking over the top spot was current champion Doug Gordon (not shown) who pounded out a great 5.502 - 265.69 to set the pace going into tomorrow's final qualifying session.

TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER - Qualifying Session Two

Gord Gingles - 'Doucette Racing' - A/FD --- Chris Demke - 'Penn-Rite' - B/AD

(LEFT) Making his first appearance at an NHRA event in two years, Winnipeg, Manitoba's Gord Gingles in the Doug Doucette car made his second attempt to get down The Strip after his first session fuel leak fiasco. This time he got to the finish line, under power, but a 5.469 - 261.42 was only good enough for the #13 position.

(RIGHT) After sitting out almost all of the 2020 season, the "Peen-Rite" team came back this year to run some West Coast races, with this being their third national event of the season. Driver Chris Demke didn't get very far on his first attempt (9-second pass), but this time put down a competitive run that stopped the clocks at 5.437 - 268.87 to move up to the #12 spot.

Mike Quayle - A/FD --- Mike Burns - 'Let's Roll Racing' - A/FD

(LEFT) The third Canadian car in the field, that of Red Deer, Alberta's Mike Quayle, improved a full second over his first effort of 8.483, but his 7.249 - 121.73 in this session still left him well outside the field in 20th spot. With the bump spot already down to a 5.457 there was still much work to be done for Quayle with just one qualifying session remaining.

(RIGHT) Going backwards instead of moving up was Arizona's Mike Burns as the "Let's Roll" car had almost instant traction problems as evidenced by his 14-second 50-mph result. That dropped him from #21 to #22 on the list.

Jackie Fricke - 'Finke Equipment' - A/FD --- Casey Grisel - 'Darien & Grisel' - A/FD

(LEFT) East Coast hitter, Jackie Fricke in the "Finke Equipment" A/Fuel dragster carded a decent 5.484 - 270.00 in her first qualifier, but it was already out of the field when she came up for her second shot. This one went more according to form as a 5.270 - 275.73 boosted her a dozen spots from #17 all the way to #5 in the field.

(RIGHT) The next car out, running a solo as several racers elected to sit out the session, was Casey Grisel in the Jerry Darien car and he made a good move, getting off the bump spot and going all the way up the sheet to #8 with a strong 5.347 - 265.38 run.

Duane Shields - 'Muscle Milk' - A/FD --- Kim Parker - 'Carstar' - A/FD

(LEFT) Making one of his infrequent appearances at what should be his home track, Boulder City, NV's Duane Shields, was back in the "Muscle Milk" A/FD after letting young protege Madison Payne take over driving duties for five national events in 2021. Duane's first pass was a decent 5.391, but this time a much better 5.329 - 269.73 came up on the boards, moving him near the top half of the show into the #9 spot.

(RIGHT) Coming into this session in the #4 spot, courtesy of her earlier 5.305 pass, but falling to #7 before starting the car, Kim Parker made it back up the ladder, this time to #2 with a very good 5.249 - 265.17 to show that she was ready to run with the fast guys and girls.

Julie Nataas - 'OTG' - A/FD --- Shawn Cowie - 'Mundie's Towing' - B/AD

(LEFT) Running alongside her teammate and possible new national champion, Rachel Meyer (not shown), was Julie Nataas in the other "Meyer Racing" A/Fuel car. Her first session 5.305 put her in #5 going into this round, but she was already down to #8 as she left the starting line. That changed when she crossed the finish line stripe, stopping the clocks at 5.275 - 269.24 as she moved up one notch to #7 on the ladder.

(RIGHT) In the final pair of the round, Canada's Shawn Cowie took a step backward as his 5.330 - 273.05 was nearly a tenth slower than his earlier 5.257 pass. He dropped from #2 at the start of the session to #4 at the end. It looked like tuner Norm Grimes had some work to do before tomorrow's final qualifier.

Mike Coughlin - 'McPhillips Racing' - A/FD --- 'Muy Caliente Racing' Jet Dragster

(LEFT) After an awesome debut peformance earlier in the day, clocking in at 5.242 to lead the field, Mike Coughlin had a impressive launch with big flames out of the headers, but it soon went south as he clicked it off to an 8-second time.

(RIGHT) No, it's not a new addition to the Top Alcohol class but the Muy Caliente Jet dragster was on hand to light up the night and put on a performance to close out the evening's entertainment.