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The latest update as of October 31, 2021

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NOON Update

After a first round of Top Fuel that saw the top six racers in the Championship Countdown advance to the second round, things got wacky... with a capital W-A-C-K-Y in the first round of Funny Car. It started with John Force losing to "Little City Charger" driver Chris Morel. Up until that point, the first two pairs saw the expected winners as Robert Hight and Alexis Dejoria advanced, before things started going off the rails.

The next pair saw J.R. Todd, #3 in the points and fighting for the championship lose traction at mid-track and could only watch Paul Lee streak to the win. Not expected, but not nearly as huge an upset as Morel taking out John Force. Then things got strange quickly as Chad Green took out the points leader - or co-points leader - Matt Hagan with yet another upset. Again, like with Paul Lee, Mr. Green was certainly not "cannon fodder", driving the de-facto Wilkerson team #2 car and receiving tuning help from Daniel (& Tim) Wilkerson. The next pair saw rookie nitro racer Tony Jurado give Cruz Pedregon a good challenge before losing, then ending up in the sand trap when the chutes failed.

Tony Jurado - 'Capitol Punishment' - FC

Picture copyright by NHRA.tv

It's certainly not the way he wanted to end his weekend, but nitro rookie Tony Jurado, in just his fourth 'Big Show' race gave his opponent Cruz Pedregon a real battle before losing by a 3.947 - 295.08 to 4.032 - 317.19 margin. Pedregon nearly gave the victory to Jurado as he just barely missed the finish line blocks before he was able to wrestle the car back into the center of the lane in the shutdown. Jurado kept the throttle open to the finish line, but the parachutes failed to open and he went up the hill and into the sand trap at the end. It doesn't look the car was badly damaged, but it's going to need a thorough cleaning before he finishes the season in Pomona in two weeks.

1:30 PM Update

They've just finished running the semifinals in Top Alcohol, and while neither of the National Championships were decided, there's a very good chance that at least one of them will be determined later this afternoon. In Funny Car, after Doug Gordon surprisingly (amazingly?) lost in yesterday's first round eliminations, Sean Bellemeur took advantage of his early departure and won his semifinal race over Bob McCosh - by a very narrow margin (.009 second) - and advanced to the final round against Brian Hough.

The semifinal win put Bellemeur into a tie with Gordon for the points lead, both at 776 points, but he can take the championship for the third time if he can get past Hough in the final round. However, even if he loses he can still take the championship by making it to the final round at Pomona. At the moment, Bellemeur and Gordon are tied in points, but Gordon has five national event wins to Bellemeur's four, and if that is the first tie-breaker, then the title would remain with Gordon unless Bellemeur can make the final at Pomona and gain the points needed to take the championship outright.

In Top Alcohol Dragster the situation is much more clearcut with points leader Rachel Meyer and her pursuer, Jackie Fricke, as both advanced to the final round later this afternoon. Meyer leads Fricke by 20 points, BUT Fricke can earn 21 points if she can get past Meyer in the final. Do the math and the Lucas Oil championship would go to Jackie Fricke by ONE point. The pressure on both drivers and teams going into that final round will certainly be immense. Stay tuned!

2:30 PM Update

We've just finished the second of Top Fuel & Funny Car eliminations and the championships in both classes are coming into sharper focus. In Top Fuel, there's only four drivers left in the Countdown with a chance to win the season championship. All four advanced into the semifinals today, with Brittany Force clocking the slowest winning time of the round at 3.745. The pairings in the semis are Brittany Force versus Mike Salinas (with Salinas holding lane choice), and Steve Torrence having his choice versus Justin Ashley - by just .003 second. If Salinas or Ashley lose in that round, then their championship aspirations are over for 2021.

Over in Funny Car, the championship window is still open for seven racers, with the four semifinalists all in that group. Ron Capps re-took the points lead with his first round win, and Matt Hagan's loss, before extending the lead to 38 points with his second round win. Making a move up the ladder from #4 to #3 was Cruz Pedregon as he continued his late season charge, and he's now 103 points behind Capps, after passing J.R. Todd. Rounding out the semifinalists are #6 Bob Tasca III and #7 Robert Hight. Similar to the situation in Top Fuel, if Tasca or Hight fail to advance to the final round, they will be eliminated from the championship chase. And if Capps wins today he will almost mathematically eliminate John Force and Todd from the countdown chase.

We're still posting photos from yesterday, but the captions will have to wait until tomorrow. Today's photos will be posted and captioned by Tuesday evening. "Unfortunately" the weather outside is just too darn nice today to stay at the computer all afternoon working on the event coverage.

The view from the rooftop deck at my home in Spirit Bay

This is the view this afternoon from the rooftop deck at my home near Victoria, BC (Canada). The house is named the "Cliff House" as it's built into the side of a cliff at Beecher Bay in a neighbourhood known as Sunset Point. A truly magical place to live, but not too remote to follow the sport we all love: DRAG RACING.

4:00 PM Update

The points picture in Top Fuel got clearer as Steve Torrence advanced to his umpeenth final round and opened up an 85-point lead on his closest challenger, Brittany Force as she fell on a holeshot to Mike Salinas. With that win, Salinas moved into third place in the standings, passing Justin Ashley, who fell to Torrence and saw his title hopes take a big hit. While he still has a mathematical chance, sitting 168 points behind Torrence, he would have to run the table at Pomona and have Torrence fail to qualify... which has never happened during his Top Fuel career.

In Funny Car, the points leader Ron Capps stretched the gap over second place Matt Hagan, and now sits 58 points in front of the "Hulk", and if he wins today's event, will make it a 78 point lead. Capps' win over Robert Hight in the semis eliminated Hight from the championship chase, and Bob Tasca III's loss to Cruz Pedregon dropped him from contention. With his semifinal win Pedregon kept within striking distance of Capps no matter what happens in the final today. It's been quite a season for Pedregon's Snap-On team as they've moved from struggling to make the Top Ten to being a championship contender for the first time in quite a few years.

In the Top Alcohol finals, the "Killer B's" prevailed over Brian Hough in the final round, and took the Lucas Oil National championship away from defending champion Doug Gordon who suffered his most untimely loss ever with a first round departure yesterday. With the win, Bellemeur earned his third championship, all in the last four years. A great job by both teams, and a very well deserved victory for Bellemeur over a more than worthy opponent.

The dragster final featured two A/Fuel cars, two female drivers, and one race for the national championship. Saving the best for last was this year's national champion, Rachel Meyer as he blasted out low e.t. of the meet at 5.191, coupled with a 281.01 mph speed to crush Jackie Fricke's close, but not nearly close enough 5.260 - 270.16 as the gap at the finish line was little more than a car length. The championship marked the fourth year running that the Meyer team has taken home the big trophy at the end of the season. Again, a well deserved win over a more than worthy opponent who fought to the very end and came oh-so-close to breaking up the Meyer monopoly on the class.

TOP FUEL - Final Qualifying Session - Saturday

Steve Chrisman - 'Worsham Racing' - TF --- Rob Passey - 'Seven23 Enterprises' - TF

Brandon Welch - 'Max Mileage' - TF --- Buddy Hull - 'Circle Racing' - TF

Jim Maroney - 'American Flow-Tech' - TF --- Billy Torrence - 'Capco Contractors' - TF

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

Steve Torrence - 'Capco Contractors' - TF --- Antron Brown - 'Matco Tools' - TF

Justin Ashley - 'Vita-C Shot' - TF

FUNNY CAR - Final Qualifying Session - Saturday

Bobby Bode - 'Ar-Bee' - FC --- Terry Haddock - 'Circle Racing' - FC

Chad Green - 'Bond-Coat' - FC --- Robert Hight - 'AAA Auto Club' - FC

Chris Morel - 'Little City Charger' - FC --- Steven Densham - 'Mid-West' - FC

Cruz Pedregon - 'Snap-On' - FC --- Tim Wilkerson - 'Levi, Ray & Shoup' - FC

John Force - 'Peak' - FC --- Ron Capps - 'Pennzoil - Napa' - FC

J.R. Todd - 'DHL' - FC --- Alexis DeJoria - 'Bandero Tequila' - FC

TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER - Eliminations Round Two

Kim Parker - 'Carstar' - A/FD --- Jackie Fricke - 'Finke Equipment' - A/FD

Julie Nataas - 'OTG' - A/FD --- Rachel Meyer - 'NTK' - A/FD

TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR - Eliminations Round Two

Chris Marshall - 'Disturbed Racing' - TA/FC --- Bob McCosh - 'McCosh Chevrolet' - TA/FC

Sean Bellemeur - 'Hussey Performance' - TA/FC --- Hunter Jones - 'Southwest' - TA/FC

Chris Marshall BUG in Halloween costume