--- Home Page
--- What's New
--- Features
--- Features
--- E-mail

The latest update as of November 18, 2021

Auto Club NHRA FINALS logo

Following the usual pre-race ceremonies (we'll have those photos later), eliminations kicked off - as always - with the "Kings (and Queens) of The Sport", TOP FUEL.


Doug Kalitta (near lane) vs Josh Hart 
(far lane) --- Doug Kalitta (near lane) vs Josh Hart 
(far lane)

The first pair came out of the middle of the field, as Doug Kalitta (near lane) was looking for a good, or at least better, finish to what was otherwise a fairly miserable season for the veteran MAC Tools driver. Facing him was Rookie of The Year candidate, Josh Hart (far lane), who won his first race in Top Fuel, the Gatornationals, in March, and followed up that initial success with another win (Charlotte) and four semi-final appearances in a shortened 13-race schedule.

After so many disappointing passes, Kalitta put it all together with his quickest and fastest times of the season, a very strong 3.709 - 327.66 to take an easy win as Hart ran into trouble early and shut off to a 4.391 - 181.03 to close out his season on a rather down note as he finished with three straight first round losses.

Alex Laughlin --- Alex Laughlin (near lane) vs Clay Millican 
(far lane)

(LEFT) A real surprise this year was Alex Laughlin, who jumped into the seat of Scott Palmer's car at Denver, qualifying in his first race after licensing just four days earlier. He managed to turn that one-race deal into seven races and notch a pair of round wins, with the first coming at the U.S. Nationals. Alex showed some real marketing moxie, putting together some creative deals, including the "500 Fans Club" that sponsored his Auto Club Finals appearance.

(RIGHT) Laughlin (near lane) gave Clay Millican (far lane) a real battle in the first round, nearly matching his career best numbers (3.759 - 321.04), set in qualifying, with an almost as good 3.764 - 321.04 clocking. However, Millican left first by four hundredths, and ran just a little quicker at 3.736 - 324.67 to take the winlight by little more than a car length.

Justin Ashley --- Justin Ashley (near lane) vs Antron Brown 
(far lane)

(RIGHT) The next pair put on an even closer race, with Justin Ashley (near lane) looked to rebound from qualifying in the #12 position, despite a very good 3.765 - 320.67 effort.

(RIGHT) Ashley has some serious reaction time credentials, but his opponent, Antron Brown (far lane), left first by a hundredth or so and put down an excellent 3.717 - 328.94 to hold off Ashley's hard charging, and quicker, 3.713 - 329.42 effort. The margin at the finish line was barely a quarter car length as Brown rebounded from three consecutive first round losses to advance to the second round.

Steve Chrisman --- Steve Chrisman (near lane) vs Mike Salinas 
(far lane)

(LEFT) After spending the 2020 season on the sidelines, SoCal veteran Steve Chrisman made his third appearance of the season in the Worsham Racing (Chuck & Del) car and slid into the field on the bump with an early shutoff 4.106 - 257.83 pass.

(RIGHT That earned Chrisman a first round date with the #1 qualifier, Mike Salinas (far lane), in the "Scrappers Racing" entry. They left nearly together, but Salinas steadily opened the gap on Chrisman and turned on the winlight with a 3.745 - 327.98 that train-lengthed Chrisman's creditable 4.125 - 272.94 time.

Cameron Ferre --- Cameron Ferre (near lane) vs Leah Pruett 
(far lane)

(LEFT) Coming out of the waterbox with the tires spinning hard, Cameron Ferre came into the first round with some real confidence in his car. The Paton family team, based in Canada, was finally able to cross the border a month ago and made their season debut at Bristol with Ferre behind the wheel. Their next event, Las Vegas, saw Ferre clock three straight career bests, ringing up a 3.85, 3.82, and 3.81 in succession before smoking the tires in the first round. Their performances here in qualifying followed a similar pattern as Ferre opened qualifying with a 3.880 before finishing with another career best e.t. of 3.803 at 312.28 mph.

(RIGHT) Having to face a tough customer in Leah Pruett, (far lane) in the opening round, Ferre left first by a smidgen and ran yet another career best, breaking into the 3.70's with a 3.796 - 319.75 to send Pruett packing. She faded early to a losing 5.053 - 189.71 to end her season on a sour note after qualifying in the #3 position.

Brandon Welch --- Steve Torrence

(LEFT) Another one of the many success stories coming out of this event saw Brandon Welch rebound nicely from a frustrating race at the previous event in Las Vegas, where he ran a very decent 3.94, but was bumped out of the field in the last qualifying session. Here, he picked up the pace a little and ran a new season best and broke his personal 300-mph barrier with a 3.919 - 308.28 that left him in the #15 qualifying spot.

(RIGHT) Facing him was the three time defending Top Fuel champion, on the brink of a "four-peat", as Steve Torrence came into Pomona with an almost insurmountable lead in the points standings, and only needed a first round win over Welch to clinch the title.

Brandon Welch (near lane) vs Steve Torrence 
(far lane)

As expected, the championship went to Steve Torrence (far lane) as he pounded out a solid 3.769 - 326.00 to take the big trophy back to Texas yet again. It didn't come that easy though, as Brandon Welch put up a solid fight, leaving just a tick behind Torrence, then chasing him to the finish line with another season best e.t. and career best speed at 3.877 - 309.13 to close out his season on a high note.

Tripp Tatum --- Tripp Tatum (near lane) vs Shawn Langdon 
(far lane)

(LEFT) Getting a late start on the season, with his first race at the U.S. Nationals, Tripp Tatum got up to speed, so to speak, quickly with a 3.87 best at Indy, followed with an excellent 3.714 - 333.16 at St. Louis. His next event, at Las Vegas, saw the 3.70's - 330's continue with bests of 3.711 - 331.61 and another round win after his first at St. Louis. He started a little slower here in Pomona, landing in the #9 qualifying spot with a 3.750 best.

(RIGHT) Despite giving Shawn Langdon an early advantage on reaction times (.040 to .091), Tatum was able to quickly take control of the race, clocking a new career best elapsed time (a recurring theme in this report) at 3.704 - 327.51 to get past the first round for the third event in a row. He also earned lane choice over low qualifier Mike Salinas with the very quick e.t.

Brittany Force --- Brittany Force (near lane) vs 
Billy Torrence (far lane)

(LEFT) Although the championship was now officially out of her reach, Brittany Force still had a chance to win the final Camping World Drag Racing Series event of the year. Despite her lowly (#13) qualifying position, the worst for her in more than two years, she still had a chance to win her second event of the season.

(RIGHT) Facing her in the far lane, Billy Torrence came close to matching his qualifying time with a 3.730 - 328.30 for a runaway win. As can be clearly seen in the photo, Force was already smoking the tires before she passed the Christmas tree.

Brittany Force - Tiresmoke --- Brittany Force - Tiresmoke --- Brittany Force - Tiresmoke

Here's a trio of shots showing just how quickly and comprehensively Brittany Force smoked the tires enroute to her last run of the 2021 season. And that was a wrap for the first round of Top Fuel eliminations. Next up: Funny Car eliminator.