Nitro Stars Seek US Nationals Legacy Victory

INDIANAPOLIS — As the reigning four-time Top Fuel world champion, Steve Torrence knows all about racing in big moments. But none of them can win the 68th annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA US Nationals, which takes place this weekend at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.

It’s the biggest drag race in the world and Torrence, who also won the last NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series event in Brainerd, has two victories in the United States under his belt, including last year in his Capco dragster 11,000 horsepower contractors.

This year could be even more important for the 52-time winner of the event, as he also makes the semi-finals of the specialty race Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout. It started in Gainesville and is now in the semifinals, where points leader Brittany Force Torrence, Mike Salinas and Justin Ashley will face off on Saturday for the $80,000 prize before Sunday’s eliminations.

It’s lucky to have another spectacular memory for Torrence, who will struggle to top last year’s win at the Big Go.

“I won it last year with my granddaughter and it’s my most memorable victory. It’s the granddaddy of them all and the big one you want to win,” said Torrence, who is third in points. “You can do anything, but if you don’t win Indy you don’t have a full career. To share that with my daughter before she was (one) was special. I can’t wait to ‘go there every year and that’s what a legend means. (Tony) Schumacher, Big Daddy (Don Garlits), everyone who’s somebody’s dominated Indy. I’m not there yet, but I hope to get there one day.

Torrence (Top Fuel), Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all had victories a year ago at the Big Go. This year’s race will be broadcast on the both on the FOX Broadcast Network and on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including live elimination coverage beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Monday, September 5 on FS1 and continuing at 2 p.m. on FOX. This is the 16th of 22 races in the 2022 season and the last race before the championship countdown.

Everything seems like perfect timing for Torrence, especially with the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout on Saturday and points and a half on the line at Indy. A big weekend could send him to second in points heading into the playoffs, which would be plenty of momentum to put a fifth straight world title within reach.

But the Texan is only focused on this weekend because, well, it’s Indy. With a huge Top Fuel line-up of 25 cars and a top-notch roster of competitors including Force, Salinas, Ashley, 10-time event winner Tony Schumacher, Antron Brown and Leah Pruett, Torrence knows he’ll have his hands full. . But he also knows how important it is if you’re able to outlast everyone at the Big Go.

“You go there with a different mindset to try to win Indy,” Torrence said. “You couldn’t win a race all year, but you could win Indy and that would make your season. I can’t wait to go because I have a good car. Indy is Indy and only real dragsters understand that. When you win Indy, it’s a big win.

Matt Hagan. (NHRA photo)

In Funny Car, Matt Hagan is after his sponsor’s race win as he also prepares for a run at a fourth World Championship. A second victory at the US Nationals would certainly help the cause and Hagan also has the chance to make it a monumental weekend. The standout driver of the 11,000-hp Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat is also set to compete in the Pep Boys NHRA Funny Car All-Star Callout, pitting him against seven other star drivers on Sunday in a one-off specialty race.

That leads directly to eliminations, which means a lot will be on the line over multiple days for Hagan, who has three wins this year. Joining him in the legend are points leader Robert Hight, who has six wins, Ron Capps, Cruz Pedregon, Bob Tasca III, who has won three of the last four races this year, John Force, Alexis DeJoria and Tim Wilkerson, who is the event’s defending winner at the Big Go. Those same names will be among Hagan’s main challengers in Monday’s eliminations and Hagan has a clear idea of ​​what winning the US Nationals does for a driver’s career.

“I’ve won Indy before and it’s a really special, magical feeling when you do that,” Hagan said. “Indianapolis is one of those races that you never want to leave the sport without winning. It’s just a lot of excitement and buildup over a long week for everyone. We really want to knock it down. and may it be a win in the Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car in our sponsor’s title race It’s going to be a great race and I feel like we’re still moving in the right direction with this car .

Enders has reigned supreme in Pro Stock at the prestigious US Nationals for the past two seasons and the four-time world champion has dominated so far this year, winning six times. His challengers include reigning world champion Greg Anderson, who has six Indy wins and 99 career wins, Aaron Stanfield, 2016 winner Chris McGaha, reigning NHRA Rookie of the Year Dallas Glenn, Kyle Koretsky, Troy Coughlin Jr., who has won the last two races this year, Matt Hartford, Bo Butner and rookie Camrie Caruso.

Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Angelle Sampey has had a terrific 2022 season as she targets her fourth World Championship. She is also after her fourth Indy win, as is Krawiec, who is the event’s defending winner. But the competition is tough with points leader Joey Gladstone, who has back-to-back wins this year, reigning world champion Matt Smith, Steve Johnson, who has two Indy wins, and Angie Smith.

Drivers from the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by D-Wagon will also be looking to become winners of this prestigious event. The fastest Super Stock cars will also challenge for ultimate bragging rights and a bonus purse in the popular Dodge HEMI Challenge.

The NHRA Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series races will also be held at Indy, along with the popular Constant Aviation NHRA Factory Stock Showdown and Mountain Motor Pro Stock category. The Big Go is also a huge weekend for sports runners for the third year in a row, as the event includes the exciting JEGS Allstars bonus event. In total, nearly 950 cars will be in action in all categories during the race.

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