(Josh) Hart’s in the Right Place at NHRA Carolina Nationals, as Nitro Classes Get New Points Leaders

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Photo credit: NHRA
Photo credit: NHRA
  • Part-time NHRA Top Fuel driver Josh Hart knocked off No. 1 qualifier Brittany Force to win the Top Fuel portion of Sunday's NHRA Carolina Nationals.

  • Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car), Kyle Koretsky (Pro Stock) also scored victories on Sunday.

  • Louisianian Angelle Sampey scored an emotional Pro Stock Motorcycle victory.

Top Fuel rookie phenom Josh Hart, who this March won the Gatornationals in his first professional race, made it two victories in two final rounds Sunday the NHRA DeWalt Carolina Nationals at Concord, N.C.’s zMAX Dragway.

Hart, 38, of Ocala, Fla., missed his chance to qualify for the Countdown by skipping two midsummer races when several of his R+L Carriers Dragster crew members became ill, kept his promise to shake up the championship chase. He defeated new class points leader Brittany Force by .0096 of a second (about five feet) in the final and joined Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car), Kyle Koretsky (Pro Stock), and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) in the winners circle.

U.S. Nationals Funny Car winner Wilkerson claimed his second victory in three races – his second in three weeks after waiting five years before winning at Indianapolis.

“I told you we’re going to make this championship interesting,” the owner-driver-tuner of the Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang said after taking a .0225-second victory over Cruz Pedregon, who was celebrating his 58th birthday Sunday.

Semifinal finisher Ron Capps assumed the Funny Car points lead.

In Pro Stock, second-generation driver Kyle Koretsky earned his first victory, putting KB Racing headliner teammate Greg Anderson’s bid for a class-record 98th on ice for at least another week.

Sampey recorded her 44th victory in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class against Joey Gladstone in the final round.

Gladstone had to compose himself after teammate Cory Reed was transported to a local hospital after they collided at the end of their second-round run – and after semifinal opponent Steve Johnson appeared to be experiencing the same problems Reed did and came within inches of crashing into him, as well.

Reed was thrown from his ill-handling motorcycle as it hit Gladstone, flipped, and pitched him onto the track and into the guard wall. No medical update has been provided for Reed. But Gladstone had told Reed he was going to go to the hospital with him, and Reed – who was conscious, alert, and communicating with emergency personnel after the accident – told him to stay at zMAX Dragway and keep racing.

Ironically, Gladstone had started the year in the hospital at Florence, S.C., in a testing crash in which he also came off his bike – and suffered a broken collar bone, broken ribs, a broken shoulder blade, a bruised lung, and massive “road rash.”

The Camping World Drag Racing Series will reconvene this coming weekend in the St. Louis suburb of Madison, Ill., at World Wide Technology Raceway for the Midwest Nationals.

Photo credit: John Force Racing
Photo credit: John Force Racing

Habit of Force: No. 1 Qualifiers

For the fifth time overall and the third this year (second in the past three events), Funny Car star John Force and his Top Fuel-driving daughter Brittany Force have earned No. 1 qualifying positions at the same race. She parlayed that into the points lead and a runner-up finish, but her dad saw his points lead vanish during qualifying .

Brittany Force seized the points lead, thank to picking up the maximum of nine qualifying bonus points this weekend while virtual year-long Top Fuel leader Steve Torrence blanked on the chance to gain the small-but-critical extra markers.

She has earned eight consecutive No. 1 starting spots and 10 total this season. She tied Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden (1986) and Pro Stock Motorcycle powerhouse Andrew Hines (1998) for seventh on the all-time list, so she’s the first to grab eight straight in 23 years. If she can set low elapsed time in qualifying at next week’s Midwest Nationals at St. Louis, she will share the Top Fuel record for consecutive qualifiers with retired Gary Beck, whose posted nine in a row in both 1982 and 1983 – before Force was born.

“We have team meetings, and we debate slowing it down and playing it safe. That never works for us. We want to throw down every single run,” Force said. She has had the quickest E.T. in each of the past eight qualifying sessions (throughout the past four races).

As for being poised to match Beck’s record, Force said, “That’s very cool. We’re not there yet. But eight in a row, that makes me proud of this entire team. It took all of us to chase that down. It’s not easy to do, I’ll tell you that. What’s not easy is winning on race day, and that’s our focus right now. You have to stay humble, and you have to stay focused.”

John Force owns the NHRA’s top-qualifier record, leading his field 163 times. But the points leader said he can hear his time clock ticking.

“I’m runnin’ out of time, if you want to know the truth. Don’t know what that time frame is, but I love it. I’m healthy. I was in the gym today for two hours. And I want to just race with these kids,” the 16-time Funny Car champion said. “I just really love the racin’, love the fans, and it’s getting’ tougher, because I’m getting’ older. Drivin’s the easy part, if you don’t let stress get ya and get caught up in the Countdown. The race car don’t know how old you are. I can drive this thing. Not a problem.”

John Force got an automatic disqualification in his second-round race against Tim Wilkerson for crossing the center line and striking the timing cone. That came with a costly 15-point penalty. Brittany Force defeated Artie Allen, Spencer Massey, and primary target Steve Torrence (after the scoreboard falsely showed Torrence winning).

Photo credit: NHRA
Photo credit: NHRA

Matt Hagan Back In Business

Funny Car contender Matt Hagan, for whom COVID ruined a 288-race “perfect-attendance” streak, is back in the hunt for his second straight and fourth overall championship. He said it was “bittersweet” watching Tommy Johnson Jr. drive his Dodge Charger to the winners circle at Reading a week ago and at Indianapolis before that but “he deserves so much credit. He’s such a good driver.”

Hagan, a cattle and hemp farmer from near Christiansburg, Va., said, “It’s pretty crazy that I’ve been able to race for almost 15 years now and never had to miss one. I’ve always been healthy, never had a broken bone or anything. I’m on the farm when I’m not at the racetrack. I’ve never been kicked by a cow or gotten run over by a piece of equipment. The whole experience was very humbling, and it was a very helpless feeling of not being able to do anything to change it.”

Without his cell phone “going off nonstop” and “about 100 people texting me all day long,” Hagan qualified fifth at zMAX Dragway Saturday. He advanced past Tony Jurado in the opening round Sunday but lost in the quarterfinal to Don Schumacher Racing mate Ron Capps.

Photo credit: NHRA
Photo credit: NHRA

CONCORD, N.C. -- Final finish order (1-16) at the 13th annual DeWalt NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway. The race is the 15th of 20 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.

TOP FUEL:

1. Josh Hart; 2. Brittany Force; 3. Steve Torrence; 4. Justin Ashley; 5. Spencer Massey; 6.

Billy Torrence; 7. Clay Millican; 8. Mike Salinas; 9. Antron Brown; 10. Doug Kalitta; 11. Doug Foley; 12. Leah Pruett; 13. Alex Laughlin; 14. Shawn Langdon; 15. Arthur Allen; 16. Joe Morrison.

FUNNY CAR:

1. Tim Wilkerson; 2. Cruz Pedregon; 3. Ron Capps; 4. Alexis DeJoria; 5. Matt Hagan; 6. J.R. Todd; 7. Terry Haddock; 8. John Force; 9. Jim Campbell; 10. Blake Alexander; 11. Bob Tasca III; 12. Mike McIntire; 13. Tony Jurado; 14. Robert Hight; 15. Dave Richards.

PRO STOCK:

1. Kyle Koretsky; 2. Greg Anderson; 3. Wally Stroupe; 4. Erica Enders; 5. Troy Coughlin Jr.; 6. Deric Kramer; 7. Deric Kramer; 8. Mason McGaha; 9. Cristian Cuadra; 10. Vincent Nobile; 11. Fernando Cuadra; 12. Kenny Delco; 13. Alan Prusiensky; 14. Matt Hartford; 15. Chris McGaha; 16. Aaron Stanfield.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:

1. Angelle Sampey; 2. Joey Gladstone; 3. Eddie Krawiec; 4. Steve Johnson; 5. Andrew Hines; 6. Scotty Pollacheck; 7. Cory Reed; 8. Matt Smith; 9. Karen Stoffer; 10. Ryan Oehler; 11. Angie Smith; 12. Jim Underdahl; 13. Michael Phillips; 14. Kelly Clontz; 15. Jianna Salinas; 16. Chris Bostick.

CONCORD, N.C. -- Sunday's final results from the 13th annual DeWalt NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway. The race is the 15th of 20 in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel -- Josh Hart, 3.770 seconds, 324.12 mph def. Brittany Force, 3.751 seconds, 320.05 mph.

Funny Car -- Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.927, 331.36 def. Cruz Pedregon, Dodge Charger, 3.947, 325.53.

Pro Stock -- Kyle Koretsky, Chevy Camaro, 6.629, 207.27 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.639, 208.20.

Pro Stock Motorcycle -- Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.861, 196.62 def. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 7.156, 154.81.

Top Alcohol Dragster -- Matthew Cummings, 5.320, 277.32 def. Karen Stalba, 10.667, 95.02.

Top Alcohol Funny Car -- Sean Bellemeur, Chevy Camaro, 5.532, 263.67 def. Nick Januik, Camaro, 5.554, 262.33.

Competition Eliminator -- Frank Aragona, Roadster, 7.600, 149.03 def. Larry Pritchett, Pontiac Sunfire, 8.733, 115.01.

Super Stock -- Dan Fletcher, Chevy Camaro, 10.411, 102.87 def. Herbie Null Jr, Camaro, Foul - Red Light.

Stock Eliminator -- Timothy Stickles, Chevy Malibu, 12.194, 98.02 def. Brad Plourd, Chevy Nova, 11.067, 107.91.

Super Comp -- Bob Prose, Dragster, 8.920, 183.37 def. Michael Handras, Dragster, Foul - Red Light.

Super Gas -- Craig Porter, Ford Mustang, 9.893, 164.05 def. Iggie Boicesco, Chevy Corvette, 9.885, 170.88.

Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers -- Vince Hoda, Chevy Camaro, 6.549, 212.73 def. Sandy Wilkins, Camaro, 6.525, 212.39.

Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers -- Danny Nelson, Dragster, 6.149, 224.73 def. JB Strassweg, Dragster, 6.274, 210.67.

Pro Modified -- Jose Gonzalez, Chevy Camaro, 5.792, 248.29 def. Mike Castellana, Camaro, 5.828, 245.40.

CONCORD, N.C. -- Final round-by-round results from the 13th annual DeWalt NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway, the 15th of 20 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series:

TOP FUEL:

ROUND ONE -- Justin Ashley, 3.731, 327.59 def. Leah Pruett, 3.890, 303.78; Clay Millican, 5.489, 190.00 def. Shawn Langdon, 5.552, 248.39; Brittany Force, 3.689, 332.67 def. Arthur Allen, 5.705, 116.68; Mike Salinas, 3.711, 328.14 def. Joe Morrison, 15.236, 79.69; Steve Torrence, 3.725, 325.45 def. Doug Kalitta, 3.817, 288.83; Billy Torrence, 3.750, 303.78 def. Doug Foley, 3.838, 310.13; Josh Hart, 3.788, 322.34 def. Alex Laughlin, 4.950, 152.71; Spencer Massey, 3.807, 323.43 def. Antron Brown, 3.785, 323.97;

QUARTERFINALS -- Ashley, 3.749, 327.35 def. Millican, 9.261, 82.82; Force, 3.734, 325.85 def. Massey, 3.815, 323.19; Hart, 3.800, 322.65 def. Salinas, 9.937, 76.15; S. Torrence, 3.754, 325.37 def. B. Torrence, 3.846, 313.29;

SEMIFINALS -- Force, 3.721, 331.36 def. S. Torrence, 3.751, 322.81; Hart, 4.129, 238.13 def. Ashley, 6.969, 104.07;

FINAL -- Hart, 3.770, 324.12 def. Force, 3.751, 320.05.

FUNNY CAR:

ROUND ONE -- Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.901, 328.46 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.066, 311.13; John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.983, 312.86 was unopposed; Terry Haddock, Ford Mustang, 5.991, 253.37 def. Robert Hight, Camaro, 11.737, 83.53; Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.903, 325.77 def. Dave Richards, Mustang, 11.830, 80.81; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.929, 327.43 def. Tony Jurado, Mustang, 8.875, 82.84; J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.913, 325.85 def. Mike McIntire, Camry, 6.960, 94.50; Alexis DeJoria,

Camry, 3.913, 324.98 def. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 4.317, 298.27; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.931,

323.58 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.444, 196.62;

QUARTERFINALS -- Pedregon, 3.962, 324.20 def. Todd, 7.389, 110.11; Capps, 3.949, 315.71 def. Hagan, 3.938, 327.74; DeJoria, 3.960, 318.32 def. Haddock, 10.239, 91.63; Wilkerson, 3.953, 326.79 def. Force, Foul - Centerline;

SEMIFINALS -- Pedregon, 3.959, 326.24 def. DeJoria, 11.519, 68.13; Wilkerson, 3.909, 315.42 def. Capps, 3.939, 319.07;

FINAL -- Wilkerson, 3.927, 331.36 def. Pedregon, 3.947, 325.53.

PRO STOCK:

ROUND ONE -- Deric Kramer, Chevy Camaro, 6.646, 205.82 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 13.025, 68.94; Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.684, 202.27 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 14.938, 57.39; Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.607, 206.29 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.638, 207.18; Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.628, 207.11 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.666, 206.26; Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.606, 207.08 def. Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.636, 206.86; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.592, 207.91 def. Fernando Cuadra, Mustang,

6.657, 207.02; Wally Stroupe, Camaro, 18.750, 27.03 def. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, Foul - Red Light; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.594, 207.34 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.695, 204.70;

QUARTERFINALS -- Stroupe, 6.684, 204.60 def. Kramer, 6.655, 205.88; Koretsky, 6.640, 207.30 def. Glenn, 18.348, 35.38; Enders, 6.626, 207.08 def. M. McGaha, 17.913, 43.00; Anderson, 6.595, 207.88 def. Coughlin Jr., 6.647, 206.10;

SEMIFINALS -- Koretsky, 6.661, 206.67 def. Stroupe, 15.601, 54.11; Anderson, 6.570, 209.33 def. Enders, 18.907, 29.56;

FINAL -- Koretsky, 6.629, 207.27 def. Anderson, 6.639, 208.20.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:

ROUND ONE -- Scotty Pollacheck, 6.921, 196.24 def. Angie Smith, 6.998, 193.63; Andrew Hines, Buell, 6.964, 194.91 def. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.025, 189.63; Eddie Krawiec, Buell, 6.913, 195.59 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.009, 192.60; Cory Reed, Suzuki, 7.018, 190.81 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, Foul - Red Light; Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.912, 194.07 def. Jianna Salinas, Suzuki, 23.478, 91.50; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.867, 194.80 def. Chris Bostick, Broke - No Show; Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.848,

195.79 def. Ryan Oehler, 6.979, 194.27; Matt Smith, 6.833, 199.97 def. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 7.023, 190.32;

QUARTERFINALS -- Gladstone, 6.949, 193.24 def. Reed, 6.937, 192.47; Johnson, 6.830, 196.99 def. Pollacheck, 6.915, 194.97; Sampey, 6.907, 193.85 def. Hines, 6.901, 195.51; Krawiec, 6.952, 197.02 def. M. Smith, Foul - Red Light;

SEMIFINALS -- Sampey, 6.863, 194.94 def. Krawiec, 6.905, 197.54; Gladstone, def. Johnson, Foul - Centerline;

FINAL -- Sampey, 6.861, 196.62 def. Gladstone, 7.156, 154.81.

CONCORD, N.C. -- Point standings (top 10) following the 13th annual DeWalt NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway, the 15th of 20 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series -

Top Fuel

1. Brittany Force, 2,274; 2. Steve Torrence, 2,253; 3. Justin Ashley, 2,200; 4. Billy Torrence, 2,192; 5. Leah Pruett, 2,146; 6. Mike Salinas, 2,138; 7. Antron Brown, 2,136; 8. Shawn Langdon, 2,133; 9. Clay Millican, 2,126; 10. Doug Kalitta, 2,064.

Funny Car

1. Ron Capps, 2,233; 2. Matt Hagan, 2,228; 3. John Force, 2,208; 4. J.R. Todd, 2,187; 5. Cruz Pedregon, 2,181; 6. (tie) Robert Hight, 2,161; Tim Wilkerson, 2,161; 8. Bob Tasca III, 2,140; 9. Alexis DeJoria, 2,136; 10. Blake Alexander, 2,064.

Pro Stock

1. Greg Anderson, 2,327; 2. Erica Enders, 2,262; 3. Kyle Koretsky, 2,236; 4. Dallas Glenn, 2,180; 5. Aaron Stanfield, 2,170; 6. Troy Coughlin Jr., 2,169; 7. Matt Hartford, 2,130; 8. Mason McGaha, 2,120; 9. Deric Kramer, 2,115; 10. Chris McGaha, 2,110.

Pro Stock Motorcycle

1. Steve Johnson, 2,272; 2. Angelle Sampey, 2,255; 3. Matt Smith, 2,242; 4. Eddie Krawiec, 2,233; 5. Scotty Pollacheck, 2,177; 6. Joey Gladstone, 2,171; 7. Cory Reed, 2,125; 8. Angie Smith, 2,122; 9. Karen Stoffer, 2,117; 10. Andrew Hines, 2,110.