NHRA Camping World’s 2nd event of 2021 includes some “4-wide style” drag racing firsts….

Back-to-back world champ Erica Enders went from nearly not qualifying to collecting her first victory of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season, grabbing the Pro Stock win at the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Bob Tasca III (Funny Car) and Ryan Oehler (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won in their respective categories at the second race of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.

In her 300th career start, Enders, a four-time world champ, picked up her 30th career win by going 6.656-seconds at 205.88 mph in the final round in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro to beat teammate Aaron Stanfield, Deric Kramer and Mason McGaha. Enders, who won her second straight race at Las Vegas and eighth overall at the facility, slipped into the qualifying field at No. 13 on her last attempt on Saturday, becoming the first Pro Stock competitor to win from 13th since 2006. She stayed perfect over her last six final-round appearances and became the first driver to win a four-wide race from the bottom half of the field.

Erica Enders collected her 30th career win during her 300th careers start in NHRA racing.

“I guess today is all about threes,” Enders said. “I really want to give a big thank you to my guys. It is frustrating to go out and shake your butt off (the first two qualifying) rounds. They got down to business today and that’s all that matters. I’m so proud of my team and I freaking love Las Vegas.”

Enders was second in both of the first two quads, using a holeshot to advance in the second round, before the final-round win. Stanfield won his second-round quad and went 6.667 at 205.26 in the finals to finish as runner-up.

In Top Fuel, Torrence capped off a memorable stretch with his fifth four-wide victory, going 3.823 at 321.73 in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster in the final round to beat Doug Kalitta, Clay Millican and Antron Brown. It gives Torrence his first victory of 2021 and 41st in his career. The win for Torrence, who has won three straight world titles, comes after celebrating the birth of his first child less than two weeks ago, his birthday on Saturday and his mother’s birthday on Sunday. After qualifying second, Torrence won his first two quads and cruised to the win in the final round against three standout drivers.

3X and defending NHRA World Champion Steve Torrence was the Top Fuel winner.

“There’s nothing better than being a dad, and happy birthday to my mom, and we had Dom Lagana standing on the starting line with me. There’s a lot of cool stuff that happened today,” Torrence said. “I’m taking my little girl home her very first Wally. We had to work hard to get it done today, but we got it done and I’m proud of it.”

Kalitta finished as the runner-up in the class, going 3.866 at 270.75 in his 106th career final round. He won his first quad and finished second to Torrence in the second round to advance to the finals.

Tasca III picked up his first Funny Car victory in nearly two years and his seventh overall thanks to a run of 3.938 at 328.46 in his 11,000-horsepower Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang in the finals. In a loaded Funny Car final, Tasca outlasted defending world champ Matt Hagan, Tim Wilkerson and Ron Capps, narrowly slipping past Hagan at the finish line. Tasca also earned his first career four-wide win in the process, with it coming on the weekend where the Ford Mustang celebrated its 57th birthday.

Bob Tasca III (far lane) prevailed to win his 7th NHRA fuel FC title.

“It’s so special. My dad hasn’t been out here in a long time and it’s great to have him out here,” Tasca said. “Happy birthday to Mustang, and I’m so privileged to be able to drive the quickest and fastest Mustang on the planet, so thank you to Ford.”

Hagan went 3.955 at 324.98 to finish as the runner-up. He was second in the first-round quad and won his second-round quad to move to his 66th final. Wilkerson’s 3.922 at 320.43 was the quickest run of the final round, but Tasca and Hagan were both quicker on the starting line.

Oehler was in a celebratory mood after earning his second career Pro Stock Motorcycle victory on his Flyin’ Ryan Racing EBR, going 6.911 at 194.83 in the final round to beat Cory Reed, Steve Johnson and a red-lighting Scotty Pollacheck. He overcame significant adversity throughout the weekend to gain his first four-wide victory, winning his first-round quad and finishing second a round later to Johnson to move to the final round. Oehler, who earned his first career win last season, was impressive in the final round, posting a great reaction time and picking up the strong wire-to-wire win.

Ryan Oehler won in Pro Stock Motorcycle

“We started the weekend off in the sand at the end of the track and round one, we basically ruined the engine,” Oehler said. “We changed motors and made a rapid turnaround, and I can’t thank my family, my team, my crew and my sponsors enough. This is awesome. We got our second Wally and there’s going to be more.”

Reed finished as the runner-up after going 6.948 at 193.10, advancing to his second career final round. He took second in all three quads on Sunday.

The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to action April 30-May 2 with the Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, marking the final event at the facility.

The Lucas Oil Lowdown

This 2021 edition of the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals – included for the first time in drag racing history – Top Alcohol competition on a four wide basis.

Annals will show the names Shawn Cowie and Doug Gordon as the first ever TA event champions for that format.

Shawn Cowie and Doug Gordon made history – became the first two Top Alcohol winners in 4-wide drag racing.

Cowie, who is from British Columbia, and who has finished 2nd in final NHRA Lucas Oil World Championship points the last three years in a row – collected his 21st career NHRA national event title.

As so many of his previous wins have been, Shawn’s was another dominating display, including winning from the event pole position and setting both low ET and top speed (5.208 secs 277.37 mph) along the way racing his Mundie’s Towing & Recovery dragster.

The TAD final round “quad” was probably the best of the entire Las Vegas event — with all four participants running in the 5.2 secs zone.

Shawn’s run of 5.214 secs was the winner over runner-up Jackie Fricke’s 5.229 secs. Casey Grisel and Julie Nataas ran 5.263 secs and 5.297 secs respectively.

California’s Doug Gordon, the defending NHRA Lucas Oil World Champion won for the 12th time in his career in the TAFC.

Gordon peddled his Beta Motorcycle-sponsored Chevy Camaro to a final round 6.352 secs 247.50 to win over the championship round “quad” which also featured Kris Hool, Sean Bellemeur and Nick Janiuk.

The remainder of the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event was run on a traditional 2-lane 1/4 mile basis.

Joe Mozelis’s B/EA scored the Competition eliminator title.

Winners included Joe Mozelis’s B/EA in Competition eliminator, Brad Rounds in a SS/BS in Super Stock and Conner Statler winning his first national event in Stock.

Conner Statler was a first time event winner in Stock eliminator with his ’69 Camaro

The altitude adjusted index titles went to Michael Miller in Super Comp (9.10) – his fifth career win at the Strip at Las Vegas. Craig Maddox won in the Super Gas (10.05) division.

The NHRA race also included ferocious action in the Top Sportsman and Top Dragster – eliminators presented by Vortech Superchargers. Both those classes produced first time NHRA title winners – Jeff Connelly (TS) and Ryan Carlson (TD).

Top Sportsman went to Jeff Connelly’s pro-charger assisted Camaro
The Top Dragster class champion was Ryan Carlsen

Posted with files by NHRA Communications and Bruce Biegler
Photos by Bob Johnson – Ron Lewis – Courtesy of NHRA