2021 Top Fuel Dragster Gatornationals preview

By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher

Top Fuel Dragster returns to the track for the first time in several months on Friday. These 11,000 horsepower dragsters will be competing in the historic Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Florida.

Nitro qualifying will begin on Friday at 5 pm EST. Top Fuel will be the last category on the track on the first day of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.

Capco Contractors Top Fuel Dragster pilots Steve and Billy Torrence hug during a national event
Steve and Billy Torrence hug during a national event (Photo by Steve Torrence/Instagram)

All the drivers in the class will attempt to take the reins from Capco Contractors Top Fuel Dragster pilot Steve Torrence. He has won three championships.

Related: Larson dominant in 2021 Pennzoil 400 win in Las Vegas

Capco Contractors will have both of their Top Fuel Dragsters on the property. Both Steve and Billy Torrence will be competing in the first race of the season.

S. Torrence was the last driver to win the Gatornationals as it was delayed from March to September. This was one of three events that he won in 2020.

Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster pilot Doug Kalitta finished second behind Torrence in the points standings. It’s the second straight year that Kalitta finished behind the Kilgore, Texas native.

Related: Monster Truck legend Dennis Anderson enters Monster Jam Hall of Fame

Kalitta Motorsports will also have DHL Top Fuel Dragster pilot Shawn Langdon competing in this race.

Three-time Top Fuel Champion Antron Brown will return to the track in his Don Schumacher Racing entry. The Matco Tools-sponsored Brown considered starting his team, but due to the coronavirus, this venture has been delayed.

Mopar and Pennzoil sponsored Leah Pruett will join her teammate Brown at this event. DSR has won the last two Top Fuel Dragsters Wallys as Tony Schumacher and Brown won races in Baytown, Texas, and Las Vegas, Nevada to end the 2020 season.

Related: Throwback: Dale Earnhardt Sr. wins 1980 Atlanta 500

John Force Racing pilot Brittany Force is returning to the track in more than a year. The Monster Energy sponsored driver last competed in a national event at the NHRA Arizona Nationals last February.

When the coronavirus happened, John Force Racing was shut down. JFR announced their return in February days after Force let the cat out of the bag at a Supercross event.

Speaking of returning, Mike Salinas is also returning to the sport. However, unlike JFR, the Scrappers Racing pilot did not compete in a single event in 2020.

Related: C. Bell wins first Cup Series race at Daytona road course

The team elected that they would get a late start to the season. Then, once the coronavirus pandemic hit, Salinas and his team elected not to compete.

Racer Direct sponsored Scott Palmer is also returning. He sat out most of the 2020 season.

Strutmasters.com and 2020 Rookie of the Year winner Justin Ashley returns to the track after winning his first Wally in 2020. The Davis Motorsports driver won the Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals at Indianapolis that was delayed from July to September.

Related: 18-year-old Ty Gibbs wins first Xfinity Series start

Parts Plus Top Fuel Dragster pilot Clay Millican will be piloting his Stringer Performance dragster this weekend. A&A Facility Solutions Top Fuel Dragster pilot Doug Foley returns to a national event this weekend.

Part-timers Joe Morrison, Arthur Allen, and Todd Paton will attempt to make the eliminations on Sunday. Mike Bucher will be competing in the Totten Racing entry after competing in Top Alcohol Dragster.

Burnyzz and Technet sponsored Josh Hart will be making his Top Fuel Dragster debut this weekend at his home track. All of his first passes have come at Gainesville, Florida near his Ocala residence.

Related: Rhodes is third driver to win first two Truck Series events to begin a season

Hart competed in Top Alcohol Dragster before making the switch in December. Last year, he sold his Top Alcohol Dragster operation to Karen Stalba.

Lucas Oil and McLeod sponsored Krista Baldwin will also make her Top Fuel Dragster debut. She received her license last October.

She’s competing in her grandfather Chris Karamesines’ Top Fuel Dragster.

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