NHRA SpringNationals: Burning Questions

by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Image via NHRA

Located just outside of Houston, Royal Purple Raceway hosts the fifth round of the 2018 NHRA season this weekend as eliminations take place later today for the SpringNationals. One of two Texan rounds on this year’s calendar, the entry list has a distinctly Lone Star flavor, as top names like Steve Torrence and Tony Schumacher who are competing today all call the state home.

Today’s Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock ladders are set, and while John Force won’t be a part of the Funny Car show for the first time since Charlotte in 2018, the action still promises to be exciting. Defending Top Fuel winner Leah Pritchett just set a new elapsed time track record in qualifying, while Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Bo Butner (Pro Stock) will also look to defend 2017 wins. Here’s what we’ll be looking out for in today’s action:

Is 2018 finally Steve Torrence’s year to win the Top Fuel title?

This week’s Superstar Spotlight profiled Torrence and his rise to the top of the NHRA ranks through great adversity. Last year saw him dominate the Top Fuel class, only to fall short of first place overall under the series’ Countdown to the Championship format. But the Team Capco driver has been back with a vengeance so far this season, winning the four-wide final in Las Vegas two weeks ago to become the first repeat winner in any major class in 2018, and extending his points lead in the process.

Will Funny Car and/or Pro Stock see a repeat winner for the first time this weekend?

In Funny Car, Matt Hagan, Courtney Force, Jack Beckman, and J.R. Todd have all taken wins in the first four rounds of the 2018 season. Bo Butner, Chris McGaha, Tanner Gray, and Vincent Nobile are the four drivers to earn Pro Stock victories so far. That’s an impressive list, but unlike Torrence in Top Fuel, nobody’s been able to earn a repeat win yet. Force’s second-place run was the best qualifying result of this year’s Funny Car winners, while Gray tops the Pro Stock list after qualifying third.

Which top qualifier has the best chance of taking the win today?

Pritchett (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) earned the top seeds for today’s elimination rounds. Each will be looking to rebound from a Las Vegas event two weeks ago that saw them miss the four-wide finals. Hight made the finals in the Pomona opener, just losing out to Hagan in a thrilling finish to the weekend in the closest any of the three have come to a win. Meanwhile, both Pritchett and Anderson made the semifinals in Las Vegas for their best results of the season so far.

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