BROWNSBURG, Ind — The Force’s topped the night on Friday, mother nature won on Saturday, so who wins Sunday’s Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals?
Luckily, the rain will subside by time we hit the opening round of Eliminations at 10 a.m. ET, so the Wally’s are up for grabs yet again at Lucas Oil Raceway on Labor Day weekend.
The 2017 and 2019 US Nationals winners in the Top Fuel category take 2 of the top 3 spots in qualifying. Last year’s winner was 16th. The 2018 winner was a DNQ due to having a 5.555 ET on Friday night and never being able to make another run on Saturday. So, who wins?
16 Shawn Langdon vs. 1 Brittany Force
9 Justin Ashley vs. 8 Alex Laughlin
12 Joe Morrison vs. 5 Leah Pruett
13 Buddy Hull vs. 4 Josh Hart
11 Tatum vs. 6 Billy Torrence
14 Krista Baldwin vs. 3 Doug Kalitta
10 Kyle Wurtzel vs. 7 Carrillo
15 Antron Brown vs. 2 Steve Torrence
I’ll pretty much take chalk in the opening round with the exception of Ashley over Laughlin. For Round 2, that’s where I think it gets interesting.
I’ll take Ashley with the upset over Force and here’s why. Force has 5 straight No. 1 qualifiers entering this weekend. In 3 of the 5, she was ousted in the second round. Plus, Ashley knocked her off in the first round in Gainesville and the second round in Pomona too. Ashley, has also been solid lately in general with a final round loss in that Pomona race to go along with two second round defeats at the hands of Steve Torrence in each of the last two races.
I’ll take Pruett over Hart with her being in the finals last year to go along with a win over Ashely in Pomona 3 races ago and a final round loss the race prior to that in Sonoma. I think she gets by Ashley in the semis to get to her 19th career final round appearance and second straight here.
For the bottom half of the bracket, I’ll go chalk to the semis with a No. 3 Doug Kalitta vs. No. 2 Steve Torrence in the final four. Give me, Torrence.
It’s No. 5 Pruett vs. No. 2 Torrence for the Wally. Torrence, has won 4 of the last 6 races and is 5-0 against Pruett this season. I think he ends up 6-0 and takes home his 48th career Wally on Sunday afternoon.
John Force is back to defend his 2019 crown. He missed 2020 due to sitting the season out due to the pandemic. He’s the No. 1 qualifier and eyeing his 155th career win. First up is Dale Creasy Jr. With points leader Matt Hagan out plus the 9 drivers in points behind him all being in the top 10 in qualifying, this could be a cut throat bracket.
No. 16 Creasy Jr. vs. 1 Force
No. 9 Bobby Bode vs. No. 8 Tim Wilkerson
No. 12 Jim Campbell vs. No. 5 JR Todd
No. 13 Richards vs. No. 4 Cruz Pedregon
No. 11 Schriefer vs. No. 6 Ron Capps
No. 14 Chad Green vs. No. 3 Robert Hight
No. 10 Blake Alexander vs. No. 7 Alexis DeJoria
No. 15 Terry Haddock vs. No. 2 Bob Tasca III
Like Top Fuel, I’ll go chalk early with Force, Wilkerson, Todd, Pedregon, Capps, Hight, DeJoria and Tasca III all advancing. In the next round, I’ll take Force to make his 3rd semis in the last 4 races due to Wilkerson having 4 straight races and 5 of the last 6 of not getting out of the second round. I’ll go Todd in a narrow margin over Pedregon in a heavyweight matchup. Todd, has 3 straight semifinal appearances with 2 of them he marched all the way to the finals. Pedregon, has 2 straight semis himself. To close out the top half, give me Force as he’s 4-2 against Todd this season to match to his 5th final round appearance this season.
In the bottom part of the bracket, I’ll go with Capps since Hight hasn’t made it past the second round in 5 of the last 6 races and DeJoria to remain undefeated against Tasca III this season (3-0) to march to her 4th semi in the last 7 races.
Capps, in his 5th semi in the last 7 races, gets to his 3rd final of his season and sets up a highly entertaining and popular final round of No. 6 Capps vs. No. 1 Force.
Capps is winless in the US Nationals and has just 1 Indy win of his career. That came last year in one of the new races that they filled to get a season in. In 578 prior starts, he has 67 career wins. None of which are in the Big Go.
Meanwhile, Force is eyeing his fifth US Nationals triumph.
I’ll take Force.
Parity has been high in this class. We’ve had 5 straight different winners and 11 in 12 years. Erica Enders is the only repeat winner since 2009. She is the 3 seed going against Bruno Massel in Round 1.
Kyle Koretsky earned his first No. 1 qualifier of his career and takes on an upset minded Morgan. Who wins?
No. 16 Morgan vs. No. 1 Koretsky
No. 9 Brogdon vs. No. 8 Chris McGaha
No. 12 Mason McGaha vs. No. 5 Kenny Delco
No. 13 Fernando Cuadro Jr. vs. No. 4 Dallas Glenn
No. 11 Aaron Stanfield vs. No. 6 Matt Hartford
No. 14 Bruno Massel vs. No. 3 Erica Enders
No. 10 Deric Kramer vs. No. 7 Greg Anderson
No. 15 Cristian Cuadra vs. No. 2 Troy Coughlin Jr.
I’ll go with Koretsky vs. McGaha, an upset of Mason McGaha over Delco and facing off against No. 4 Glenn in Round 2. The McGaha’s will lose though in the second round with Chris being a first or second round defeat in 6 straight races and 7 of the last 8 with Mason 4 straight.
Koretsky vs. Glenn is a heavy matchup. Glenn has 2 finals in the last 3 races and Koretsky 3 semis in the last 4. Glenn just beat Koretsky in the finals in Topeka and this is the 3rd straight race and 5th time they’ve faced each other this season. Glenn holds the advantage 3-2 but I think Koretsky gets the best of him now and advances to his third career final round appearance.
In the bottom half, Hartford has been a second round defeat in 3 straight races while Enders has been to 3 semis in the last 4 races. I’ll take her to advance to the semis again to face off against Anderson who will make his 84th career semifinal appearance.
Enders is 2-1 against Anderson this season including a win the last time they’ve met in the finals at Norwalk. I’ll advance her to her 58th career final round.
No. 3 Enders vs. No. 1 Koretsky.
They’re 1-1 against each other but I feel like this year’s US Nationals will be one for the ages with close finishes and legends taking home Wally’s. Torrence, Force…Enders? I’ll take it here.
Pro Stock Motorcycles
4 straight years with a different winner here. Do we get a 5th?
Eddie Krawiec is the top qualifier for the 49th time of his career. He missed the first two races but in the 6 races he’s competed in this year, he’s made it to the semis in 4 of them. He goes against Andrew Hines in a titanic matchup in Round 1. Hines has won 56 times of his career with Krawiec 48. Hines, just made it to the final in Sonoma and has 2 semi final appearances in the last 3 races.
No. 16 Hines vs. No. 1 Krawiec
No. 9 Phillips vs. No. 8 Karen Stoffer
No. 12 Joey Gladstone vs. No. 5 Angie Smith
No. 13 Jianna Salinas vs. No. 4 Hector Arana Jr.
No. 11 Ryan Oehler vs. No. 6 Matt Smith
No. 14 Tornow vs. No. 3 Scotty Pollacheck
No. 10 Cory Reed vs. No. 7 Angelle Sampey
No. 15 Ingwersen vs. No. 2 Steve Johnson
We’ve got to have a big upset sometime. Here’s one with No. 16 Hines over Krawiec. I’ll take Stoffer over Phillips for her 3rd second round appearance in 4 races and 4 in the last 6. I’ll go Angie Smith who’s not lost in the first round since the season opener and Arana Jr. besting Salinas who’s lost in the first round in each of the last 4 races.
Give me Hines into the semis since Stoffer has made it past the second round just twice this season and Arana Jr. to face him with Angie Smith having a 2nd round loss for 3 straight races now and just one appearance out of the second round all season.
In the bottom half, I’ll go Matt Smith who’s not lost in the first round all year, Tornow over Pollacheck in another upset with Pollacheck being a 1st round loss in 4 of the last 5 races, Sampey over Reed and Johnson over Ingwersen.
Matt Smith advances to his 7th semi final in 9 races this year and goes against Angelle Sampey.
I’ll take another big matchup of No. 6 Matt Smith vs. No. 16 Andrew Hines for the finals.
Matt Smith has won 30 times in his career but no wins in the Big Go since 2007. Andrew Hines won in 2012 and 2016.
I’ll take Matt Smith for the W.