What’s at stake: 5 things I’m watching for Sunday’s Top Fuel eliminations in the Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals

Brittany Force’s Turn At Indy Glory?

The “Big Go” is huge for the Force family. They’ve combined to have 10 US Nationals crowds between them or their extended family. John Force has won 5 of these himself. Ashley Force Hood has won 2. Robert Hight is married to one of John Force’s daughters. He’s won 3 times. Is it now Brittany Force’s turn?

After being on the outside looking in following the first two rounds of qualifying, Force not only moved her way in on Saturday, she went to the top on Sunday with a track record effort or 337 mph. This is the 2nd straight year she was the No. 1 qualifier here. Last year, she was bounced in the finals by Steve Torrence. That’s the same driver who beat her in Saturday’s Callout finals.

Can she pick up a win and get revenge on Monday?

She only has 2 final round appearances in the last 8 races on the season. However, she still holds the points lead and has won 15 times on her career, 4 of which this season alone. She’s due for an Indy win.

Steve Torrence at the Big Go in the US Nationals. Photo Credit: NHRA Media Site

Will Steve Torrence Go Back-To-Back?

Steve Torrence has won 4 straight Top Fuel championships. However, this hasn’t been a great start to his 2022 season. As we reach the end of the regular season, he’s only had 1 Wally. However, that did occur the last time out in Brainerd. Can he win for the 2nd straight race weekend?

If so, it would be his 2nd straight victory in the US Nationals and 4th of his career here which would tie him with Larry Dixon for 3rd most all-time in Top Fuel history at IRP.

He was the No. 3 qualifier and won the Callout on Sunday so the momentum is on his side.

Torrence has won 35 races in that 4 year span of titles as well as 8 more wins during his runner-up finish in the standings in 2017. To have 1 win this year is shocking. But maybe he’s heating up at the right time too.

Kalitta And Brown Hoping To Not Fall Out Of Countdown

Doug Kalitta has 49 career wins and 13 playoff appearances. 4 of the last 6 years he’s finished in the top 3 in points. Antron Brown also has 13 playoff appearances and 68 wins. He’s a 3-time Top Fuel champion.

Each are on the danger zones heading into the weekend. Kalitta is 9th in points (+53) with Brown in 10th (+29). Clay Millican (-29) and Austin Prock (-29) are trying to force their ways in with this weekend’s race being the final one of the regular season.

There’s a chance that either one or both of Kalitta and Brown won’t make the playoffs. That would be shocking.

Kalitta was 2nd in points in both 2019 and again in 2020. However, he’s on a 38 race winless drought. Brown has a new team that’s self owned but he did just win in Topeka 2 races ago. Can both do enough on Monday to ensure that they’ll be a part of the Countdown and each earn their 14th career playoff berth?

Kalitta holds the record with 24 straight seasons with a top 10 finish in Top Fuel. He also holds the record for most career wins (49) without a title too. He’s finished runner-up in the standings five times but has never celebrated a season’s championship.

Kalitta won this race in 2019 with Brown in Top Fuel in 2011 and Pro Stock Bikes in 2000 and 2004.

Tony Schumacher this weekend in the Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals. Photo Credit: NHRA Media Site

Schumacher Is Back

Instead of being in his racing suit last year, the all-time winningest NHRA winner and driver with the most US National Wally’s Tony Schumacher donned a different suit for most race weekends. He traded the cockpit for the broadcast booth.

That lasted one season. The “Sarge” is back. He’ll pilot one of these 11,000 horsepower beasts this weekend. That’s a massive storyline to see Schumacher back vying for his 11th US Nationals crown on Monday.

It almost didn’t happen. It took until the 4th round of qualifying for Schumacher to move his way into the field.

He won his first race of the season 3 races ago in Washington and enters with some momentum. He last won a Wally here at the Big Go in 2016 so he’s due.

Justin Ashley this weekend in the Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals. Photo Credit: NHRA Media Site

Lucky Number 4 For Justin Ashley

He made a name for himself here as a rookie a few years back. Now, can the youngster put his namesake in racing immortality via a US Nationals triumph?

He’s been quick all weekend. After being P1 on Friday night, Steve Torrence took the top spot back on Saturday afternoon in Q2. But in Q3, Ashley responded by setting a track record and moving back to the top spot. While Brittany Force topped him on Sunday, he’ll still be the No. 2 qualifier on Monday.

Ashely sits 4th in points entering the weekend. The 27-year old New York native has 4 career wins, was 4th in last year’s final points and competing in his 4th full-time season.

Is it lucky No. 4 for Ashley?

This is the 4th time he’s qualified 2nd. His car number….4

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