Phil Hutchison and courtesy NHRA Communications

Under perfect racing conditions, Pro qualifying is complete and Sportsman racing is deep into eliminations at the NHRA Mopar Express Nationals at Maple Grove Dragway.

The day, with optimum air and traction featured record times and plenty of drama for the event, the first time for the NHRA big show to returned to the Pennsylvania facility since COVID 19 cancelled last years race.

For the first time in more than six years, Cruz Pedregon is the No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car, as the veteran claimed the top spot on Saturday to close out qualifying at the 36th annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Maple Grove Raceway.

Pedregon  powered to a run of 3.875-seconds at 326.00 mph in his Snap-On Tools Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Brittany Force set a track record 3.660 at 334.07 in her Flav-R-Pac dragster

Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also qualified No. 1 at the 14th of 20 races during the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season and the first race in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

Erica Enders put the Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro in the #1 spot with a 6.524 at 209.56.

Angelle Sampey has her Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki on a tear taking the top spot in Pro Stock Bike with a 6.745 at 196.64.

Robin Samsel (far lane) beating Dan Page in Round 2 of T/AD

The Pro cars didn’t take all the big news at Maple Grove. Top Alcohol Dragster racer, Robin Samsel from Marion IN shook up the show with a mind boggling 5.139 @ 279.61 MPH putting his A/FD into tomorrow’s third round of eliminations.

Samsel, up against New England car builder Dan Page in round two, ran his career best in the win. Page, after being a force in the class having won his share of races, was back in competition and ran a good 5.292 but it paled to Samsel’s track record time.

In an upset, recent US Nationals champ, Jackie Fricke, lost to Duane Shields in R2  as her car slowed to a 5.442 to Shields improving 5.24.

The S-10 of Chip Ippolito from Laconia NH is going into Sunday’s Competition Eliminator semifinals. 

Bobby Fazio’s stick shift SS/L Mustang will face Byron Worner’s SS/IA Camaro on Sunday in Super Stock.  

Keith Mayers’ unique Porsche is racing in Super Gas at Maple Grove. Keith is up against Jason Kenny in Sunday’s Semis.

Recent LODRS winner in Super Street at the LODRS at Maple Grove, Taylor Iacono, behind the wheel of her dragster, races Tom Stalba in the semi finals of Super Comp.