NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

NHRA New England Nationals Sunday News and Notes

News, notes, quotes, and photos, from the final day of the NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway. Updated throughout the day.
02 Jun 2024
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
Dan Wilkerson

News, notes, quotes, and  photos, from the final day of the NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway. Updated throughout the day.


On Saturday, officials from NHRA and New England Dragway jointly announced a sell-out crowd for the 13th annual NHRA New England Nationals and more of the same is expected for Sunday's final eliminations. Folloiwng a rain-out last year, were final eliminations were finished in Bristol, this year's event has been blessed with three days of picture perfect weather. The Epping event comes on the heels of two days of sell out crowds in Phoenix. 


Folloiwng Julie Biermann’s Stock Eliminator win in Chicago, the watch is on as NHRA looks to crown it’s 100th different female national event winner. At this point there are three Lucas Oil Series sportsman drivers who could earn that honor in Epping. Angela Kinson is down to the last five entries in Super Street while Kelly Kundratic and Tori Iacono have made it down to the quarterfinal round in Super Comp.



Clay Millican and the Parts Plus team have had their share of ups and downs this season, but their New England Nationals is off to a strong start after they scored a win against Mission Challenge runner-up Dan Mercier in round one. Millican was off the starting line first and powered to a 3.848 to Mercier’s 4.027.


The best race of the round? It would be hard to argue against the Billy Torrence vs. Jasmine Salinas battle which was decided by just six thousandths of a second at the finish line. Torrence was off the mark first and turned on the win light with a 3.793, barely holding off Salinas’ 3.790. Torrence kicked off the season with a runner-up finish in Gainesville and went to the semi’s in Pomona. He entered the Epping event as the No. 6 ranked driver in the class.


Tony Schumacher admittedly didn’t run well in qualifying and his 4.170 in round one wasn’t exactly a work of art, but it was enough to turn on the win light after Brittany Force smoked the tires at half track. Schumacher, the No. 14 qualifier, picked up his fourth round win of the season, three of which came in his runner-up finish in Pomona.


The biggest surprise of the round came when Josh Hart took out Justin Ashley. Hart won his third round of the season with a 3.848 in his R+L Carriers dragster after Ashley smoked the tires. On the starting line, Hart cut a very respectable .054 light, but was still away second after Ashley cut an .032, the best light of the round. Ashley, the incoming championship leader, had not previously lost in the first round this season. Despite the loss, he still carries a 14-5 record in elimination rounds through the first seven events.

Round two pairings (lane choice first): Shawn Langdon vs. Billy Torrence; Steve Torrence vs. Clay Millican; Tony Stewart vs. Doug Kalitta; Josh Hart vs. Tony Schumacher.  



Daniel Wilkerson picked up a round win for the SCAG team with a 4.089 after opponent Cory Lee smacked the wall with the New Englander entry. Lee wasn’t hurt, but his 5.481 was no match for Wilkerson, who has already been to a final round this season and is coming off a semifinal at his home event in Chicago. Wilkerson began the weekend in the No. 6 spot in the Mission Foods Funny Car standings.


John Force won Saturday’s Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge via a holeshot but did not need a quick light to win his Sunday match against Buddy Hull. Force drove his PEAK Camaro to a 3.967 to advance after Hull rattled the tires and shut off early in the left lane.


A marquee matchup if there ever was one, Matt Hagan and Ron Capps squared off in a battle between drivers who have won seven world titles since 2011. In a slightly shocking turn of events, Capps overcame a tough qualifying performance to wheel his NAPA Toyota to a 4.045 to 4.185 victory over Hagan, who is not only coming off a win in Chicago, but is also the most successful driver in the history of New England Dragway with four wins. For Capps, the victory represented his first round win since Las Vegas, where he went to the final of the 4-Wide event.


Blake Alexander won’t have to wait long to avenge Saturday’s final round loss in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge as he’s scheduled to face John Force in round two. Alexander should be a formidable opponent for the 16-time champ after driving to a 4.002 in his round one win over Terry Haddock. Alexaner is also coming off his best showing of the season with a semifinal at Route 66 Raceway two weeks ago.

Round two pairings (lane choice first): Ron Capps vs. Daniel Wilkerson; Bob Tasca III vs. J.R. Todd; John Force vs. Blake Alexander; Austin Prock vs. Chad Green.


Count Deric Kramer as one of the drivers who could use a get healthy weekend and so far, he’s off to a good start after driving his GetBioFuel Camaro to a win over Eric Latino. Kramer, looking to break into the Top 10, left first by six hundredths, and extended the advantage to the finish line with a 6.593 to 6.615 victory. Kramer previously won just two rounds this season, both of them in Pomona.


In a classic case of wrong place at wrong time, championship leader Greg Anderson left the starting line with a .021 light and ran a respectable 6.594  in his HendrickCars.com Camaro, but the win light did not come on in his lane. Opponent Aaron Stanfield gave up a couple of hundredths at the starting line with a .045 light, but had enough power to win by seven-thousandths wit ha 6.563.


Matt Hartford has admittedly made great strides with his GETTRX Camaro since his back-to-back DNQs in Las Vegas and Charlotte earlier this season but he wasn’t able to turn on a win light in Epping after shaking the tires in round one. Hartford slowed to a 7.155 allowing Chris McGaha to skate by with a 6.600 in his Harlow Sammons Camaro. McGaha will even have lane choice when he takes on Jerry Tucker in round two.


Low E.T. of the round changed hands several times from Jeg Coughlin Jr. (6.558), to Troy Coughlin Jr. (6.555), before finally settling with low qualifier Erica Enders, who defeated Fernando Cuadra Jr, 6.554 to a shut off 6.697. Enders led the championship standings after the Four Wide Nationals in Las Vegas but slipped to No. 3 after Chicago. She’s on pace to move up following her win, and a loss by Greg Anderson.

Round two pairings (lane choice first): Chris McGaha vs. Jerry Tucker; Jeg Coughlin Jr. vs Dallas Glenn; Troy Coughlin Jr. vs. Aaron Stanfield; Erica Enders vs. Deric Kramer.



It took six runs, but Tony Schumacher made his first three second run of the weekend in round two with a 3.880, and that was enough to send the Leatherwood Distilleries team into the semifinals for the first time since Phoenix. Schumacher defeated Josh Hart, who smoked the tires just off the starting line.


Despite his longevity and previous success, Clay Millican is sometimes underrated as a Top Fuel driver and he reminded us why in round two when he scored a holeshot win against Steve Torrence. Millican left first .036 to .061, and held on for a 3.841 to 3.835 win against the four-time champion.


After a week where his NASCAR team dominated the motorsports news cycle, Tony Stewart admitted that he was happy to be back behind the wheel of his TSR Nitro Top Fuel dragster in Epping. Stewart did everything right with a .055 light and a 3.848, but he came up short against world champ Doug Kalitta, who was ahead by two thousandths at the finish line with a 3.841 in his Mac Tools dragster,

Semifinal pairings (lane choice first): Clay Millican vs. Tony Schumacher; Doug Kalitta vs. Shawn Langdon.


One day after honoring the memory two-time world champion Scott Kalitta with their annual lobster dinner, all three Kalitta Motorsports entries are in the semifinals after J.R. Tood took care of business against defending event winner Bob Tasca III in round two. Todd ran a 4.079 in the DHL Toyota Supra that was enough to beat Tasca’s slowing 4.325. Todd, winner of the Gainesville season opener, is coming off a round one loss in Chicago. He entered Epping as the No. 4 ranked driver in the class.


Three second runs were at a premium during the heat of the day in Epping but that didn’t stop Austin Prock from continuing his rampage through the Funny Car field. Prock, the low qualifier recorded an impressive 3.93 to not only stop Chad Green, but also earn lane choice for his semifinal race against Daniel Wilkerson, who also made an impressive run with a 4.022 in his win against Ron Capps.

Semifinal pairings (lane choice first). John Force vs. J.R. Todd; Austin Prock vs. Daniel Wilkerson.


Will Jerry Don Tucker become NHRA’s next first-time pro winner? That is a distinct possibility as the second year Pro Stock driver contoinues to make steady progress including his third semifinal of the season. Tucker drove his Outlaw Mile-Hi Light Beer Camaro to a 6.611 in hid quarterfinal win against Chris McGaha, who shook the tires as soon as he dumped the clutch pedal.


Jeg Coughlin Jr. is NHRA’s all-time leader in holeshot wins but every now and then, even the best get a taste of their own medicine. That happened in round two where “Double 0” Dallas Glenn left on the five-time world champion and held on for a 6.628to 6.604 victory. Glenn has already won 18 rounds through the first seven events of the season and has extended his lead in the Championship standings.


Deric Kramer took his time staging against Erica Enders but it seemed to have little effect on the six-time champion as she held on for a narrow 6.578 to 6.593 victory in their quarterfinal bout. Kramer did get off the starting line first, .027 .037, but it wasn’t enough as Enders pulled through to win by five-thousandths of a second.

Semifinal pairings (lane choice first): Troy Coughlin Jr. vs. Dallas Glenn; Erica Enders vs. Jerry Tucker.


From the 14th qualifying spot, Tony Schumacher will go to the final round after defeating Clay Millican in the semifinals. Shumacher, set to appear in career final No. 159, made his best run of the weekend with a 3.863 to stop Clay Millican, who fell off to a 5.664. Schumacher previously won back-to-back Epping titles in 2014 and 2015.

Schumacher will face an old rival in Doug Kalitta, who downed teammate Shawn Langdon, 3.848 to 3.884. Kalitta has never won at New England Dragway, the last current track on the NHRA tour where he remains winless. Kalitta will have lane choice when he faces Schumacher.


After winning yesterday’s Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, John Force will have an opportunity to double up as he appears in his 258th career final round. Force powered to a 3.994 to defeat  J.R. Todd’s 4.050 in the semifinals. Force is off to his best start in years, reaching his third final round in the first seven events of 2024.

By a thousandth of a second, Force will give up lane choice against his teammate, Austin Prock, who topped Daniel Wilkerson in a great side-by-side race, 3.993 to 4.013. Prock and Force have raced just once, with Prock taking the win earlier this year in the quarterfinals of the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals.


Troy Coughlin Jr. will take on his Elite Performance teammate Erica Enders in the Epping Pro Stock final. Coughlin faced down a tough opponent when he stopped Dallas Glenn and his RAD Torque Systems Camaro in the semfinals. Coughlin drove to a 6.610 to beat Glenn’s 6.633.

Coughlin will  face an even tougher opponent in the final round as he takes on Enders, who earned lane choice with a strong 6.574 win against Jerry Tucker’s 6.624. Enders will race in a final for the 83rd time in her career as she seeks her landmark 50th professional victory. Enders most recent win came at the season-opener in Gainesville.


Joe Lisa def. Joe Santangelo II

Don Pires def. Ralph Porpora

Michael Handras def. Stephen Logan

Hank Smith def. Jason Kenny

Brian Sawyer def. Ray Butler

Scott Douglas def. Paul Neal

Matt Harper def. Richard Lachapelle

Mason Wright def. Jordan Lazic