Antron Brown, Matt Hagan, Angie Smith and Erica Enders win the Dodge Las Vegas Nationals, 2020 Champions crowned

On the final race day of the season, NHRA drivers, and teams took to the track for their 11th and final race of the year after a crazy chaotic season due to COVID-related issues.

While there were race winners to be celebrated, champions in every class such as Funny Car, Top Fuel, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle were yet to be decided as well.

Top Fuel


American Muscle

Coming into the last race of the year, Steve Torrence was looking to end on a high note after claiming victories as of late. He also had an opponent to watch out for as well, and that included his rival Doug Kalitta who still had a mathematical shot as each elimination was awarded 30 additional points to the respective winner of their round.

For Torrence, it was simple. All he had to do was just win and move on to the next round. The same can also be said for Kalitta. When the first round came, Torrence was already moving after getting the victory over Kebin Kinsley by going 3.736 seconds and 325.45 mph to advance to Round 2. Now, the Texan had to wait, and watch Kalitta do his job. Unfortunately for Kalitta, he was eliminated early after falling to Justin Ashley and ending his 2020 season early. With Kalitta out early, Torrence had the title wrapped up in his hands for the third time in his career and the second consecutive after winning last year.

However, just because the championship was already decided, a race winner for the Top Fuel class wasn’t. Antron Brown earned a Round 1 victory over last week’s winner Tony Schumacher by going 3.720 seconds and 326.87 mph to advance. Brown would capitalize on that momentum by getting victories over Clay Millican in the second round and Steve’s dad, Billy Torrence, in the semifinals. Brown ended up racing the 2020 Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence in the final round of the season after Steve got victories over Troy Buff in Round 2 and Justin Ashley in the semifinal.

When the final round came, it was a close drag race, as Antron Brown would get the hole shot victory over Torrence with the reaction time of .042 seconds. The Las Vegas victory was Brown’s first of the season and his first victory in over two years with his last victory coming at Seattle in 2018.

“This feels so good. The last race of the year to go out with a win, Lord knows, all the glory goes to him, and at the end of the day we had so many people that stuck with us this season,” said Brown who closed out the year ranked fifth in the Top Fuel standings.

“Getting (crew chief) Brian Corradi back in our stable and teaming up again with Mark Oswald and Brad Mason and the rest of this Matco team has been incredible. There are so many people who have stuck by us. The TRD support is amazing and Global Electronic Technology coming aboard this year, and Hangsterfer’s has been so loyal to us. Our supporters give us the motivation, and we beat the resistance with persistence. We have a great staff at DSR. We never gave up or quit. We put our heads down and Brian and Mark and the guys just kept marching forward. It feels so good to end the season with a win. We know we have our work cut out for us in ’21. We’re going to keep improving and working hard. We’ve got a great place to start next season. We can run with anybody out there. We just have to get better, be more consistent and do what we do and that’s win rounds. When you win rounds, you win races and when you win races you win championships.”

Antron Brown Hoist the Wally for the First Time This Season, Photo Courtesy of Auto Imagery

As Brown celebrated the victory, Torrence, the Kilgore, Texas native enjoyed the third Top Fuel championship of his career after being runner-up for the third time this season and the 22nd of his career.

“I am excited to win our third championship” he acknowledged, “(but) I’m a big Doug Kalitta fan. I know what it takes to get here, what it takes to be in this position and how hard every one of those guys over there (at Kalitta Racing) work and how hard
Doug’s worked. “The amount of time that he’s spent out here, to come up short, not just one time, but so many times, it’s a mixed emotion for me,” he said. “I know where his head’s at right now. I know how he feels. I’m happy for my team and myself, but I was saddened for Doug and that whole Mac Tools team. They fought so hard. They had a great car.”

Torrence also gave credit to his team following his championship-winning victory and dedicated the title-winning effort to Dom Lagana (crew member for Torrence’s team) who was injured in a car accident following the U.S. Nationals event.

“These (Capco boys) spend countless hours and days and weeks working on this race car and then they give it to me with the hopes that I’m going to go do my job,” Torrence said. “(The Nationals), after Dom’s accident, was extremely difficult. I never found myself in an emotionally motivated situation where you’re trying to do it for your brother (who’s) fighting for his life.

“You want nothing more than to win that race for him (but) I went up there and lost on a holeshot (to Leah Pruett). I didn’t take it well,” he admitted. “I didn’t do my job that race but, fortunately, we were able to redirect our focus. “(Through) nothing short of a miracle and the grace of the Good Lord, Dom he said of the younger brother of car chief Bobby Lagana Jr. “He’s gonna be banged up, in bad shape, but we’re gonna do whatever we have to do to get him back out here with us.”

By winning the Top Fuel championship for the third consecutive time, Torrence made history by tying legendary greats Tony Schumacher and Joe Amato as the only driver to win three Top Fuel Championships. Torrence ends the 2020 season with four victories, three runner-ups and three No. 1 qualifiers.

Steve Torrence Wins His Third Top Fuel Championship, Photo Courtesy of NHRA.

Final Top Fuel Results

  1. Antron Brown
  2. Steve Torrence
  3. Justin Ashley
  4. Billy Torrence
  5. Leah Pruett
  6. Clay Millican
  7. Troy Buff
  8. Doug Kalitta
  9. Jim Maroney
  10. Kebin Kinsley
  11. Shawn Langdon
  12. Cameron Ferre
  13. Chris Karamesines
  14. Tony Schumacher

Funny Car

Three drivers had the chance to compete for the 2020 Funny Car Championship heading into the Las Vegas event. To no surprise of anyone, all three drivers running were all Don Schumacher Racing drivers with those being Matt Hagan, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. After leaving the SpringNationals event in Houston, those three drivers were separated by 43 points with Ron Capps having the slightest opportunity in fourth, but he would need a lot of help in order to make anything happen.

When Saturday rolled around for qualifying, Capps qualified on the pole for the first time this season and the 25th of his career. Jack Beckman would qualify in the 10th position with Matt Hagan in second and Tommy Johnson Jr. good enough for fourth. As qualifying was completed, Hagan left the sessions with 900 overall points. Johnson Jr. trailed in second, 45 points behind, while Beckman was 52 points back in third. Another interesting item to note, if Hagan and Beckman won their respective rounds, they would end up facing each other.

On Sunday, things took a quick turn for the worse. Hagan was able to accomplish his job and win over No. 16 qualifier Cruz Pedregon by going 3.901 seconds and 328.38 mph to advance to Round 2. Next was Jack Beckman who was squaring off against Paul Lee. In an upset, Lee ended Beckman’s championship chances by eliminating Beckman in the first round. However, Hagan still had to worry about Johnson Jr. who won over Jim Campbell and advanced into the second round.

Hagan and Johnson Jr. continued their winning ways by winning in Round 2 as well as the semifinals. Capps on the other hand was also enjoying success by claiming victories over Chris Morel and J.R. Todd. The most intriguing matchup came in the semifinal as Capps was facing his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. Capps fired off a 3.906 seconds and 329.83 mph over Johnson Jr.’s 3.943 seconds and 324.20 mph to move on to the finals. Unfortunately for Johnson Jr., his championship hopes were dashed as well by being eliminated early.

Meanwhile, in the semifinal for Hagan, he was able to clinch the Funny Car championship with a victory over Alexis Dejoria. This eventually set a final round match between the Don Schumacher cars of Hagan and Capps. As the Christmas tree lights went green, Hagan overcame Capps for the victory as Capps’ car blew up, going up in smoke. The victory was Hagan’s third of the season and the 36th of his career.

“Dodge and the DSR fab shop, they’ve put a great race car underneath us. My crew chief Dickie Venables, I can’t say enough about the guy. He’s won me two world championships (2014, 2020) and we’ve runnered-up a few times. There’s a handful of guys on this team who haven’t won a championship before. I’m just so proud to give them that opportunity and I know how bad everybody wanted it. For us to have won three world championships now in this sport, it’s incredible.

“It all comes back down to my guys and the car they put under me. It’s not just me. I try not to mess it up. This is one of the most humbling sports I’ve been involved in and it always seems to come down to the last race and that certainly doesn’t make me look any younger. Thank you to everyone who supports what we do and we hope we made you proud to be a part of this.”

Matt Hagan Wins the 2020 Funny Car Championship, Photo Courtesy of Auto Imagery.

Hagan, who celebrated for the third time in his career winning the Funny Car Championship, is now tied with drivers Raymond Beadle and Robert Hight.

Capps had to settle for yet again another runner-up finish. The second-place finish was Capps’ 60th of his career.

“What a weekend. It all came to plan. Especially getting the No. 1 qualifying spot and that Camping World hat. We did get a lucky break first round, but Rahn Tobler and the NAPA/Pennzoil guys did a great job turning it back around. It went almost to plan until the final round. The car was running great and I’m not sure what happened, but another one of those pretty big explosions. Thanks to Impact for great safety gear and everyone at the DSR fab shop for mounting a great Dodge body. Two wins this year, some finals, a pole, not a bad 2020 season for this NAPA team.”

All four Don Schumacher Racing cars finished one through fourth in points. Hagan first, Johnson Jr. in second, Beckman in third and Capps in fourth. Schumacher also enjoyed a great season by winning all 11 races.

Final Funny Car Results

  1. Matt Hagan
  2. Ron Capps
  3. Tommy Johnson Jr
  4. Alexis Dejoria
  5. Bob Tasca III
  6. Blake Alexander
  7. J.R. Todd
  8. Paul Lee
  9. Jack Beckman
  10. Cruz Pedregon
  11. Terry Haddock
  12. Tim Wilkerson
  13. Jim Campbell
  14. Steven Densham
  15. Dave Richards
  16. Chris Morel

Pro Stock

In the Pro Stock category, Erica Enders, the three-time Pro Stock Champion, was looking forward to defending her 2019 title. Enders entered the final round with a 55 point advantage over second-place Jason Line. Enders qualified her Chevrolet Camaro in the 12th position after going 6.652 seconds and 205.35 mph. Line qualified in the second position, going 6.635 seconds and 206.39 mph.

Line was set to face Cristian Cuadra in Round 1 while Enders was going to square off against Alex Laughlin in her round. As the time came for Enders to face Laughlin, the Houston, Texas native locked up the Pro Stock title after winning over Laughlin by going 6.662 seconds and 205.47 mph. Line had a losing effort in Round 1 after falling to Cuadra.

Despite winning the title early on, Enders was determined to win the race as well. She would move on to the finals after winning over Troy Coughlin Jr. in the second round and Greg Anderson in the semis to set herself up for a final round match with Kyle Koretsky. When those two met in the finals, it was Koretsky who ended up fouling in the left lane, automatically giving the victory to Enders for the fourth time this season and the 29th of her career. Enders is now a four-time champion after winning titles in 2014, 2015, and most recently, in 2019.

“Being able to lock up our fourth world championship and becoming the winningest of all time for females. Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey mean a lot to me and I’m in good company with them. I’ve not had the best year, but this is a lesson that you dig deep, you fight and pray with all the heart, you have every single chase you get because you never know when it’s your last. Richard Freeman gave me this opportunity and I’m a blessed girl.”

Erica Enders Celebrates Fourth NHRA Pro Stock Championship, Photo Courtesy of Chevy Racing.

Laughlin finishes second in points, just 167 points back of Enders.

Final Pro Stock Results

  1. Erica Enders
  2. Kyle Koretsky
  3. Greg Anderson
  4. Cristian Cuadra
  5. Aaron Stanfield
  6. Troy Coughlin Jr
  7. Bo Butner
  8. Matt Hartford
  9. Deric Kramer
  10. Jason Line
  11. Kenny Delco
  12. Jeg Coughlin
  13. Mason McGaha
  14. Chris McGaha
  15. Aaron Strong
  16. Alex Laughlin

Pro Stock Motorcycle

Last, and certainly not least, was the Pro Stock Motorcycle division. Matt Smith in his DENSO Auto Parts/Stockseth/MSR EBR Motorcycle had to worry about one competitor and that was Scotty Pollacheck, who entered the final event 58 points back from the top spot.

On Saturday, Smith qualified in the second position with a time of 6.821 seconds and 198.38 mph while Pollacheck qualified fourth after setting a time of 6.900 seconds and 196.04 mph.

In the first round on Sunday, Pollacheck won over David Barron by going 7.020 seconds and 191.62 mph. Smith got his victory in Round 1 after winning over two-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Angelle Sampey. The victory for Smith set up the second-round match against Andrew Hines, as Pollacheck was set to face Angie Smith. Pollacheck would end up being eliminated by Angie and was unable to move onto any more rounds following the loss.

As for Smith, he got the victory over Hines by going 6.875 seconds and 196.13 mph to advance to the semifinals. By advancing, he would be set to face Steve Johnson in the semifinals. However, Smith would lose the round to Johnson, due to Smith’s bike not going off the starting line. Even though Smith could not race his way into the finals, the second-round win was enough for Smith to win his fourth Pro Stock Motorcycle Championship.

“This was a long hard deal today,” M. Smith said. “That [Vance & Hines] group played their cards right and I had to race them in the first and second rounds. If you want to be the champ you have to beat the champ and I just beat the champ [Hines] to win this, so we are the champions. I can’t thank Denso and Mark Stockseth enough for what they do for me.”

Matt Smith Celebrates Winning the Pro Stock Motorcycle Championship, Photo Courtesy of NHRA.

With winning the championship, Smith now has four titles to his credit and is right up there with names such as Andrew Hines, Dave Schulz and Eddie Krawiec who have four or more championships.

In the final round, Angie Smith rocketed her bike over Steve Johnson to win her first race of the season in just eight starts.

“You never know when you’re going to get back here and I’m so emotional,” A. Smith said. “I want to thank my team. They have built me up and have told me to never give up. This one’s for them.”

Final Pro Stock Motorcycle Results

  1. Angie Smith
  2. Steve Johnson
  3. Hector Arana Jr
  4. Matt Smith
  5. Eddie Krawiec
  6. Andrew Hines
  7. Joey Gladstone
  8. Scotty Pollacheck
  9. Angelle Sampey
  10. Ryan Oehler
  11. Chris Bostick
  12. Katie Sullivan
  13. Kelly Clontz
  14. Cory Reed
  15. David Barron
  16. Freddie Camarena

Final Top Fuel Championship Standings

  1. Steve Torrence, 1,015 points
  2. Doug Kalitta, -193
  3. Billy Torrence, -217
  4. Leah Pruett, -261
  5. Antron Brown, -306
  6. Shawn Langdon, -420
  7. Justin Ashley, -421
  8. Clay Millican, -522
  9. Tony Schumacher, -551
  10. Terry McMillen

Final Funny Car Championship Standings

  1. Matt Hagan, 1,020 points
  2. Tommy Johnson Jr, -105
  3. Jack Beckman, -172
  4. Ron Capps, -192
  5. Bob Tasca III, -341
  6. J.R. Todd, -357
  7. Tim Wilkerson, -405
  8. Alexis Dejoria, -415
  9. Paul Lee, -556
  10. Cruz Pedregon, -584

Final Pro Stock Championship Standings

  1. Erica Enders, 922 points
  2. Jason Line, -167
  3. Jeg Coughlin, -175
  4. Greg Anderson, -229
  5. Matt Hartford, -294
  6. Alex Laughlin, -340
  7. Aaron Stanfield, -359
  8. Chris McGaha, -435
  9. Bo Butner, -445
  10. Deric Kramer, -464

Final Pro Stock Motorcycle Championship Standings

  1. Matt Smith, 703 points
  2. Eddie Krawiec, -110
  3. Scotty Pollacheck, -116
  4. Andrew Hines, -127
  5. Angie Smith, -189
  6. Angelle Sampey, -208
  7. Ryan Oehler, -255
  8. Steve Johnson, -258
  9. Hector Arana Jr, -269
  10. Jerry Savoie, -380

Up Next: The NHRA 2020 season is now complete. The focus will now turn to the offseason and the 2021 season which is currently set to open up at the 52nd annual Gatornationals on March 12-14.


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