Monday, July 22, 2024

2021 NHRA Gatornationals Sportsman Preview

2021 Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals Lucas Oil Sportsman series event preview.

GAINESVILLE – For the first time ever, at least I believe it’s never happened, the NHRA national event tour will open the 2021 season with the Amalie Gatornationals in Florida. Traditionally the season kicks off in Pomona, Calif. each year but due to continued COVID restrictions on the west coast, the Gatornationals will take the lead off position. This should make the prestigious event even more so as racers flock to Florida for warm weather and racing.

The Gatornationals always draws a huge crowd as it’s during spring break, the weather is warm, and racers from the Northeast look to escape the winter weather in search of win lights and trophies.

This year the Gatornationals will showcase over 370 Lucas Oil sportsman racers competing in eight different classes. The schedule includes Competition Eliminator, Super Stock, Stock Eliminator, Super Comp, Super Gas, Top Sportsman, Top Dragster, and Factory Stock Showdown.

The four-day NHRA schedule is in place at Gainesville which includes qualifying and time runs for the Lucas Oil classes on Thursday. After preliminary runs on Thursday, racers will move into final eliminations on Friday morning. Saturday will greet racers with additional rounds of eliminations while the final few rounds will be completed on Sunday.

Before we look ahead to the 2021 Gatornationals, let’s look back at last season’s champions. Highlights of the 2020 event included the Pro classes being cancelled as the COVID shutdowns began the week of the race. Without the Pro’s on site, the Lucas Oil competitions shined bright with David Latino becoming the 27th driver to double up at an NHRA National Event.

Latino defeated Frank Aragona in Stock and Anthony Bertozzi in Super Stock. Bertozzi also made the Top Dragster final but came up short to Laris Motorsports Insurance’s own Ross Laris. Find full 2020 race results here.

2020 NHRA Gatornationals Nationals Champions

Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series

Competition Eliminator – Brad Plourd

Super Stock – David Latino

Stock Eliminator – David Latino

Super Comp – Ray Miller III

Super Gas – Jonathan Anderson

Top Sportsman – Sandy Wilkins

Top Dragster – Ross Laris


2021 NHRA Gatornationals Nationals Predictions

With each NHRA national event DragChamp’s sportsman preview includes an overview of each class. In addition, we select the DragChamp Picks to win the race. Here are this week’s picks.

Competition Eliminator – 31 Car Field

The Comp class is well represented this weekend with one of the largest fields’ the class has seen in a while. The field includes past World Champions Frank Aragona, Dean Carter, and David Nickens along with three HEMI Shootout cars.

DragChamp pick to win:

Pete D’Agnolo – Talented D1 runner is a heck of a wheelman which will be needed to navigate the tough field.

Super Stock – 60 Car Field

2020 class champ David Latino returns to Gainesville looking for a repeat of his double last season. He’ll have to contend with the likes of Anthony Bertozzi, Jeff Taylor, Jimmy Hildalgo Jr., Justin Jenkins, Tim Fletcher and a host of other talented racers.

DragChamp picks to win:

Steve Szupka – Division 1 hitter is a win looking for a place to happen.

Mike Crutchfield – D2 runner always seems to make some noise early in the season.

Anthony Bertozzi – Has a tremendous track record at the Gators.

Stock Eliminator – 63 Car Field

Wes Neely

Racers from five different Divisions make up the 63 car Stock Eliminator field in Gainesville. David Latino was hot last season but look out for D4 runner Wes Neely as he’s coming off a big win last week in Louisiana and a runner-up at the Baby Gators. Dan Fletcher, Alli Doll, and Jeff Strickland are just a few of the heavy hitters on the entry list.

DragChamp picks to win:

Jeff Strickland – I’m picking Strick for the second straight year as he’s due for a breakout performance.

Shane Oakes – The D1 player is a consistent late round finisher.

Steve Foley – Talented bottom bulb racer is due to win on the big stage. And he’s just plan funny…listen to this.

Super Comp – 61 Car Field

Ross Laris

As usual, the Gatornationals Super Comp field is heavy on talent! The entry list includes last year’s event winner Ray Miller III, recent D2 LODRS winner Johnny Labbous, Jason Kenny, and the top-end throttle stop master Chris Garretson.

Sherman Adcock comes into the weekend fresh off a big weekend at the Baby Gators where he made the finals in Super Comp and Super Gas.

DragChamp picks to win:

Sherman Adcock Jr. – Momentum is on his side!

Ross Laris – The Laris family has brought home a Gatornationals Wally the last two seasons and judging by his win at the Baby Gators, Ross could make it a three-peat.

Jason Kenny – Coming off a huge 2020 season which could spell trouble for the rest of the field.

Super Gas – 60 Car Field

Jonathan Anderson

Like all the class in Gainesville, the talent in the Super Gas field runs deep. Sherman Adcock leads the field coming off a big weekend at the Baby Gators. He’s joined by names such as Kenny, Labbous, Miller, and Anderson (last year’s event winner). Former SG World Champ Ron Orbin is on the entry in the same ’77 Vega Wagon that he would the championship in back in the 80’s!

DragChamp picks to win:

Greg Slack – Came out firing in 2020, would love a repeat in 2021.

Jonathan Anderson – D2 ace won in a borrowed ride last year, let’s see if he can park his new roadster on the dance floor this week.

Steve Furr – The Fuzz is always a threat in his Camaro.

Top Sportsman – 34 Car Field (only 32 cars qualify)

Allen Firestone Houston LODRS
Allen Firestone

Two-time defending event champion Sandy Wilkins has dominated this event in recent years. He’ll look for a third straight this weekend but to do so he’ll have to outlast four of the Top 10 racers in the country including Allen Firestone, Ron Riegel, Dusty Meyer, and John Benoit. Speaking of Riegel, he earned the TS victory at the Baby Gators!

DragChamp picks to win:

Allen Firestone – Oklahoma based runner has been consistently good over the last couple of seasons as evidenced by the #2 on his window.

Dusty Meyer – D5 runner has been a consistent fixture in national event winners circles.

Top Dragster – 35 Car Field (only 32 cars qualify)

With 35 cars on the entry list, the Top Dragster bump could get interesting as I expect the 6.10 index to get drilled more than a few times this weekend. Defending event champ Ross Laris comes in hot once again after doubling up at the Baby Gators (TD and SC). 2020 World Champ Anthony Bertozzi should be a player after collecting a win and a runner-up in the class the last two seasons.

DragChamp picks to win:

Bad Brad Plourd – Last season’s Comp champ moves to TD this year, he could create problems for the rest of the field.

Danny Nelson – The 2019 World Champ finished third last season. He has a great handle on his setup and has driven lights out over the last couple of seasons.

Factory Stock Showdown – 30 Car Field

Aaron Stanfield

After Aaron Stanfield crushed the field at the end of last season, we’ll see if any of the other teams have caught up over the long winter break.

DragChamp pick to win:

Aaron Stanfield– Until someone stops him, I’m going to keep picking him!

DragChamp is your source for NHRA Lucas Oil sportsman drag racing news and drag race results.

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