Gainesville Pep Boys All-Star Top Fuel Callout

For more than fifty years, drag race fans have been making the annual journey to Gainesville, Florida, to watch the fastest drivers on the planet compete for pride, points, and prize money. This year was no exception as Gainesville Raceway hosted the Pep Boys NHRA All-Star Top Fuel Callout in conjunction with 55th annual Gatornationals.

The Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout is a specialty race that began in 2022 featuring a field composed of the top eight finishers from last season. The number one seed goes first and gets to name their first round opponent. After round one, whoever had the lowest ET gets to pick their opponent for first for the second round of the All-Star Callout

Once again, the unique format delivered can’t-miss racing action from the Top Fuel stars of the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series. The lineup for the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout included five world champions, along with a couple of record-breaking drivers, and the winners of the first two Pep Boys specialty races at Gainesville.

Eight Stars in Search of Bragging Rights

The top eight seeds in Top Fuel for the All-Star Callout from the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series were ready to compete in the third annual Pep Boys specialty event. The list of Top Fuel stars included four-time world champion Steve Torrence, Doug Kalitta, Mike Salinas, Josh Hart, Brittany Force, Antron Brown and Shawn Langdon.

Steve Torrence, who won the initial Pep Boys All-Star Callout, went first and picked last season’s All-Star winner at Gainesville Josh Hart. Up next was defending Top Fuel NHRA World Champion Doug Kalitta, who was quick to callout two-time Top Fuel champion Brittany Force, who holds the fastest and quickest Top Fuel runs in NHRA history.

Defending Gatornationals winner Mike Salinas is also the first driver in NHRA history to go 300 mph in the 1/8 mile. Salinas selected Justin Ashley the driver of the SCAG Power Equipment Top Fuel dragster and winner of six nationals in 2023. By default, three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Antron Brown called out Shawn Langdon who won the 2013 Top Fuel title.

Round One: Pep Boys All-Star Callout

Winner of the 2013 Gatornationals Antron Brown was first up against longtime rival Shawn Langdon. The Kalitta Air dragster of Langdon nailed the hole shot with a .053-seconds reaction time but Brown quickly made up the distance and powered as Langdon had mechanical problems early in the run. Brown advanced to the semifinal round

Mike Salinas and the Scrappers Racing Top Fuel dragster were sporting new sponsorship from Brumos Collection was next up against Justin Ashley. The SCAG Power Equipment Top Fuel dragster got away from the tree first but both drivers struggle with getting the power to the pavement and pedaled their way to the finish line. Salinas advanced with a 4.192 ET at 291.51 mph.

Defending NHRA Top Fuel Champion didn’t hesitate to call out three-time NHRA World Champion Brittany Forces. Kalitta nailed a .049-seconds reaction time in the MAC Tools Top Fuel dragster to Force’s .090 RT. But, Kalitta almost immediately overpowered the tricky concrete pad at Gainesville Raceway and had to lift a couple of times. Force advanced with a smooth 331.28 mph pass.

Four-time NHRA Top Fuel World Champion Steve Torrence called out defending Pep Boys All-Star Callout winner Josh Hart in his R&L Carriers dragster. The CAPCO Contracting Toyota of Torrence was left at tree after Hart deep staged and carded a .030-seconds reaction time. But, the Ocala-native’s run was short lived when the engine let go. Torrence ran 336.32 mph to advance.

Semifinal Round: Pep Boys All-Star Callout

With Steve Torrence picking Antron Brown, it left Mike Salinas and Brittany Force paired for the semifinal of the Pep Boys NHRA All-Star Callout. Salinas was off tree with .068-second reaction time over Force’s lazy .147 RT. The Scrappers dragster spun the tires as the more patient approach of the Monster Energy team allowed Force to steady motor her way to a final round matchup.

With half the field eliminated, Torrence had honors and picked his good friend Brown as his semifinal opponent. With both of the driver’s crews trying to figure out just how much speed the track could hold, it was close off the start with Brown posting a .055 RT to Torrence’s .072-seconds reaction time. In the best race of the day, Brown advanced to the final with 3.761 ET to Torrence’s 3.765 ET.

Final Round: Pep Boys All-Star Callout

On paper, the AB Motorsports Matco Tools Top Fuel team of Antron Brown entered the Final Round with a slim advantage over the John Force Monster Energy dragster of Brittany Force... but that’s on paper and both drivers are multi-time national champions.

If this was Antron Brown’s race to lose, he didn’t. The Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster left the tree at .053-seconds RT to the .085 reaction time for the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster of Force. Neither driver had to lift as the flames from both engines lit the night’s sky at Gainesville. Brown took the win with a 3.709 ET at 332.43 mph as Force’s engine let go at the line.

Antron Brown and his team outperformed the competition when it counted and took home the $80,000 purse and top honors in the Top Fuel division of the Pep Boys NHRA All-star Callout to begin his 2024 drag racing season. Brown praised the determination of his AB Motorsports team to never give up on what had been a difficult day of qualifying.

Artwork courtesy of NHRA



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