CONCORD, N.C. – Steve Torrence “scored one for the little teams” on Sunday afternoon at zMAX Dragway, taking down a pair of the powerhouse Don Schumacher Racing dragsters en-route to his first-career NHRA Four-Wide Nationals win.
Ron Capps (Funny Car) was also a nitro class winner at the sixth of 24 races on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season schedule.
Torrence outlasted eight-time champion Tony Schumacher and three-time season winner Leah Pritchett, as well as journeyman Terry McMillen, in the final quad to score his ninth-career win in his second-straight final round appearance.
With a winning pass of 3.783 seconds at 323.89 mph in his Capco Contractors dragster, the 34-year-old became the first Top Fuel winner from outside the Schumacher stable this season.
“This (win) is top of the list,” Torrence said. “This is (as exciting) as winning a race that you had to pedal it every round or you had to win it on holeshots. This is a driver’s race. We run 24 races a year and only one of them we race four-wide. … It’s very gratifying to come here (and win). This is an awesome race.”
“I was probably the most relaxed I’d been all day in the final round. I knew that we had a good race car.”
Torrence’s win was extra-special due to the passing of a family member to one of his crew members overnight.
“One of the main guys on my team lost his mother last night. I’m very fortunate to have my mother come to all the races and hang out with me. She is the mom to all these guys out here too,” Torrence said. “It makes you take a look at what you have and not it take for granted and be very thankful and appreciative for it.
“We told him we could get the trophy for him and we were able to go out and get it done.”
Schumacher’s U.S. Army dragster finished second on a marginally slower 3.874 at 309.13, marking his 63rd career runner-up finish and yet another near-miss at the Four-Wide Nationals.
Third-place Pritchett had the fastest pass of the final round, running a 3.796 at 318.84, but could not drive around her foes after a .125 second reaction time buried her at the starting line.
McMillen smoked the tires early in his run and finished fourth. Both Pritchett and McMillen are credited as semifinal losers, for the NHRA’s points-scoring purposes.
In Funny Car, Capps drove his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T to a sizzling 3.933 second run at 322.65 mph in the final quad, taking out DSR teammates Jack Beckman and Matt Hagan, as well as Team Kalitta’s J.R. Todd en route to the victory.
Sunday marked Capps’ 52nd-career NHRA victory, 51st in Funny Car and second in a row this season, as well as the 303rd national event win for DSR as an organization.
“This is a fun event,” said Capps of the Four-Wide Nationals. “It changes everything: your mentality, the way you approach each round … everything. There’s not that many times you see other drivers pop out of their cars with a smile on their faces, win or lose. It’s an exciting race.”
“ It’s an amazing feeling (to win a four-wide race) and it’s due to the crew chief (Rahn Tobler) crunching the numbers and making it happen.”
Capps also took over the Funny Car points lead as a result of his performance on Sunday.
Beckman’s Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T finished as the runner-up on a losing 3.959 second pass at 320.05 mph, marking his best result of the season through six races.
Todd faded to third on a slowing 4.103 at 307.72, while Hagan smoked the tires almost immediately and finished fourth with an 8.820 at 93.67.
Chris McGaha and L.E. Tonglet won in the two factory classes, taking down Wallys in Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle, respectively.
For more on those races, click here.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues May 5-7 at Atlanta Dragway, with the running of the Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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