Torrence is Tops in NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by WIX Filters
It's bad news for the opposition when Steve Torrence is in the final round of an NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Top Fuel event - and on Sunday at zMAX Dragway, Torrence again asserted his dominance after a scorching final round to win the NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by WIX Filters.
Torrence moved to 9-0 in final rounds this year and became the first driver to win four straight Countdown to the Championship events. Torrence completed a season sweep of zMAX Dragway races by edging No. 1 qualifier Brittany Force with a 3.703-second, 329.67-mph pass.
"It's a team and it takes a whole village to make this machine work," Torrence said. "I couldn't be more proud. I'm kind of like the hood ornament. I'm the one getting there first but (my crew are) the ones pushing me to it. … In the final, I knew they'd be right there with us but I felt confident. I had to be on my game and I was on my game. Today was the biggest race of the season for us. We needed to capitalize and we did what we needed to do."
In his 700th round of Funny Car races, Ron Capps notched his 60th Funny Car win after a blistering 3.875-second, 329.42-mph pass in the final round gave Capps the nod over J.R. Todd.
"We got a little aggressive in Q3 on Saturday and I'm really glad we did, even though we lost the pole to Tommy Johnson," Capps said. "It gave (crew chief Rahn Tobler) a look at what we had. Rahn made some great calls. Today was when he showed me a lot. To throw down those speeds and (elapsed times) at the end was incredible. … You've just got to be up for everything in the Countdown. I'm just so glad we were able to come out here and do what we needed to do."
Jason Line became the winningest Pro Stock racer at zMAX Dragway after he captured his 50th career national win on Sunday and his fourth at the Bellagio of drag strips. Line edged Tanner Gray with a 6.523-second, 211.59-mph pass in the final round of Pro Stock competition. Line's win gave the two-time Pro Stock champion at least one victory in 15 consecutive seasons, an NHRA record.
Gray's runner-up finish helped the soon-to-be NASCAR racer maintain his points lead with two races left in the season.
"Obviously, these streaks are cool, but nobody really cares about streaks," Line said. "Summit pays me to win and we finally did that today. It's been a struggle this year, for sure, but when you're able to win, you certainly appreciate it. I was just trying to be calm and cut the best light I could (a .020 reaction time). I was fortunate enough to do a good job with my left foot and get it done."
Matt Smith had the easiest pathway to victory on Sunday. The Pro Stock Motorcycle finalist saw opponent Chip Ellis red-light the final round, giving Smith the 21st victory of his career. Smith's 6.836-second, 197.71-mph run was icing on the cake for the new points leader.
"It's pretty big when you look at the Pro Stock Motorcycle points," Smith said. "All in all, the bike worked great. I had to do my job. We had some problems. I hurt a motor after the first round, we put one in and I had to go up there blind in the second round but we made it. That's a testament to my crew. … We're maintaining what we need to do. I've said that if we win three more races in the Countdown, we can win the championships. We can't have any first-round losses. We need to just keep going rounds."
Pro Mod No. 1 qualifier Rick Hord collected his first career victory on Sunday, while NGK Spark Plugs-sponsored racer Megan Meyer completed a Charlotte sweep this season by capturing her second Top Alcohol win in as many races at zMAX Dragway.