Torrence Earns No. 1 Top Fuel Seed for NTK NHRA Carolina Nationals
Four rounds of thunderous Top Fuel qualifying for the NTK NHRA Carolina Nationals left Steve Torrence in a familiar position entering Sunday's dramatic, all-or-nothing eliminations at zMAX Dragway.
Torrence, the Top Fuel points leader and the defending winner of the NTK NHRA Carolina Nationals, maintained his No. 1 qualifying spot in his quest for a remarkable fourth consecutive Wally at the Bellagio of drag strips. Unable to improve on his 3.711-second, 325.53-mph pass from Friday night, Torrence narrowly held off a charge from Leah Pritchett in the fourth round of qualifying that fell 0.003 seconds shy of the all-important top seed.
"When you have confidence in your team and your car, it makes you a better driver," Torrence said. "We'll be ready and know that there are going to be some quick and fast times (on Sunday). The track will take whatever you throw at it, so we have to be out here ready for war.
"We have had a lot of success here. I'm looking forward to it. It's a double-edged sword, because you could say, 'Well we've won a lot here, so now we have to keep that streak going,' but that's not how we look at it. There are 16 drivers out here competing to win and it's not easy."
Jack Beckman's Funny Car track-record speed on Friday - 334.07-miles per hour - held up on Saturday, as did the 3.873-second pass that gave Beckman a crucial top seed in his bid for a championship.
"I didn't know that was a track record for speed, so it's icing on top of the cake," Beckman said. "We got 13 points out of qualifying. That's pretty good. Anybody who tells you they don't count points either is bad at math, or they're lying to you."
Erica Enders' Pro Stock-leading 6.506-second, 211.86-mph pass from Friday held up after two additional runs from her 18 competitors. Enders' No. 1-qualifying result was her third in a row.
"We want to continue the run that we're on," Enders said. "I have a great hot rod beneath me. My crew chiefs are always more confident than me, but when they're more confident, it makes me more confident."
Jerry Savoie, Friday's No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock Motorcycle, bested his run from Friday - but it wasn't enough to keep Steve Johnson from posting a chart-topping 6.785-second, 196.7-mph pass to bump Savoie off the pole by a scant 0.001 seconds.
Sunday's eliminations begin at 11 a.m. with the SealMaster Track Walk getting underway at 10 a.m.