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Torrence Pole Blitz Moves To Sonoma

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, July 30 2016
Steve Torrence was fastest in Friday's Top Fuel qualifying rounds in Sonoma.

Steve Torrence was fastest in Friday’s Top Fuel qualifying rounds in Sonoma.


Top Fuel driver Steve Torrence powered to a national record elapsed time and moved into position to claim his eighth pole position of the season Friday during the first day of time trials for the 29th annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals.

Del Worsham (Funny Car), Bo Butner (Pro Stock), and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were qualifying leaders at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event near San Francisco, the second of three consecutive weeks of the “Western Swing.” Sunday’s finals will be televised live on FOX.

 Torrence covered the Sonoma Raceway strip in 3.671-seconds at 325.69 mph in his Capco Contractors dragster. The time bettered Brittany Force’s previous national mark by five-thousandths of a second and also was a track record, one of three set during the fast evening of nitro qualifying. Torrence will claim his fourth No. 1 in the last five races if the time holds through Saturday’s two rounds of qualifying.

“You got to really hit the nail on the head to make a run like that,” said Torrence, who is working with nitro tuning guru Alan Johnson. “When conditions get tight like this, you can go out there and miss it just a little bit. When it made it through (half-track) I did the best I could to keep it in the groove. When I looked up going through the lights and pulled the chutes and saw that 60-something come on the board, I just started hollering because I knew it was fast. It was the quickest I’ve ever been. I jumped out of the car and I don’t even know what I said down there.”

Nine races are left in the season. Should Torrence grab his eighth pole Saturday, eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher’s record of 13 in a single season (2006) will be well within reach of the native Texan.

“Seven No. 1s in one season has surpassed what I had done in the rest of my career,” Torrence said. “We’re still a one-car team and we’re standing toe-to-toe with the big dogs and I don’t think they’re liking it too much. The way these Capco guys have prepared this car and stuck together as a team and just the unity the way they’re working together is second to none. It takes that caliber of a team to produce what they’re doing.

“This is just the fruits of their labor. We’re going to try and continue to march forward and not count what we’ve accomplished until the end of the year; we’ll see where we stand then.” 

Five-time Sonoma winner Doug Kalitta sits second in his Mac Tools dragster with a 3.711-second pass at 325.77 mph, while two-time season winner and 2013 world champ Shawn Langdon is third at 3.714-seconds and 325.14 mph in his Red Fuel dragster. Lucas Oil dragster driver Richie Crampton is fourth, also at 3.714-seconds but at a slower speed of 322.65. Series point-leader Antron Brown, the two-time reigning world champion from Don Schumacher Racing, is seventh after posting a Friday best 1,000-foot time of 3.754-seconds and 315.86 mph in his Matco Tools dragster.


Reigning Funny Car world champ Worsham sped to a track-record 1,000-foot time of 3.868-seconds at 327.43 mph in his DHL Toyota Camry, the fourth-quickest run in NHRA history. Meanwhile, two-time world champ Matt Hagan of DSR also took advantage of the cool Bay Area weather conditions in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T and set the track speed record in Funny Car _ a 330.15 mph blast at 3.875-seconds, good for fourth in the provisional order.

“That was a pretty good run,” said Worsham, of Kalitta Motorsports. “We were trying to run our best run as a team and we definitely achieved that. It’s a cool weekend and we’re sponsored by Toyota and this is their race. To come out here and qualify No. 1 for them is exciting. For our entire team it was a great run and we’re looking forward to Sunday.”

Six Funny Cars bettered the 3.921-second national record time “Fast” Jack Beckman of DSR posted here one year ago, with five of the runs in the 3.8-second zone. Worsham said with warmer temps forecast for Saturday he doesn’t expect his time to be challenged.

“The last 12 months in Funny Car, starting at this race a year ago, have been amazing and crazy and have surprised me a million times with quick ETs,” Worsham said.  “We’ll have to wait and see. You don’t know how late we’ll be running tomorrow and what kind of delays we might have. But I definitely feel good about our chances of holding on to it.”

Bandimere Speedway runnerup Courtney Force clocked a career-best time of 3.871-seconds and 322.50 mph in the Traxxas Chevy Camaro SS to take second in the 16-car order. Her John Force Racing teammate, Auto Club Chevy driver Robert Hight, posted a 3.874-second pass at 327.03 mph to anchor the third spot. Point-leader Ron Capps of Don Schumacher Racing sits fifth in the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge at 3.877-seconds and 326.71 mph.

Butner, who drives the third team car for KB Racing, was quickest in Pro Stock, clocking a quarter-mile pass of 6.553-seconds at 210.28 mph in his Jim Butner Auto Chevy Camaro. “We are still testing, trying new things and getting ready for the Countdown,” Butner said. “We have a great crew and I have yet to see another team work as hard as our guys.”

The second-year pro hasn’t qualified outside the top five all season. However, he’s feeling heavy expectations for when he might grab that elusive first victory after posting three runnerup finishes this season and four in his career.

“Every race I have one of the fastest cars on race day and I just pull up against someone who hammers me (on the Christmas Tree),” Butner said. “It’s a right place/right time kind of sport. I definitely have the car. I’ve been trying some things on the reaction time. I think it’s coming. I would just as soon wait till the Countdown to do it though.” Butner was referring to the season-ending, six-race Countdown to the Championship.

KB Racing’s Greg Anderson, a four-time world champion, is second in the qualifying order at 6.567-seconds at 210.14 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Camaro and is followed by Shane Gray, who ran 6.576-seconds at 210.14 mph in his Valvoline/Nova Services Camaro. Recent Bandimere winner Allen Johnson is fourth in his Marathon Petroleum Dodge Dart at 6.588-seconds and 209.95 mph. Point- leader Jason Line, the two-time world champ from KB Racing, sits fifth spot at 6.594-seconds and 209.62 mph in his Summit Racing Camaro.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Louisiana alligator farmer Savoie led the 16-bike field with a quarter-mile pass of 6.839-seconds at 194.46 mph on his White Alligator Racing Suzuki. The effort continues Savoie’s strong performance history at Sonoma, where he has been runnerup the last two years and No. 1 qualifier in 2014.

“I don’t know if it’s a confidence thing or the crew chief has a handle on the tune-up,” Savoie said about his success at this track. “The Suzukis run well at sea level. We don’t run that good at Denver (Bandimere) because of the altitude. When you hit that home run at sea level (the Suzukis) really run good. We missed it on the first run really bad, but the second one was right where we needed to be. Looking at all the data, we thought we could run an 0.81, to be honest with you.”

Savoie said his team is trending much like last year, when he rallied near the end of the season and contended for the series crown before eventually finishing third.

“This is the time of the year when we usually turn it on,” Savoie said. “Tim Kulungian (crew chief) is really good and he’s the smudge king. I’m feeling confident that we’ll be good the rest of the season.”

Three-time world champ Angelle Sampey is second aboard her Precision Service Equipment Buell at 6.854-seconds and 193.96 mph and is followed by 2010 world champ LE Tonglet, who posted a 6.866-second pass at 194.60 mph aboard his Nitro Fish Suzuki.

Five-time/reigning world champ Andrew Hines is fourth aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson at 6.862-seconds and 192.99 mph. Hines is attempting to win his third consecutive race and advance to his fourth straight final this weekend.

Point-leader Eddie Krawiec, fifth at 6.867-seconds and 192.11 mph aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley V-Rod, will lead eight qualified riders into bonus competition Saturday in the all-star NHRA Pro Bike Battle as the top seed. A three-time world champion, Krawiec is the defending winner of the specialty race.

Fox Sports 1 will air one hour of qualifying coverage Saturday at 10 p.m. (EDT). Sunday’s finals will be carried live on the FOX Network during a three-hour block beginning at 4 p.m. (EDT) with an encore broadcast on FS1 at 9:30 p.m.


Friday’s qualifying results after the first two of four rounds of time trials for the 29th annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, 15th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Qualifying will continueSaturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

Top Fuel  _ 1. Steve Torrence, 3.671-seconds, 326.08 mph; 2. Doug Kalitta, 3.711, 325.77; 3. Shawn Langdon, 3.714, 325.14; 4. Richie Crampton, 3.714, 322.65; 5. J.R. Todd, 3.731, 324.05; 6. Tony Schumacher, 3.751, 318.99; 7. Antron Brown, 3.754, 315.86; 8. Clay Millican, 3.764, 300.73; 9. Brittany Force, 3.788, 324.20; 10. Leah Pritchett, 3.800, 314.02; 11. T.J. Zizzo, 3.807, 317.34; 12. Troy Buff, 3.867, 310.13.

Not Qualified _ 13. Terry McMillen, 3.881, 311.41; 14. Steve Faria, 3.956, 278.46; 15. Bill Litton, 4.045, 291.82; 16. Scott Palmer, 4.212, 211.53.

Funny Car _ 1. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.868, 327.43; 2. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.871, 322.50; 3. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.874, 327.03; 4. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.875, 330.15; 5. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.877, 326.71; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.903, 321.19; 7. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.933, 322.34; 8. John Force, Camaro, 3.942, 324.36; 9. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.955, 321.27; 10. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.992, 313.07; 11. John Hale, Charger, 4.011, 317.87; 12. Chad Head, Camry, 4.193, 233.24.

Not Qualified _ 13. Gary Densham, 4.256, 288.52; 14. Jeff Diehl, 4.275, 226.92; 15. Tim Gibbons, 4.943, 167.74; 16. Cruz Pedregon, 5.228, 144.01; 17. Brandon Welch, 8.818, 71.35.

Pro Stock _ 1. Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 6.553, 210.28; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.567, 210.14; 3. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.576, 210.14; 4. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.588, 209.95; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.594, 209.62; 6. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.602, 209.69; 7. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.607, 209.52; 8. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.608, 209.01; 9. Erica Enders, Dart, 6.612, 209.26; 10. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.631, 209.59; 11. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Dart, 6.632, 208.23; 12. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.651, 208.97.

Not Qualified _ 13. Aaron Strong, 6.651, 207.59; 14. Deric Kramer, 6.653, 207.91; 15. Alan Prusiensky, 6.918, 203.86; 16. Joey Grose, 6.969, 198.88.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.839, 194.46; 2. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.854, 193.96; 3. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.862, 194.60; 4. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.862, 193.02; 5. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.867, 192.11; 6. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.888, 192.91; 7. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.892, 192.33; 8. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.894, 193.49; 9. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.901, 193.77; 10. Melissa Surber, Buell, 6.910, 189.76; 11. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.916, 193.40; 12. Cory Reed, Buell, 6.930, 189.90.

Not Qualified _ 13. Karen Stoffer, 6.931, 192.60; 14. Steve Johnson, 6.942, 194.35; 15. Shawn Gann, 6.956, 191.57; 16. Katie Sullivan, 6.975, 187.89; 17. Freddie Camarena, 7.022, 191.95; 18. Michael Ray, 7.023, 189.52; 19. Angie Smith, 7.040, 186.43; 20. Scott Bottorff, 7.158, 184.17; 21. Lance Bonham, 7.206, 182.33; 22. Chaz Kennedy, 7.911, 131.48; 23. Scotty Pollacheck, 18.585, 34.32; 24. Brian Bognuda, broke.

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, July 30 2016
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