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PO’d Torrence Gets His Top Fuel Four-Wide Wally

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, April 30 2017

Steve Torrence, bottom lane, jumps out to an unbeatable lead in the Top Fuel finals. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Garry Eller)

CONCORD, N.C. – Steve Torrence said Sunday that in 2011 veteran team owner Don Schumacher told him he couldn’t be competitive against the multi-car operations as an independent in NHRA Top Fuel.

It sparked the Texan’s determination to prove him wrong. In fact, “it pissed me off,” Torrence said.

On Sunday in the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway, that incentive resulted in Torrence snapping the stronghold Don Schumacher Racing had held on the NHRA’s Top Fuel class through the season’s first five races. With an elapsed time of 3.783 seconds, 323.89 mph, Torrence defeated DSR drivers Leah Pritchett and Tony Schumacher, and independent Terry McMillen to claim his first Four-Wide victory.

“I’m here to tell him (Schumacher) that I can (be competitive) and we have and we are going to continue to do so,” Torrence said.

“This is a driver’s race. It’s completely different (from all of the other races). When you come here you are mentally challenged. You are doing everything you can. The crew chiefs have to tune off of one lap in every lane. It’s difficult. I told the guys I would be the last one

Steve Torrence celebrates his Top Fuel victory in Sunday’s finals of the Four-Wide Nationals in Concord, N.C. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

to stage on every run so I knew which bulb I’m on.”

Torrence called the win “gratifying”.

“When you can beat two of those Schumacher cars at one time, that’s even better,” Torrence said.  

It also was a special victory for the team, who had a member lose his mother on the eve of the event.

“Justin Crossley had to leave before the final round,” Torrence said. “We were sitting in the staging lanes; he had a flight to catch. We told him we would be getting the trophy for him.”

Torrence wasn’t the only NHRA competitor to earn his first Four-Wide victory. Joining him for inaugural victories in the event were Ron Capps in Funny car, Chris McGaha in Pro Stock and L.E. Tonglet in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps carried the torch for DSR with his second consecutive victory this year and the 51st of his Funny Car career. It also was the 303rd victory for DSR and meant the organization was 10 for 12 in the nitro category this year. The current Funny Car champion also took the point lead with his victory.

“Some of the drivers are saying they don’t like it (Four-wide). Then they should stay home next time,” said Capps, who won with a 3.933 e.t., 322.65 mph. “This is a fun race to begin the season. It doesn’t impact the Countdown later in the year.”

McGaha’s first career victory at zMAX made him the sixth different winner in Pro Stock this year. It was his first victory since Indianapolis 2016 and was accomplished with 6.591 e.t., 210.44 mph.

It also was Tonglet’s first victory since 2016 when he won at Sonoma. The 2010 Pro Stock Motorcycle champion achieved his third victory at zMAX Dragway with a 6.864 e.t., 195 mph.

Pritchett maintained the point lead in Top Fuel with her final round appearance Sunday. Greg Anderson heads to next weekend’s Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway with the Pro Stock point lead. Eddie Krawiec leads the Pro Stock Motorcycle standings.

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CONCORD, N.C. – Final finish order (1-16) for professional categories at the eighth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway.  The race is the sixth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

TOP FUEL:

  1. Steve Torrence; 2.  Tony Schumacher; 3.  Leah Pritchett; 4.  Terry McMillen; 5.  Dom Lagana; 6. Doug Kalitta; 7.  Clay Millican; 8.  Antron Brown; 9.  Scott Palmer; 10.  Terry Haddock; 11.  Ike Maier; 12.  Shawn Langdon; 13.  Troy Coughlin Jr.; 14.  Pat Dakin; 15.  Chris Karamesines.

FUNNY CAR:

  1. Ron Capps; 2.  Jack Beckman; 3.  J.R. Todd; 4.  Matt Hagan; 5.  Robert Hight; 6.  Jonnie Lindberg; 7.  John Force; 8.  Tim Wilkerson; 9.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 10.  Chad Head; 11.  Bob Bode; 12.  Bob Tasca III; 13.  Del Worsham; 14.  Jim Campbell; 15.  Cruz Pedregon; 16.  Courtney Force.

PRO STOCK:

  1. Chris McGaha; 2.  Greg Anderson; 3.  Shane Gray; 4.  Drew Skillman; 5.  Vincent Nobile; 6. Alex Laughlin; 7.  Jason Line; 8.  Tanner Gray; 9.  Jeg Coughlin; 10.  Allen Johnson; 11.  Bo Butner; 12.  Shane Tucker; 13.  Deric Kramer; 14.  Alan Prusiensky; 15.  Erica Enders; 16.  John Gaydosh Jr.
| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, April 30 2017
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