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Torrence Rolls On At Route 66

| , RacinToday.com Monday, July 10 2017

Steve Torrence raced to the Top Fuel win in Joliet on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

Texan Steve Torrence took another step toward securing the No. 1 slot for the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship playoffs Sunday when he defeated Antron Brown in the Top Fuel final of the NHRA Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, Ill.

Winning for the fifth time in the last eight national events in his Richard Hogan-tuned Capco Contractors dragster, Torrence opened a 101-point lead over second-place Leah Pritchett of Don Schumacher Racing with five races remaining before the six-race Countdown.  Brown, DSR’s three-time/reigning world champion who has won the last two titles, is two points behind Pritchett.

Whomever is the point-leader following the 63rd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals over Labor Day weekend at Indianapolis, Ind., will start the playoffs with a 30-point advantage.  After a one-week break, the battle among Torrence, Pritchett and Brown will resume in consecutive races at Morrison, Colo., Sonoma, Calif., and Kent, Wash. _ otherwise known as the grueling Western Swing. NHRA’s annual mid-summer trek will begin with the 38th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway near Denver from July 21-23.

Ron Capps (Funny Car), Drew Skillman (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners in their respective categories at the 13th of 24 events on the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Torrence scored his second straight win over Brown, to whom he had lost in 20 of 21 meetings before this season.  After Brown extended that dominance with victories at Las Vegas and Topeka, Kan., Torrence got a big win in the final round of the 48th annual Summernationals at Englishtown, N.J., on June 11 before winning again on Sunday.  Both of the most recent meetings were classic.

Torrence won at E-town with a 1,000-foot pass in 3.857-seconds to Brown’s 3.932, but that was a runaway compared to Sunday.  In a battle between Top Fuel’s two best starting line “leavers,” Brown posted a narrow 0.002-second edge (0.046-0.048), but it wasn’t enough.  Torrence stopped the timers in 3.779-seconds; Brown in 3.786.  The margin at the finish line was 0.005-seconds.

“I hope things are turning our way a little bit,” said Torrence, sizing up the friendly rivalry with Brown and his Matco Tools dragster.  “All I know is that we bring out the best in each other.  I know he’s made me a better driver.  I had to get better just to beat him every now and then.  Overall, it was a great weekend for the Capco gang.

“The Western Swing is next and we’re just going try to keep on doing what we’re doing.  It’s worked pretty good so far.  Richard Hogan, A.J. (tuning consultant Alan Johnson), Bobby (Lagana Jr.) and all the rest of the Capco misfits have given me a great car.  We’re having fun.”

Torrence qualified fourth and defeated Scott Palmer, Blake Alexander and T.J. Zizzo on the way to victory. Brown qualified seventh and defeated Doug Kalitta, Leah Pritchett and Clay Millican before reaching his sixth final round of the season.

Point-leader Capps locked down his sixth Funny Car victory of the season after a 1,000-foot run in 4.026-seconds at 319.67 mph in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T to defeat DSR teammate Tommy Johnson Jr., who ran 4.047-seconds at 319.90 mph in his Make-A-Wish Dodge. Capps now has reached three final rounds in the past four races, earning two victories in that span.

“This has been a season that I could not even dream about, coming off a championship and having that four-win streak over in the season, it’s been incredible,” said Capps, the reigning world champ. “This is not an easy place to drive since it demands a lot out of you, but my team did a great job of making adjustments.”

Capps qualified ninth and defeated Jonnie Lindberg, Jim Campbell and two-time world champ/DSR teammate Matt Hagan before reaching his eighth final round of the season. Johnson Jr. qualified sixth and took down 16-time world champ John Force, J.R. Todd and Tim Wilkerson before appearing in his second final round of 2017.

Capps holds a solid 200-point lead over second-place Hagan, who fell in the semis. DSR’s Jack Beckman, the 2012 world champ, sits in third place after making a quarterfinal appearance.

In Pro Stock, Skillman notched his first victory of the season after covering the quarter-mile in 6.627-seconds at 209.23 mph in his Ray Skillman Chevy Camaro to defeat Erica Enders. A two-time world champion, Enders ran 6.655-seconds at 207.37 mph in her Elite Motorsports Camaro. Skillman became the ninth different winner in Pro Stock in 13 events, earning his fourth career victory.

“We’ve struggled all year, but we finally put everything together and took things round-by-round,” Skillman said. “The Pro Stock division is so close now, but I definitely feel like we have finally gotten where we deserve to be with this win.”

Skillman qualified third and defeated Shane Tucker, rookie Tanner Gray and point-leader Bo Butner en route to his second final round appearance of 2017. Enders reached her third final round of the season after qualifying ninth and defeating Chris McGaha, four-time world champion Greg Anderson and three-time champ Jason Line.

Butner, of Ken Black Racing, remains atop the Pro Stock standings after his semifinal appearance while teammate Anderson and Gray round out the top three. Skillman’s victory placed him eighth in the standings, while Enders now sits sixth after her second runnerup finish of the season.

Point-leader Tonglet secured his fourth Pro Stock Motorcycle victory in six events with a quarter-mile pass in 6.835-seconds at 195.99 mph aboard his Nitro Fish Racing Suzuki to defeat Hector Arana Jr., who ran 6.878/193.29 aboard his Lucas Oil Buell. Tonglet earned his first victory at Route 66 Raceway since going back-to-back in 2010-11. Tonglet now has victories in all four of his final-round appearances this season.

“We knew we had a good bike at the start of the season, but it was just a matter of getting tuned-up as we learn more about the bike each week,” said Tonglet, the 2010 world champ. “On Sunday our goal is to get win lights, so I’ve improved on being calm and staying focused to try and get the job done.”

Tonglet qualified on-pole and defeated Cory Reed, Scotty Pollacheck and Karen Stoffer. Arana Jr., second in qualifying, defeated three-time world champion Angelle Sampey, Angie Smith and Eddie Krawiec before earning his second runnerup finish of the season.

Krawiec, a three-time world champ, remains in second following the semifinal appearance aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson V-Rod. Arana Jr. moved to third with the runnerup result, passing Pollacheck, who fell to fourth.

###

Final finishing order (1-16) at the 20th annual Children of Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by K&N at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.:

Top Fuel _ 1.  Steve Torrence; 2.  Antron Brown; 3.  T.J. Zizzo; 4.  Clay Millican; 5.  Brittany Force; 6.  Shawn Langdon; 7.  Blake Alexander; 8.  Leah Pritchett; 9.  Tony Schumacher; 10.  Scott Palmer; 11.  Kyle Wurtzel; 12.  Troy Coughlin Jr.; 13.  Pat Dakin; 14.  Luigi Novelli; 15.  Terry McMillen; 16.  Doug Kalitta.

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

Pro Stock _ 1.  Drew Skillman; 2.  Erica Enders; 3.  Bo Butner; 4.  Jason Line; 5.  Greg Anderson; 6.  Tanner Gray; 7.  Vincent Nobile; 8.  Kenny Delco; 9.  Allen Johnson; 10.  Chris McGaha; 11.  Alex Laughlin; 12.  Mark Hogan; 13.  Shane Tucker; 14.  Jeg Coughlin Jr.; 15.  Alan Prusiensky; 16.  Val Smeland.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1.  LE Tonglet; 2.  Hector Arana Jr.; 3.  Karen Stoffer; 4.  Eddie Krawiec; 5.  Scotty Pollacheck; 6.  Angie Smith; 7.  Mike Berry; 8.  Jerry Savoie; 9.  Matt Smith; 10.  Melissa Surber; 11.  Joey Gladstone; 12.  Andrew Hines; 13.  Steve Johnson; 14.  Chip Ellis; 15.  Angelle Sampey; 16.  Cory Reed.

Sunday’s final results from Route 66 Raceway: 

Top Fuel _ Steve Torrence, 3.779-seconds, 326.08 mph  def. Antron Brown, 3.786-seconds, 326.71 mph.

Funny Car _ Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.026, 319.67  def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.047, 319.90.

Pro Stock _ Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.627, 209.23  def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.655, 207.37.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.835, 195.99  def. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.878, 193.29.

Top Alcohol Dragster _ Megan Meyer, 5.427, 263.46  def. Joey Severance, 5.798, 181.96.

Top Alcohol Funny Car _ Sean Bellemeur, Chevy Camaro, 5.528, 266.90  def. Shane Westerfield, Camaro, 6.095, 239.44.

Competition Eliminator _ David Rampy, Roadster, 7.741, 130.12  def. Brian Hyerstay, Dragster, Foul /Red Light.

Super Stock _ Aaron Stanfield, Chevy Camaro, 9.809, 128.74  def. Greg Stanfield, Camaro, 9.059, 141.56.

Stock Eliminator _ Brad Burton, Pontiac Firebird, 10.412, 119.87  def. Justin Picillo, Dodge Challenger, 10.010, 126.93.

Super Comp _ Luke Bogacki, Dragster, 8.909, 169.32  def. Nick Folk, Dragster, 8.918, 168.81.

Super Gas _ Luke Bogacki, Chevy Corvette, 9.930, 149.10  def. Mike Sawyer, Chevy Cavalier, 9.890, 163.06.

Super Street _ Dan Fletcher, Chevy Nova, 11.681, 94.65  def. Greg Ventura, Nova, Foul /Red Light.

Top Sportsman presented by RacingRVs.com _ Mark McDonald, Ford Mustang, 6.677, 195.79  def. Todd Ewing, Chevy Camaro, 6.833, 192.66.

Top Dragster presented by RacingRVs.com _ Zach Sackman, Dragster, 6.206, 189.20  def. Shanna Snyder, Dragster, 6.262, 231.36.

Final round-by-round results from Route 66 Raceway:

TOP FUEL

ROUND ONE _ T.J. Zizzo, 3.793, 324.36 def. Pat Dakin, Foul/Red Light; Antron Brown, 3.776, 322.42 def. Doug Kalitta, 6.478, 152.78; Clay Millican, 3.813, 323.81 def. Kyle Wurtzel, 3.906, 300.80; Leah Pritchett, 3.858, 294.18 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., 3.968, 279.50; Brittany Force, 4.309, 240.94 def. Luigi Novelli, 4.927, 255.34; Steve Torrence, 3.828, 325.53 def. Scott Palmer, 3.901, 315.12; Blake Alexander, 3.940, 301.54 def. Tony Schumacher, 3.883, 306.26; Shawn Langdon, 3.835, 318.69 def. Terry McMillen, 5.170, 141.08;

QUARTERFINALS _ Torrence, 3.843, 324.20 def. Alexander, 4.087, 257.48; Zizzo, 3.787, 324.75 def. Force, 3.817, 322.88; Millican, 3.888, 314.61 def. Langdon, 3.909, 309.91; Brown, 3.853, 305.29 def. Pritchett, 5.247, 139.10;

SEMIFINALS _ Torrence, 3.815, 320.05 def. Zizzo, 3.983, 285.77; Brown, 3.784, 325.53 def. Millican, 4.689, 165.64;

FINAL _ Torrence, 3.779, 326.08 def. Brown, 3.786, 326.71.

FUNNY CAR

ROUND ONE _ Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.162, 251.95 def. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 5.718, 133.68; Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.082, 310.48 def. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 6.473, 107.50; J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.480, 242.71 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 5.680, 135.61; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.020, 320.28 def. Bob Bode, Charger, Foul/Centerline; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.974, 322.81 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.024, 321.88; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.026, 319.07 def. John Force, Camaro, 4.982, 157.39; Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.361, 222.29 def. Brian Stewart, Mustang, 4.825, 176.70; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.005, 320.89 def. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 4.072, 321.19;

QUARTERFINALS _ Johnson Jr., 4.026, 317.72 def. Todd, 4.260, 248.75; Capps, 4.119, 309.98 def. Campbell, 4.432, 204.60; Wilkerson, 4.107, 314.61 def. Beckman, 5.061, 172.65; Hagan, 4.006, 319.60 def. DeJoria, 4.399, 210.67;

SEMIFINALS _ Johnson Jr., 4.015, 317.87 def. Wilkerson, 7.734, 117.15; Capps, 4.038, 318.84 def. Hagan, 4.088, 313.58;

FINAL _ Capps, 4.026, 319.67 def. Johnson Jr., 4.047, 319.90.

PRO STOCK

ROUND ONE _ Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.651, 208.91 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.665, 208.59; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.636, 209.26 def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.658, 207.78; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.606, 209.49 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.666, 208.62; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.617, 209.62 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 8.300, 118.12; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.624, 209.23 def. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.762, 204.54; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.605, 209.88 def. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.761, 202.79; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.595, 209.85 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, Broke; Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.722, 206.67 def. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.791, 207.56;

QUARTERFINALS _ Line, 6.637, 209.33 def. Delco, Foul/Red Light; Skillman, 6.622, 208.91 def. Gray, 6.639, 209.10; Butner, 6.623, 209.52 def. Nobile, 6.647, 208.52; Enders, 6.649, 208.68 def. Anderson, 6.614, 209.59;

SEMIFINALS _ Enders, 6.649, 208.46 def. Line, 6.654, 208.88; Skillman, 6.625, 209.14 def. Butner, 6.621, 209.69;

FINAL _ Skillman, 6.627, 209.23 def. Enders, 6.655, 207.37.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE

ROUND ONE _ Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.819, 197.05 def. Chip Ellis, EBR, 6.946, 193.10; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.943, 193.16 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.922, 194.60; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.830, 196.36 def. Cory Reed, Victory, Foul/Red Light; Angie Smith, Buell, 6.894, 194.38 def. Melissa Surber, Buell, 6.873, 193.38; Mike Berry, Buell, 6.890, 192.66 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.931, 192.77; Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.851, 194.72 def. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.889, 195.22; Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.852, 195.90 def. Angelle Sampey, Victory, 6.972, 188.73; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.940, 192.52 def. Matt Smith, Victory, Foul/Red Light;

QUARTERFINALS _ Stoffer, 6.946, 192.99 def. Savoie, 7.212, 151.14; Krawiec, 6.938, 193.46 def. Berry, 6.949, 191.67; Tonglet, 6.843, 195.65 def. Pollacheck, 6.881, 193.29; Arana Jr., 6.882, 193.88 def. A. Smith, 6.946, 192.25;

SEMIFINALS _ Arana Jr., 6.844, 195.03 def. Krawiec, 6.963, 193.07; Tonglet, 6.843, 195.82 def. Stoffer, 6.904, 192.82;

FINAL _ Tonglet, 6.835, 195.99 def. Arana Jr., 6.878, 193.29.

Point standings (top-10) following the 20th annual Children of Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals:

Top Fuel _1.  Steve Torrence, 1,188; 2.  Leah Pritchett, 1,087; 3.  Antron Brown, 1,085; 4.  Tony Schumacher, 894; 5.  Doug Kalitta, 813; 6.  Brittany Force, 795; 7.  Clay Millican, 773; 8.  Terry McMillen, 509; 9.  Scott Palmer, 496; 10.  Troy Coughlin Jr., 480.

Funny Car _1.  Ron Capps, 1,208; 2.  Matt Hagan, 1,022; 3.  Jack Beckman, 914; 4.  Robert Hight, 853; 5.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 833; 6.  Courtney Force, 749; 7.  John Force, 718; 8.  Tim Wilkerson, 599; 9.  J.R. Todd, 559; 10.  Cruz Pedregon, 463.

Pro Stock _1.  Bo Butner, 1,148; 2.  Greg Anderson, 1,009; 3.  Tanner Gray, 944; 4.  (tie) Jeg Coughlin Jr., 856; Jason Line, 856; 6.  Erica Enders, 782; 7.  Vincent Nobile, 723; 8.  Drew Skillman, 696; 9.  Chris McGaha, 487; 10.  Allen Johnson, 480.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1.  LE Tonglet, 601; 2.  Eddie Krawiec, 460; 3.  Hector Arana Jr., 419; 4.  Scotty Pollacheck, 381; 5.  Jerry Savoie, 379; 6.  Andrew Hines, 349; 7.  Joey Gladstone, 310; 8.  Matt Smith, 300; 9.  Karen Stoffer, 291; 10.  Steve Johnson, 253.

 

| , RacinToday.com Monday, July 10 2017
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