Elder Torrence Rules At Brainerd

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, August 20 2018

Steve Torrence celebrates with father Billy Sunday after the elder Torrence won his first Top Fuel event.

Billy Torrence defied the odds, avenged his son and wrote an improbable ending to Sunday’s 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals by scoring his first career Top Fuel victory at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota.

The 60-year-old Texan and founder of Capco Contractors, Inc., applied an exclamation point to his pole-winning weekend with a final-round victory over three-time Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown. Torrence covered the 1,000-foot distance in 3.756-seconds at almost 330 mph (329.99). Brown, one of Steve Torrence’s closest friends as well as one of his biggest rivals, was slightly quicker with an elapsed time of 3.751-seconds but couldn’t make up a starting line deficit.

Torrence’s 0.037-second reaction time got his 10,000-horsepower hot rod to the finish line 0.003-seconds ahead of Brown, who eliminated class point-leader Steve Torrence in the previous round.

“To come out here and be able to win an event, and give back something to those guys who give me a good operation when I come out, that’s just a blessing,” said Billy Torrence, an accomplished NHRA Sportsman racer. “At this level, there’s pressure on everyone to win. I just wanted to win and Antron is a tremendous racer, and you just have to be on your game. We prepare well and we have a great team put together, and a great car. We have all the right parts and pieces.”

The result immediately sent the self proclaimed “Outlaws” from Kilgore, Texas, who comprise Team Capco into a frenzy that began with Steve Torrence buried in a mosh pit at the starting line. For Steve Torrence _who most certainly will begin the six-race Countdown to the Championship NHRA playoffs as the No. 1 seed _ the thrill of his dad’s victory was tempered by the realization of what might have been.

“You don’t get that many opportunities to race your old man in a Top Fuel final,” Steve said after losing his semifinal heat to Brown.  “Plus, I hate to lose to Antron. He’s one of my best friends but I still don’t like to lose to him. I pull for him all the time but when we line up against each other, all bets are off.  He’s beat me in the semifinals at the last two races so, going to Indy (and the 64th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals), I figure I owe him at least one.”

The series continues Aug. 29-Sept. 3 with the last race of the regular season at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. 

“Fast” Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Deric Kramer (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also emerged as winners in their respective categories at the 17th of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

The Torrences had qualified 1-2 Saturday. Making his 27th career start, Billy Torrence _ who also was No. 1 qualifier for the first time in his career this weekend _ knocked off Terry Totten, Scott Palmer and Mike Salinas to face off with Brown in his first career final round appearance.

Steve Torrence maintained his point lead despite falling to Brown in a tight semifinal. Brown, who won the previous race at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash., near Seattle, now is one point out of fifth place. Brown, of Don Schumacher Racing, beat Luigi Novelli, defending world champion Brittany Force of John Force Racing and Steve Torrence to reach his 121st career final and third straight at Brainerd.

“Billy stepped-up and turned a great light and ran a good lap and won it by three one-thousandths of a second,” said Brown, who secured his berth in the Countdown during qualifying. “You can’t hold your head down for that. We’ve been to two finals back-to-back. We won a race and we are definitely peaking at the right time. We’re only going to get better from here on out.

“We ran low E.T. of the whole event in the semis. We’re just going to keep building off that. Now we just need to keep running strong and when we get to the Countdown, we’re definitely going to be competing at a high level for that championship. I couldn’t be prouder of all my Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota guys for all the hard work they’ve put in. It’s great to see everything coming to fruition for all of us together. I’m stoked.”

Steve Torrence will begin qualifying for the U.S. Nationals _ NHRA’s most prestigious race _ 187 points ahead of his closest rival. He need only qualify to secure the No. 1 Countdown seed for the second consecutive year.

In Funny Car, Beckman secured his second victory of the season and 28th of his career in his Dodge Charger R/T with a 1,000-foot run of 3.961-seconds at 325.69 mph against Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. Beckman, a 52-year-old resident of Norco, Calif., recorded his first career Brainerd victory by posting wins against teammate/two-time world champ Matt Hagan, Shawn Langdon and point-leader Courtney Force.

“We have struggled, it’s no secret we haven’t had the car we had early in the season,” said Beckman, the 2012 world champ who moved to fourth in points. “We weren’t exactly stellar Friday and Saturday and we didn’t have lane-choice all weekend long. (But) I feel a heck of a lot better today than I did (Saturday). To put it back in the winner’s circle again, it just reaffirms we have a contending car. I like the way we picked away at things and we got significantly better every time down the racetrack today.”

Johnson clinched his spot in the Countdown Sunday, advancing to his second final round of the season with victories over Del Worsham, the 2015 world champ; Tim Wilkerson and J.R. Todd, who also secured his spot in the playoffs.

Pro Stock’s Kramer secured his second career victory in his Chevrolet Camaro SS after covering the traditional quarter-mile in 6.652-seconds at 207.56 mph in the final to defeat Tanner Gray and his Camaro. Kramer, a 33-year-old resident of Sterling, Colo., recorded his first career win earlier this year in Heartland Park Topeka. Sunday’s path to the winner’s circle included round-wins against Vincent Nobile, Alex Laughlin and three-time world champion Jason Line. Kramer clinched his spot in the Countdown as well.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Kramer, who made his third straight finals appearance this season. “I know how good you have to be to win in this class. You just have to be ready every time you go to the starting line. There’s no free shots. You have to be competitive, and if you’re not competitive on the tree and you’re not competitive on the track, you’re not going to win, you’re going to go home. We just continue to do that and hopefully it works out for us more than it doesn’t.” 

Gray, who remained second in points, advanced to his second straight final at Brainerd with victories over Dave Connolly, Fernando Cuadra and point-leader/four-time world champ Greg Anderson. Line, Chris McGaha and Drew Skillman all secured their spots in the Countdown.

The Pro Stock Motorcycle final was an all-Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod pairing. Four-time/reigning world champion Krawiec earned his fourth victory of 2018 and 47th of his career with a quarter-mile run of 6.897-seconds at 195.14 mph to beat teammate Andrew Hines. Krawiec moved within 11 points of Hines, a five-time world champ, for the point lead with his fourth career Brainerd victory. Krawiec’s path included round-wins against Ryan Oehler, Mark Paquette and Hector Arana Jr.

“It’s about building momentum right now,” said Krawiec, a 41-year-old native of Bayonne, N.J. “We know where we are and we’re in a great position. I think as long as you have that great drive and have that upbeat spirit, you have everybody all excited and that’s what it’s about right now. I have a good motorcycle under me. I know if it’s not winning, it’s most likely because of me. It’s just great to come out and run well. We had a consistent motorcycle and that’s what you need to win races.” 

Hines’ path to his fifth final this season included wins against Karen Stoffer, 2016 world champ Jerry Savoie and Angie Smith. No. 1 qualifier Matt Smith, a two-time world champ, also clinched his spot in the Countdown.

Final finishing order (1-16) at the 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota. The race is the 17th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel _1. Billy Torrence; 2. Antron Brown; 3. Steve Torrence; 4. Mike Salinas; 5. Brittany Force; 6. Tony Schumacher; 7. Scott Palmer; 8. Clay Millican; 9. Terry McMillen; 10. Chris Karamesines; 11. Leah Pritchett; 12. Richie Crampton; 13. Terry Totten; 14. Luigi Novelli; 15. Bill Litton; 16. Doug Kalitta.

Funny Car _1. Jack Beckman; 2. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 3. J.R. Todd; 4. Courtney Force; 5. Shawn Langdon; 6. Jonnie Lindberg; 7. Tim Wilkerson; 8. Robert Hight; 9. Bob Tasca III; 10. Matt Hagan; 11. Ron Capps; 12. Bob Bode; 13. Del Worsham; 14. Cruz Pedregon; 15. John Force; 16. Jim Campbell. 

Pro Stock _1. Deric Kramer; 2. Tanner Gray; 3. Greg Anderson; 4. Jason Line; 5. Erica Enders; 6. Alex Laughlin; 7. Fernando Cuadra; 8. Mark Hogan; 9. Bo Butner; 10. Vincent Nobile; 11. Dave Connolly; 12. Drew Skillman; 13. Alan Prusiensky; 14. Jeg Coughlin Jr.; 15. Dave River; 16. Chris McGaha.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Eddie Krawiec; 2. Andrew Hines; 3. Hector Arana Jr.; 4. Angie Smith; 5. Jerry Savoie; 6. Angelle Sampey; 7. Matt Smith; 8. Mark Paquette; 9. LE Tonglet; 10. Steve Johnson; 11. Hector Arana; 12. Joey Gladstone; 13. Scotty Pollacheck; 14. Karen Stoffer; 15. Jim Underdahl; 16. Ryan Oehler. 

Sunday’s final results from the 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway: 

Top Fuel _ Billy Torrence, 3.756-seconds, 329.99 mph def. Antron Brown, 3.751-seconds, 329.10 mph. 

Funny Car _ Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.961, 325.69 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.031, 319.67. 

Pro Stock _ Deric Kramer, Chevy Camaro, 6.652, 207.56 def. Tanner Gray, Camaro, Foul/Red Light. 

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.897, 195.14 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.903, 193.99. 

Top Alcohol Dragster _ Jackie Fricke, 5.302, 269.24 def. Dean Dubbin, 5.443, 264.86.

Top Alcohol Funny Car _ Annie Whiteley, Chevy Camaro, 5.564, 267.37 def. Jay Payne, Camaro, 11.980, 68.98.

Super Stock _ Brian Johnson, Plymouth Duster, 11.164, 116.68 def. Jason DeForrest, Chevy Cavalier, Foul/Red Light. 

Stock Eliminator _Ben Line, Ford Mustang, 10.538, 123.15 def. Randi Lyn Shipp, Pontiac Firebird, 10.679, 106.56.

Super Comp _ Don Nichols, Dragster, 8.899, 160.04 def. Donald Leisdon, Dragster, 8.877, 172.89. 

Super Gas _ Jeff Crooks, Pontiac Firebird, 9.885, 151.87 def. Tom Carlson, Chevy Corvette, Foul/Red Light. 

Top Dragster presented by RacingRVs.com _ Todd Fleck, Dragster, 7.591, 154.30 def. Ross Laris, Dragster, Broke. 

Top Sportsman presented by RacingRVs.com _ J.R. Lobner, Olds Cutlass, 7.559, 178.31 def. Michael Freischel, Pontiac Firebird, 7.581, 180.89. 

Pro Stock Snowmobile _ Glenn Hall, Arctic Cat, 8.273, 155.70 def. Matt Ernst, Arctic Cat, 8.242, 155.19. 

Final round-by-round results from the 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway:


ROUND ONE _ Tony Schumacher, 3.792, 328.70 def. Terry McMillen, 3.803, 325.61; Clay Millican, 3.788, 327.27 def. Chris Karamesines, 4.051, 265.69; Antron Brown, 3.803, 326.00 def. Luigi Novelli, 4.460, 187.08; Billy Torrence, 3.900, 312.78 def. Terry Totten, 4.254, 205.69; Steve Torrence, 3.787, 327.35 def. Bill Litton, 4.460, 182.08; Mike Salinas, 3.807, 321.73 def. Doug Kalitta, 4.662, 161.40; Brittany Force, 3.910, 255.97 def. Richie Crampton, 4.178, 260.61; Scott Palmer, 3.837, 325.06 def. Leah Pritchett, 4.068, 276.92;

QUARTERFINALS _ B. Torrence, 3.781, 320.74 def. Palmer, 3.798, 324.59; Brown, 3.768, 329.58 def. Force, 3.746, 326.24; Salinas, 3.817, 322.04 def. Millican, 3.813, 327.11; S. Torrence, 3.792, 325.69 def. Schumacher, 3.771, 328.94; 

SEMIFINALS _ B. Torrence, 3.756, 330.96 def. Salinas, 3.774, 324.59; Brown, 3.733, 323.97 def. S. Torrence, 3.753, 330.88; 

FINAL _ B. Torrence, 3.756, 329.99 def. Brown, 3.751, 329.10. 


ROUND ONE _ Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.990, 321.73 def. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 6.208, 121.33; Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.044, 312.64 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.101, 268.44; Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.206, 235.84 def. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 5.062, 153.18; Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 4.070, 316.01 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.382, 202.91; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.988, 320.66 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.691, 204.42; Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.019, 320.20 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.032, 320.58; Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.973, 326.00 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 12.344, 54.36; J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.024, 318.02 def. Bob Bode, Charger, 4.552, 189.15; 

QUARTERFINALS _ Todd, 4.022, 318.84 def. Hight, 4.143, 243.28; Johnson Jr., 3.937, 319.60 def. Wilkerson, 4.038, 314.97; Beckman, 3.980, 324.83 def. Langdon, 4.019, 321.42; C. Force, 3.945, 326.48 def. Lindberg, 4.026, 321.12; 

SEMIFINALS _ Beckman, 3.968, 325.14 def. C. Force, 4.040, 320.51; Johnson Jr., 3.950, 323.97 def. Todd, 3.973, 324.05; 

FINAL _Beckman, 3.961, 325.69 def. Johnson Jr., 4.031, 319.67. 


ROUND ONE _ Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.652, 207.88 def. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.876, 168.37; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.630, 207.15 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.717, 205.94; Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.636, 207.37 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.635, 206.20; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.620, 207.53 def. Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.660, 206.80; Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.676, 205.66 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.626, 207.37; Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.835, 201.25 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, Broke; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.627, 206.89 def. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 7.008, 196.50; Alex Laughlin, Dodge Dart, 6.648, 205.22 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.739, 204.29; 

QUARTERFINALS _ Kramer, 6.641, 207.24 def. Laughlin, 6.637, 206.32; Line, 6.639, 207.15 def. Hogan, 6.879, 193.35; Anderson, 6.631, 207.34 def. Enders, 6.636, 206.73; Gray, 6.753, 178.76 def. Cuadra, Foul/Red Light; 

SEMIFINALS _ Kramer, 6.640, 206.99 def. Line, 6.673, 206.83; Gray, 6.629, 207.02 def. Anderson, 6.643, 207.40; 

FINAL _ Kramer, 6.652, 207.56 def. Gray, Foul/Red Light. 


ROUND ONE _Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.951, 190.78 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.996, 192.25; Angie Smith, Buell, 6.947, 191.78 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.986, 192.00; Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.970, 191.73 def. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 7.006, 188.62; Mark Paquette, Buell, 10.401, 79.05 def. Hector Arana, Buell, Foul/Red Light; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.916, 193.27 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.017, 189.58; Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.910, 194.91 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 7.006, 191.62; Matt Smith, 6.887, 197.08 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.027, 190.32; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.900, 194.72 def. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 7.197, 190.14; 

QUARTERFINALS _ Hines, 6.935, 193.57 def. Savoie, 6.965, 190.67; Arana Jr., 6.938, 193.77 def. Sampey, 7.012, 191.27; Krawiec, 6.919, 193.63 def. Paquette, 7.090, 184.52; A. Smith, 6.996, 188.10 def. M. Smith, 7.089, 194.52; 

SEMIFINALS _Hines, 6.950, 192.77 def. A. Smith, Foul/Red Light; Krawiec, 6.912, 193.27 def. Arana Jr., 6.950, 193.16; 

FINAL _ Krawiec, 6.897, 195.14 def. Hines, 6.903, 193.99. 

Point standings (top-10) following the 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway: 

Top Fuel_1. Steve Torrence, 1,332*; 2. Tony Schumacher, 1,145*; 3. Clay Millican, 1,144*; 4. Leah Pritchett, 1,118*; 5. Doug Kalitta, 1,027*; 6. Antron Brown, 1,026*; 7. Terry McMillen, 791; 8. Brittany Force, 787; 9. Scott Palmer, 701; 10. Mike Salinas, 694; 11. Richie Crampton, 692; 12. Blake Alexander, 522.

Funny Car _1. Courtney Force, 1,372*; 2. Ron Capps, 1,177*; 3. Robert Hight, 1,154*; 4. Jack Beckman, 1,110*; 5. Matt Hagan, 1,102*; 6. (tie) Tommy Johnson Jr., 987*; J.R. Todd, 987*; 8. John Force, 855; 9. Shawn Langdon, 791; 10. Tim Wilkerson, 747; 11. Bob Tasca III, 723; 12. Cruz Pedregon, 672; 13. Jonnie Lindberg, 649.

Pro Stock _1. Greg Anderson, 1,262; 2. Tanner Gray, 1,242; 3. Erica Enders, 1,146; 4. Vincent Nobile, 1,084; 5. Jeg Coughlin Jr., 1,055; 6. Deric Kramer, 1,045; 7. Jason Line, 986; 8. Chris McGaha, 983; 9. Drew Skillman, 959; 10. Bo Butner, 930; 11. Alex Laughlin, 741.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1. Andrew Hines, 784*; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 773*; 3. Hector Arana Jr., 646*; 4. LE Tonglet, 641*; 5. Jerry Savoie, 588*; 6. Matt Smith, 540*; 7. Scotty Pollacheck, 480; 8. Angie Smith, 409; 9. Angelle Sampey, 372; 10. Hector Arana, 353; 11. Jim Underdahl, 343; 12. Steve Johnson, 334; 13. Joey Gladstone, 317; 14. Cory Reed, 310; 15. Ryan Oehler, 300; 16. Karen Stoffer, 277; 17. Mark Paquette, 178.

Note _* Denotes clinched berth in NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs.



| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, August 20 2018
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