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Hight, Torrence Tear Through Concord Fields

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, October 14 2019
Robert Hight collected more hardware Monday in North Carolina. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

CONCORD, N.C. – Funny Car point leader Robert Hight and reigning Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence maneuvered through their elimination rounds Monday in the rain-delayed NTK NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway to solidify their bids for their respective titles with three races remaining.

Hight’s 51st career victory and 500th round win left him with a 44-point advantage over second-place Jack Beckman, who received a red light in Monday’s final. He now owns six victories this year, a season-best for the John Force Racing driver.

Torrence took the Top Fuel point lead from Doug Kalitta with his No. 1 qualifying performance. He then dispensed with Kalitta in the final round with an elapsed time of 3.772 seconds, 323.19 mph. Torrence now possesses a 30-point advantage over Kalitta heading to next weekend’s event at Texas. 

“I think we need to win two more races to be pretty solid in having an opportunity to win this championship again,” says Torrence, who is seeking his second title. “I think the points and a half deal at Pomona is definitely a cog in the wheel. It’s going to make everybody go there with a little bit of anxiety.”  

In Pro Stock, Eric Enders, the event’s No 1 qualifier, lost in the semifinal round to Matt Hartford, but took the point lead from Jason Line. Deric Kramer defeated Hartford in the final with a 6.541-second E.T., 211.33 mph. Enders, however, leaves with a 38-point advantage over Line, who lost to Shane Tucker in the first round.  

For Torrence, his love affair with zMAX continued as he claimed his fourth straight victory at the dragway. He hasn’t lost at the North Carolina facility since 2017.

“I don’t know what it is (that makes me so successful here),” Torrence said after claiming his ninth event win this year. “Some places the crew chiefs and the guys have a real good handle on the tune-up. This just seems to be one of them and, fortunately, it is one of the Countdown races.

“We were able to go 6-0 in the Countdown last year, but you have to approach every race like you have never won one. You can’t let your mental focus get distracted by your success because you’re only as good as the last run you made.”  

Hight said the competitors he faced in the final round, which was delayed a day due to rain, didn’t “get any tougher.” En route to his victory, he defeated Mike McIntire Jr., Tim Wilkerson and Matt Hagan before meeting Beckman. 

“When you start getting with Tim Wilkerson, Hagan and Beckman, that’s a long day. It’s hard work,” Hight said. “We’ve changed some things over the last few races. We’ve kind of been struggling, but we went down the track every run this weekend.”

Hight says he prefers to be in the point lead because “you control your own destiny.”

“When you’re chasing someone, you can’t control what they do,” Hight said. “I want to be here and I want to be here a month from now (when the season ends).”   

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, October 14 2019
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