Torrence Closing In On Third Straight Top Fuel Title

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 1 2020

The Capco dragsters are putting on a show in Las Vegas. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA)

The “Capco Boys” aren’t playing games in Glitter Gulch this weekend.

With the help of father/teammate Billy Torrence, Steve Torrence moved closer to a third consecutive NHRA Top Fuel world championship after Saturday’s two sessions of time trials for the 20th annual Dodge NHRA Finals. Billy Torrence qualified on-pole and Steve earned the No. 2 spot at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where a two-car short/14-car ladder looms as another plus for Team Capco.

Ron Capps (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also emerged as No. 1 qualifiers during the 11th and final race of a 2020 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. A taped, two-hour qualifying program will be aired on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) at 2 p.m. (EST), followed by live coverage of final eliminations at 4 p.m.

Billy Torrence covered the 1,000-foot distance in 3.728-seconds at 325.30 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster to record his third career No. 1 qualifier and first of the season. Steve Torrence ran 3.731 at 330.39 to set up a first-round matchup Sunday against Kebin Kinsley. Steve will claim his third title if he beats fellow-Texan Kinsley in Round 1.

Steve Torrence, who secured his first championship at Vegas in 2018, is poised to join Top Fuel stars Joe Amato and Tony Schumacher as the only drivers to win at least three consecutive titles in NHRA’s premier division.

“I saw my old man keep on rolling down through there, so I knew it was on a good run, but we’ll just go out and do what we need to do (Sunday),” Steve Torrence said. “We need to go rounds. We don’t need to worry about what the points are and who we have. We just need to go rounds.”

Doug Kalitta qualified third at 3.746 and 327.74 in the dragster fielded by uncle and drag racing icon Conrad “Connie” Kalitta. To claim his first world championship, Doug will need to win the race and have Steve Torrence lose in the opening round.

In Funny Car, Ron Capps notched his first pole of 2020 and 25th of his career after a 1,000-foot run of 3.902-seconds at 327.98 mph in his backup Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. The 2016 world champion, Capps will take on Chris Morel in Round 1 as Don Schumacher Racing chases its 14th straight victory in the class and a sweep of a 2020 season impacted by the exit of John Force Racing in July. 

Capps’ strong run bumped DSR teammate/point leader Matt Hagan into the second spot in his bid to claim his third career title. Hagan ran 3.911 at 327.82 in his Mopar Dodge SRT Redeye Hellcat and will meet two-time world champion Cruz Pedregon to start race day.

“A great job by (crew chief) Rahn Tobler, Dustin Heim and the guys,” Capps said after the team’s Q2 pass. “We brought this car out under extreme circumstances for the final round in Gainesville (Raceway in Florida) and won, and then we brought it out again in Houston (Baytown, Texas) and came close to winning last Sunday. Honestly, we had never warmed the car up until today. Tobler decided to run this car and I kept telling him how much I like this car and I love driving it and my lights are good and it feels right. Low and behold, it went out and made a nice, safe run.

“For me, I wanted to get a Camping World hat and obviously a win would be great, but to steal the No. 1 spot at the last race of the year is a big feather in the cap. Now it’s time to do some big stuff (Sunday).”

Hagan leads DSR teammates Tommy Johnson Jr. and 2012 world champ “Fast” Jack Beckman by 45 and 52 points, respectively, heading into eliminations. Johnson qualified fourth at 3.915 and 319.14 while Beckman will start from the 10th position. With the event paying points-and-a-half, a round win is worth 30 points (instead of 20), meaning Johnson or Beckman would have to finish two rounds ahead of Hagan to win the title.

“We made a great first run out here and ended up No. 2,” Hagan said. “If we get there, we could see Jack Beckman second round. We just need everything to fall in place. We have a great opportunity with a great race car and Vegas has been very kind to me. We’ve been lucky. We want to keep that going, but it’s drag racing and you just never know and that’s why the fans buy tickets to see what’s going to happen. This Dodge SRT Redeye Hellcat is hauling the mail and I’m fortunate to be driving it.”

In Pro Stock, the Summit Racing Equipment/KB Racing team of Greg Anderson and Jason Line rose to the occasion. Anderson earned P1 while Line, who has championship aspirations in the final race of his career, qualified second. Anderson, a four-time world champ, covered the quarter-mile in 6.601-seconds at 206.73 mph in his Summit Chevrolet Camaro to claim his second pole this season and 106th of his career. Line heads into race day and the conclusion of his 17-year career P2 after recording numbers of 6.635 at 206.39.

An eight-time Vegas winner, Anderson netted eight bonus points Saturday en route to opening eliminations against Aaron Strong. “This is huge,” Anderson said of the team’s 1-2 result across the ladder. “We love coming to Vegas, we love coming to Ken Black’s home track. It’s always been special to us, and we’ve created a lot of great magic here. We set the table with our Summit Racing Chevys, and tomorrow is going to be a knock-down, drag-out brawl. I can’t wait. It’s going to be great drama. We’ve got two great hot rods, and that’s all we can ask for.”

Line rolls into race day within 47 points of leader and three-time/reigning world champ Erica Enders of Elite Motorsports. Enders, who struggled Saturday and qualified 12th, will face Elite teammate and fellow-Texan Alex Laughlin in a difficult first round draw as she seeks back-to-back world titles.

Line will square off against Cristian Cuadra in Round 1. “Anything can happen on race day, it’s a crazy thing,” said Line, a three-time world champ. “If we raced on paper, the results would be way different. Who knows, I certainly don’t wish anybody bad luck, that’s for sure. But I’d love to bring the trophy home for Ken and Judy Black and Summit Racing. No matter what happens, this is going to be my last ride in a Pro Stock car. I have no regrets, no complaints. I’ve gotten to do more, see more and be with some really good people. It’s been a good ride.”

The third title contender _ five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. _ qualified ninth in his JEGS.com Camaro and is 55 points behind Enders heading into Sunday, which also is the final race in his “Factory Hot Rod” career.

Four-time world champion Eddie Krawiec continued to stay focused in Pro Stock Motorcycle, vaulting to the No. 1 spot with a track record quarter-mile run of 6.818-seconds at 198.12 mph aboard his Harley-Davidson FXDR. Krawiec scored his second No. 1 qualifier _ his first came during the opening race of a seven-event season _ and 48th in his career. Last Sunday’s victory in Texas kept Krawiec in championship contention, and he will open eliminations against Cory Reed aboard his EBR. Krawiec is trailing leader and three-time world champion Matt Smith by 80 points. 

Smith, meanwhile, qualified second at 6.821 and 198.38 aboard his Denso/Stockseth Racing EBR and will take on Krawiec’s H-D teammate, three-time world champion Angelle Sampey, in Round 1. Joey Gladstone qualified third at 6.893 and 195.56. Scotty Pollacheck, who is 86 points behind teammate Smith, also remains in contention after taking the fourth spot at 6.900 at 196.04.

In the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service, Khalid alBalooshi qualified No. 1 for the third time in 2020 with a pass at 248.34 mph in his ProCharger-powered Bahrain 1 Racing Camaro.

Point-leader Brandon Snider took the second spot at this event, presented by Strutmasters.com, with a run of 5.766 at 248.71. He will open eliminations against Brandon Pesz. Snider started the weekend with a 26-point lead over defending world champion Stevie “Fast” Jackson, who qualified fifth. Should both Snider and Jackson win their first-round matchups they would meet in Round 2, with the winner getting a bye into the final.

Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations at the 20th annual Dodge NHRA Finals presented by Pennzoil at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the 11 and final event in the 2020 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Pairings based upon results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings:

Top Fuel _1. Billy Torrence, 3.728-seconds, 325.30 mph vs. 14. Cameron Ferre, 6.595, 101.23; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.731, 330.39 vs. 13. Kebin Kinsley, 6.276, 109.60; 3. Doug Kalitta, 3.746, 327.74 vs. 12. Justin Ashley, 5.659, 115.47; 4. Antron Brown, 3.762, 322.81 vs. 11. Tony Schumacher, 5.249, 112.46; 5. Shawn Langdon, 3.775, 319.90 vs. 10. Clay Millican, 5.002, 141.88; 6. Leah Pruett, 3.791, 322.04 vs. 9. Chris Karamesines, 4.166, 224.66; 7. Jim Maroney, 3.971, 307.37 vs. 8. Troy Buff, 4.123, 218.97. 

Funny Car _1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.902, 327.98 vs. 16. Chris Morel, Charger, 4.617, 191.73; 2. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.911, 327.82 vs. 15. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 4.359, 244.56; 3. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.915, 322.42 vs. 14. Terry Haddock, Ford Mustang, 4.334, 238.47; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.915, 319.14 vs. 13. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.126, 312.13; 5. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.929, 325.92 vs. 12. Dave Richards, Mustang, 4.035, 282.54; 6. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.929, 321.50 vs. 11. Steven Densham, Mustang, 4.004, 314.75; 7. Paul Lee, Charger, 3.933, 327.66 vs. 10. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.996, 309.70; 8. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.940, 322.88 vs. 9. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.975, 326.24. 

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Bobby Bode, 4.755, 151.92; 18. Alex Miladinovich, 5.440, 140.08.

Pro Stock _1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.601, 206.73 vs. 16. Aaron Strong, Camaro, 6.724, 204.35; 2. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.635, 206.39 vs. 15. Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.709, 204.23; 3. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.637, 206.32 vs. 14. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.691, 206.07; 4. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.641, 206.35 vs. 13. Troy Coughlin Jr., Mustang, 6.670, 205.60; 5. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.642, 205.76 vs. 12. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.652, 205.35; 6. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.645, 205.76 vs. 11. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.650, 205.79; 7. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.645, 204.98 vs. 10. Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.649, 205.94; 8. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.646, 206.45 vs. 9. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.647, 205.38.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Val Smeland, 6.727, 205.66; 18. Alan Prusiensky, 6.728, 204.54; 19. Steve Graham, 6.763, 203.06; 20. Fernando Cuadra, 8.818, 107.97.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.818, 198.12 vs. 16. Cory Reed, EBR, 7.318, 190.14; 2. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.821, 198.38 vs. 15. Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 7.141, 158.82; 3. Joey Gladstone, EBR, 6.893, 195.56 vs. 14. Freddie Camarena, Suzuki, 7.082, 189.82; 4. Scotty Pollacheck, EBR, 6.900, 196.04 vs. 13. David Barron, EBR, 7.045, 190.00; 5. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.918, 196.30 vs. 12. Katie Sullivan, Suzuki, 7.014, 192.36; 6. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.941, 192.19 vs. 11. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.009, 190.78; 7. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.946, 194.74 vs. 10. Chris Bostick, Suzuki, 6.998, 184.85; 8. Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.947, 194.44 vs. 9. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 6.955, 193.35. 


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 1 2020
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