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Torrence Adds Baytown Win

| , RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 25 2021

Top Fuel driver Steve Torrence keeps adding to his trophy collection. (RacinToday file photo by Deb Williams)

RacinToday.com

Three-time/reigning Top Fuel world champion Steve Torrence finally checked Houston Raceway Park off his must-do list, racing to a rain-delayed victory Monday during the 34th annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals. 

Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Matt Hartford (Pro Stock) also won in their respective categories at the fifth race of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season. Eliminations were postponed until Monday due to inclement weather on Sunday.

Texas native Torrence pedaled the 1,000-foot distance during a 4.001-second pass at 260.06 mph to beat veteran nemesis Doug Kalitta in the final, earning this third win this season and extending his point lead. Torrence reached the final via wins against Mitch King and Clay Millican, going an impressive 3.711 at 327.66 and 3.703 at 323.81 to reach the final.

The victory was the 43rd in his career for Torrence, who had three final-round appearances in Baytown _ including the race last fall _ before Monday’s winning performance.

“We’ve run well here in the past, but we get to the final round and something always seems to happen. We’ve been snake-bit,” Torrence, racing out of Kilgore said. “I don’t know if I’ve had win repellant on me or what. The Kalitta boys did an awesome job. This is also the first race I’ve ever won on Monday, other than Indy. I just think it’s unbelievable to have the success we’ve had this year and to win in Texas in front of our Capco crew and fans is even more special.”

Kalitta, meanwhile, was denied his 50th career win by Torrence for the second time in 2021. Kalitta advanced to his 107th final round on the strength of earlier wins against word champions Brittany Force, Antron Brown and teammate Shawn Langdon.

In Funny Car, Hight bested Ron Capps in their 70th career meeting in eliminations and ninth in the final round. Hight covered the 1,000-foot distance in 3.916-seconds at 327.19 mph in his Chevrolet Camaro SS. After struggling at the past two races, Hight and his John Force Racing team rallied, capturing his first win since 2019 and 52nd in his championship career. Hight knocked off Bob Bode, Cruz Pedregon and point-leader Bob Tasca III en route to the finals, going 3.909 at 328.78 in his semifinal win. Hight followed with a wire-to-wire run against Capps, giving JFR its second straight Funny Car victory.

“The (John Force) car has been the class of the field the last few races and they helped us on Monday after Charlotte,” said Hight, who picked up his fourth win at Houston. “That got us back on track, and (crew chief) Jimmy Prock and this Auto Club team just did their job.

“This place has a special place in my heart _ my first win came here _ and after sitting out last year you wonder if you’re ever going to get another one of these.” JFR opted to sit-out the revised portion of the COVID-19 impacted 2020 schedule.

Capps advanced to his 127th career final round and second this season by beating Paul Lee, defending world champ and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan and Tim Wilkerson. Capps went as quick as 3.894 at 327.51 _ top run in the class during eliminations.

In the Pro Stock final, Hartford enjoyed some good fortune en route to scoring his first victory of the year in the  Chevrolet Camaro with a quarter-mile run of 7.660-seconds at 145.11 mph. Final-round opponent Deric Kramer experienced tire-shake off the line almost immediately to hand the victory to Hartford.

In reaching his 10th career final, Hartford impressed by beating veteran Kenny Delco, defending world champ and Houston native Erica Enders on a holeshot and Aaron Stanfield in the semifinals.

“We’ve had the power to win all year, but not the luck,” Hartford said after posting his fourth career victory. “Texas has been great to us and my lights were pretty decent for a change. We’ve got a great team and everyone has gelled together. KB Racing just creates incredible horsepower. Deric and I were in the finals and our cars were quick all day, so hats off to that engine program.”

Kramer reached the final round after wins against Bruno Massel, point-leader and KB Racing teammate Greg Anderson and Kyle Koretsky. It was Kramer’s first final of 2021 and eighth in his career.

The series returns to action June 11-13 with the TascaParts.com NHRA New England Nationals presented by Bandero Premium Tequila at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H.

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Final finishing order (1-16) at the 34th annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Texas. The race was the fifth of 22 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel _ 1. Steve Torrence; 2. Doug Kalitta; 3. Clay Millican; 4. Shawn Langdon; 5. Justin Ashley; 6. Billy Torrence; 7. Antron Brown; 8. Arthur Allen; 9. Mike Salinas; 10. Brittany Force; 11. Mitch King; 12. Lee Callaway; 13. Leah Pruett; 14. Josh Hart.

Funny Car _ 1. Robert Hight; 2. Ron Capps; 3. Bob Tasca III; 4. Tim Wilkerson; 5. Matt Hagan; 6. Cruz Pedregon; 7. J.R. Todd; 8. Alexis DeJoria; 9. Paul Lee; 10. Chad Green; 11. John Force; 12. Blake Alexander; 13. Terry Haddock; 14. Todd Simpson; 15. Bobby Bode; 16. Jim Campbell.

Pro Stock _ 1. Matt Hartford; 2. Deric Kramer; 3. Kyle Koretsky; 4. Aaron Stanfield; 5. Greg Anderson; 6. Erica Enders; 7. Dallas Glenn; 8. Mason McGaha; 9. Chris McGaha; 10. Bruno Massel; 11. Rodger Brogdon; 12. Cristian Cuadra; 13. Kenny Delco; 14. Fernando Cuadra Jr.; 15. Val Smeland; 16. Troy Coughlin Jr. 

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Final class results Monday from the 34th annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals:

Top Fuel _ Steve Torrence, 4.001-seconds, 260.06 mph def. Doug Kalitta, 5.706-seconds, 168.26 mph. 

Funny Car _ Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.916, 327.19 def. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.684, 179.25. 

Pro Stock _ Matt Hartford, Chevy Camaro, 7.660, 145.11 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 18.318, 49.33. 

Top Alcohol Dragster _ Rachel Meyer, 5.150, 279.32 def. Shawn Cowie, 5.632, 270.21. 

Top Alcohol Funny Car _ Doug Gordon, Chevy Camaro, 5.468, 268.49 def. Nick Januik, Camaro, 5.500, 265.85. 

Competition Eliminator _ Chase Williams, Dragster, 6.727, 190.22 def. Keith Hall, Chevy Cavalier, 8.544, 160.27. 

Factory Stock Showdown _ David Barton, Chevy Camaro, 7.797, 173.07 def. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 7.815, 175.25. 

Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers _ Darian Boesch, Chevy Camaro, 6.320, 216.38 def. David Cuadra, Chevy Cobalt, 7.122, 185.84. 

Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers _ Ross Laris, Dragster, 6.122, 217.11 def. Will Carrell, Dragster, 6.783, 195.28. 

Final round-by-round results from the 34th annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals:

TOP FUEL 

ROUND ONE _ Shawn Langdon, 3.803, 304.94 def. Josh Hart, Broke; Clay Millican, 3.759, 323.50 def. Arthur Allen, 3.870, 301.13; Billy Torrence, 3.694, 329.50 def. Mike Salinas, 4.264, 191.21; Antron Brown, 4.142, 207.98 def. Lee Callaway, 10.054, 90.28; Justin Ashley, 3.770, 317.79 def. Leah Pruett, 12.703, 60.13; Steve Torrence, 4.047, 261.07 def. Mitch King, 6.574, 99.23; Doug Kalitta, 3.765, 281.01 def. Brittany Force, 4.738, 171.69; 

QUARTERFINALS _ S. Torrence, 3.711, 327.66 was unopposed; Langdon, 3.797, 318.02 def. Ashley, 3.781, 321.50; Kalitta, 3.778, 291.57 def. Brown, 5.889, 116.72; Millican, 3.737, 323.97 def. B. Torrence, 4.317, 185.79; 

SEMIFINALS _ Kalitta, 3.997, 272.06 def. Langdon, 4.181, 221.09; S. Torrence, 3.703, 323.81 def. Millican, 3.762, 324.75; 

FINAL _ S. Torrence, 4.001, 260.06 def. Kalitta, 5.706, 168.26. 

FUNNY CAR 

ROUND ONE _ J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.916, 327.43 def. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.971, 323.35; Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.481, 205.41 def. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 5.307, 182.16; Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.933, 328.94 def. Bobby Bode, Mustang, Broke/No Show; Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.894, 327.51 def. Paul Lee, Charger, 3.956, 322.88; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 5.268, 138.98 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, Broke/No Show; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.931, 314.53 def. Todd Simpson, Camaro, 25.341, 49.76; Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.971, 318.24 def. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 6.045, 120.13; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.946, 312.78 def. Chad Green, Mustang, 3.969, 320.28; 

QUARTERFINALS _ Wilkerson, 3.972, 321.42 def. DeJoria, 4.204, 229.16; Tasca III, 3.923, 327.98 def. Todd, 3.993, 323.43; Capps, 3.929, 325.30 def. Hagan, 3.964, 317.87; Hight, 3.913, 327.43 def. Pedregon, 3.991, 319.14; 

SEMIFINALS _ Capps, 3.915, 326.24 def. Wilkerson, 3.999, 322.04; Hight, 3.909, 328.78 def. Tasca III, 3.949, 328.14; 

FINAL _ Hight, 3.916, 327.19 def. Capps, 4.684, 179.25. 

PRO STOCK 

ROUND ONE _ Aaron Stanfield, Chevy Camaro, 6.572, 209.56 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.568, 208.78; Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.577, 209.72 def. Bruno Massel, Camaro, 6.605, 209.43; Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.593, 205.98 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, Foul/Red Light; Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.568, 208.94 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.635, 207.82; Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.585, 208.10 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.617, 210.11; Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.578, 209.46 def. Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.632, 208.46; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.539, 208.97 def. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Mustang, 6.690, 188.70; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.565, 209.49 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, 9.786, 102.49; 

QUARTERFINALS _ Koretsky, 6.595, 208.55 def. M. McGaha, 12.834, 67.56; Stanfield, 6.577, 209.75 def. Glenn, 6.685, 197.48; Hartford, 6.577, 208.75 def. Enders, 6.573, 209.75; Kramer, 6.563, 209.56 def. Anderson, 6.560, 209.39; 

SEMIFINALS _ Hartford, 6.568, 208.42 def. Stanfield, 11.994, 73.43; Kramer, 6.576, 209.52 def. Koretsky, 6.576, 209.01; 

FINAL _Hartford, 7.660, 145.11 def. Kramer, 18.318, 49.33. 

Point standings (top-10) following the 34th annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park powered by Pennzoil:

Top Fuel _1. Steve Torrence, 529; 2. Antron Brown, 389; 3. Shawn Langdon, 321; 4. Brittany Force, 308; 5. Doug Kalitta, 289; 6. Josh Hart, 278; 7. Billy Torrence, 267; 8. Justin Ashley, 245; 9. Clay Millican, 238; 10. Leah Pruett, 215.

Funny Car _ 1. Bob Tasca III, 438; 2. J.R. Todd, 396; 3. John Force, 361; 4. (tie) Ron Capps, 331; Robert Hight, 331; 6. Matt Hagan, 314; 7. Tim Wilkerson, 291; 8. Alexis DeJoria, 288; 9. Cruz Pedregon, 271; 10. Blake Alexander, 182.

Pro Stock _1. Greg Anderson, 439; 2. Deric Kramer, 355; 3. Erica Enders, 328; 4. Mason McGaha, 322; 5. Aaron Stanfield, 319; 6. Matt Hartford, 299; 7. Dallas Glenn, 290; 8. Kyle Koretsky, 280; 9. Troy Coughlin Jr., 268; 10. Chris McGaha, 209.

 

| , RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 25 2021
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