Torrence stretches Top Fuel lead with victory
Steve Torrence took his second consecutive Top Fuel victory with a win at Gateway as Robert Hight grabbed the Funny Car honors despite an engine explosion, and Tanner Gray and Matt Smith conquered Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle respectively.
Coming off his victory to kick-off the Countdown to the Championship, Torrence remained hot and went 3.770-seconds at 323.66 mph in his Capco Contractors/Torrence Racing dragster to defeat Clay Millican’s 3.798 at 320.28 in the final round, earning his seventh victory of the season and 23rd of his career. With the win, Torrence now has a 70-point lead over Millican.
“This is going to be a really hard-fought war,” Torrence stated. “I couldn’t have a better group of guys to be backing me up. I’m blessed and fortunate to be a part of that team right there and not drop the ball. I’m very confident going forward and this is all we could’ve asked for to start the Countdown."
Torrence beat Bill Litton, Mike Salinas and Leah Pritchett to reach the final round. Millican defeated Shawn Reed, three-time world champion Antron Brown, and Pat Dakin.
Defending champion Robert Hight secured the category points lead after going 4.036 at 276.29 to beat Tim Wilkerson’s 4.413 at 201.91 and pick up his third victory of 2018 and 44th overall. Hight suffered an engine explosion as he crossed the finish line and exited the vehicle under his own power. He was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.
Before beating Wilkerson, Hight defeated Dale Creasy Jr., his own father-in-law John Force, and Tommy Johnson Jr.
Tanner Gray grabbed his sixth victory of the season and 11th of his career in his Valvoline/Gray Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro after going 6.567 at 211.06 in the final round to defeat Drew Skillman’s 11.409 at 78.68. Gray, who knocked off Chris McGaha, Erica Enders and Vincent Nobile to extend his points lead over the category.
“During qualifying we didn’t run as well as we thought we should have,” Gray said. “We made nice runs, but we never got aggressive enough. It was cool to see everyone come in with their head on straight and fight back to get a win. I felt like all of us did a really good job of just going round-by-round.”
Skillman was in his second consecutive final round and was seeking his first victory of the 2018 season. He didn't get the victory but did climb to third in points after beating Kenny Delco, defending world champion Bo Butner, and No. 1 qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr. on Sunday.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
Matt Smith earned his second victory of 2018 and 20th of his career with a holeshot win of 6.877 at 198.44 to LE Tonglet’s 6.876 at 196.10. M. Smith took the points lead after his third win at the track on his Elite Motorsports DENSO Auto Parts EBR. He picked up wins against Scotty Pollacheck, Joey Gladstone ,and No. 1 qualifier Chip Ellis en route to the finals.
“We hurt our motor on Friday night,” M. Smith stated. “Angie (Smith, wife) and I stayed up all night rebuilding it. The Harleys got three bikes out here trying to whoop up on us but we’re going to try and do our best to stay focused and do our job. As long as we don’t have any part failures we will be fine.”
Finish order at the seventh annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park
TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence; 2. Clay Millican; 3. Leah Pritchett; 4. Pat Dakin; 5. Antron Brown; 6. Tony Schumacher; 7. Blake Alexander; 8. Mike Salinas; 9. Doug Kalitta; 10. Bill Litton; 11. Brittany Force; 12. Billy Torrence; 13. Shawn Reed; 14. Terry McMillen; 15. Richie Crampton; 16. Scott Palmer.
Final: Steve Torrence, 3.770 seconds, 323.66 mph def. Clay Millican, 3.798 seconds, 320.28 mph.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight; 2. Tim Wilkerson; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 4. J.R. Todd; 5. Cruz Pedregon; 6. John Force; 7. Courtney Force; 8. Bob Tasca III; 9. Jonnie Lindberg; 10. Ron Capps; 11. Shawn Langdon; 12. Del Worsham; 13. Dale Creasy Jr.; 14. Jack Beckman; 15. Matt Hagan; 16. Jim Campbell.
Final: Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.036, 276.29 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.413, 201.91.
PRO STOCK: 1. Tanner Gray; 2. Drew Skillman; 3. Vincent Nobile; 4. Jeg Coughlin; 5. Greg Anderson; 6. Erica Enders; 7. Jason Line; 8. Bo Butner; 9. Chris McGaha; 10. Kenny Delco; 11. Val Smeland; 12. Charlie Westcott Jr.; 13. Mark Hogan; 14. Fernando Cuadra; 15. Alan Prusiensky; 16. Deric Kramer.
Final: Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.567, 211.06 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 11.409, 78.68.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Matt Smith; 2. LE Tonglet; 3. Chip Ellis; 4. Jerry Savoie; 5. Joey Gladstone; 6. Angelle Sampey; 7. Andrew Hines; 8. Angie Smith; 9. Eddie Krawiec; 10. Steve Johnson; 11. Ryan Oehler; 12. Mark Paquette; 13. Jim Underdahl; 14. Scotty Pollacheck; 15. Hector Arana; 16. Hector Arana Jr.
Final: Matt Smith, EBR, 6.877, 198.44 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.867, 196.10.
Point standings after 20 of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 2,346; 2. Clay Millican, 2,276; 3. Tony Schumacher, 2,225; 4. Leah Pritchett, 2,192; 5. Antron Brown, 2,169; 6. Doug Kalitta, 2,135; 7. Mike Salinas, 2,119; 8. Terry McMillen, 2,093; 9. (tie) Brittany Force, 2,085; Scott Palmer, 2,085.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, 2,270; 2. J.R. Todd, 2,240; 3. Courtney Force, 2,200; 4. Tim Wilkerson, 2,196; 5. Ron Capps, 2,182; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,166; 7. Matt Hagan, 2,144; 8. John Force, 2,116; 9. Jack Beckman, 2,113; 10. Shawn Langdon, 2,086.
PRO STOCK: 1. Tanner Gray, 2,296; 2. Vincent Nobile, 2,244; 3. Drew Skillman, 2,222; 4. Jeg Coughlin, 2,215; 5. Greg Anderson, 2,206; 6. Erica Enders, 2,192; 7. Jason Line, 2,133; 8. Bo Butner, 2,120; 9. Deric Kramer, 2,104; 10. Chris McGaha, 2,064.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Matt Smith, 2,263; 2. LE Tonglet, 2,242; 3. Eddie Krawiec, 2,222; 4. Hector Arana Jr, 2,214; 5. Andrew Hines, 2,201; 6. Jerry Savoie, 2,154; 7. Angie Smith, 2,115; 8. Steve Johnson, 2,108; 9. Scotty Pollacheck, 2,094; 10. Angelle Sampey, 2,085.
Todd, Torrence, Nobile and Arana Jr. win opening Countdown round
Hight, Torrence, Gray, Tonglet prevail in Texas