Defending Top Fuel world champion Steve Torrence secured his second consecutive victory at the Virginia NHRA Nationals and his third of the season Sunday evening at Virginia Motorsports Park.
Ron Capps (Funny Car), Bo Butner (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also winners in their respective categories at the eighth of 24 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events.
TOP FUEL: Torrence walked away with his 30th Top Fuel victory in his Capco Contractors dragster with a run of 3.881-seconds at 319.82 mph to defeat Antron Brown’s 3.899 at 309.49 in the final round. This was the 10th time the pair had met in the finals. Brown won the first five and Torrence has clinched the last five victories.
Along the way, Torrence secured round wins against Todd Paton, Scott Palmer, and his father Billy Torrence en route to his 45th career final round.
“Hands down and hats off to the whole Capco team,” Torrence stated. “Those guys gave me the best race car of the day. We were the guys that went down the track four times in a row. All I had to do was not run over anything or anybody, and they gave me the best car ever. Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana (crew chiefs) — they make the right calls when the pressure is on. In cowboy terms, I rode the two best horses out there.”
Brown defeated teammate Leah Pritchett, Brittany Force and Mike Salinas.
FUNNY CAR: Capps secured his second consecutive Funny Car Wally in his NAPA Brakes Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, defeating defending world champion J.R. Todd in the finals. This win marks Capps’ 62nd Funny Car win and 63rd overall, along with his 30th victory with crew chief Rahn Tobler since 2012.
Capps beat Jim Campbell, Robert Hight and teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. to reach the final round.
“Just go up there and not make a mistake was my mindset today,” Capps said. “Tobler told me in the trailer prior to the final round, ‘I don’t know why it smoked the tires all day. Everybody has had problems and we’re just going to put it like we did first round when it went 3.99.’ I rolled it in there and obviously it went a bit slower but that’s what he went up there to do. Vintage Rahn Tobler.”
Todd beat Bob Tasca III, teammate Shawn Langdon and Jonnie Lindberg to reach the finals.
PRO STOCK: Butner locked-in his fourth win this season when his pass of 6.599 at 209.01 in his Jim Butner Auto Chevrolet Camaro took down Greg Anderson. This is Butner’s fourth victory this season, his first at this facility and 11th of his career.
Anderson was the last driver back in 2004 to secure four victories in the first five events of the season.
Butner also went to the final round of the SAMTech.Edu Factory Stock Showdown where he fell short to Drew Skillman on a holeshot.
“It’s been an amazing season and a good call to come back,” Butner stated. “We made a very good run in the final. Greg and I both made mediocre runs up until that point. The track was great. It’s very smooth and the Franklins did a great job with this place. It would be nice if we came back here a couple of times.
“It was fun running two cars multiple rounds today,” Butner added. “It was a good day and I can’t complain.”
Butner defeated Wally Stroupe, Chris McGaha and Jeg Coughlin Jr. on his way to his 24th career final round.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: Hines, the No. 1 qualifier, earned his third straight PSM victory, fourth overall of 2019 and 52nd in his career, after going 6.845 at 195.68 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod to defeat teammate Eddie Krawiec in the final round.
The last Pro Stock Motorcycle rider to win four of the first five events to start the season was Hines’ brother, Matt, in 1998.
“We have developed a very good hot weather tune up for our Street Rods and that’s saying a lot,” Hines said. “We typically do not look forward to the middle of the season because that’s where our performance tends to fall off and people make up ground on us. Today we were able to take what we’ve learned the last couple of weeks between Charlotte when it got hot and Atlanta when it was really hot. We don’t ever go up there (the starting line) with the same tune up, ever. It was a little bit of picking on it here and there which has led to us finding the window where we need to be.”
The category points leader defeated Jiana Salinas, Ryan Oehler and defending world champion Matt Smith to reach the final round.
Krawiec took down Kelly Clontz, Karen Stoffer and Hector Arana Jr. en route to his 25th final round against Hines.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series moves to Chicago for the Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway May 30-June 2.