Four-time and defending Top Fuel world champion Steve Torrence made the quickest run in New England Dragway history, driving to the provisional No. 1 spot on Friday at the NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.
Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Dallas Glenn (Pro Stock) are also the provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the eighth of 22 races during the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
Torrence set the track E.T. record with a run of 3.664s at 329.50mph in his Capco Contractors dragster. After seven races, the four-time champ is still seeking his first win of the 2022 season and could also claim his second No. 1 qualifier this year. New England Dragway has also been good to the Torrence family, with Steve winning in back-to-back years before his father Billy won last year. After Friday’s standout run, Steve also has the track record with his stellar blast to close out the day.
“There was so much emotion behind that run just because we’ve been working so hard and diligently to really make this car do that,” Torrence said. “[I] couldn’t be happier for every one of these guys on the team because it’s so much hard work and this is like seven or eight races now without us winning one, and it’s all a sacrifice you have to make. You have to tear stuff down to build it back up stronger and that’s where we’re at. I’m not going to say that we’re there yet, but we’re definitely a step in the right direction. That’s a confidence booster for myself and for every one of the guys. That’s what we needed to do, and it came at the perfect time.”
Force finished in the second spot with the only other run in the 3.60s on Friday, going 3.687s at 329.50mph. She’s after her fourth win this season. Mike Salinas, who has two wins in 2022, is third with a run of 3.705s at 328.06mph.
Points leader Hagan continued to put together spectacular runs in Funny Car, delivering an impressive blast of 3.878s at 332.51mph in his Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat. Hagan’s knack for delivering a big run on Friday this year continued, helping him close in on his second straight No. 1 qualifier. If it holds, it will also give Hagan his 46th career No. 1 qualifier as he looks for his fourth career win at New England Dragway. Hagan won three straight years in Epping, N.H. before his streak was snapped last year, and his bid for a third victory in 2022 for the first-year Tony Stewart Racing team took a good step on Friday.
“This Power Brokers Dodge is exciting to drive all the time,” Hagan said. “Having [crew chief] Dickie Venables under the hood is a godsend. These are Dickie’s conditions. The guy is just a mastermind, and I’m just trying to do a good job driving it. You see guys out there shaking the tires, smoking it, not making full pulls because the track is so good. A lot of crew chiefs underestimated it, but one thing about this team is they don’t underestimate anything. They go for the jugular, and they seem to hit it a lot. I think we’ll have to step up [on Saturday]. If you get another day like today, you better put your mouthpiece in and hang on.”
Blake Alexander claimed the second spot thanks to a solid run of 3.911s at 325.22mph, while Jim Campbell’s career-best pass of 3.965s at 315.64mph has him third after the opening run. Tim Wilkerson is right behind in fourth after going 3.966s at 320.66mph.
Glenn, the reigning NHRA Rookie of the Year, closed in on his first No. 1 qualifier of year, going 6.543s at 209.33mph in his RAD Torque Systems Chevrolet Camaro. With Pro Stock making its first appearance since late April, it was Glenn who made the biggest impression on Friday. Racing for just the second time in Epping in his career, Glenn is after his second career No. 1 qualifier, as well as his second victory this season.
“We were pretty happy. I’m sure the crew chiefs probably feel like there’s more left in it, but to come out and put a nice solid lap down definitely shows we were working hard these past few weeks and that we’ve kind of stayed in the groove,” Glenn said. We didn’t have too much rust to shake off. The run felt nice and smooth; it felt natural, and I’m just glad I didn’t make any mistakes on my part.
“Tomorrow is going to be good. I’d definitely like to stay in that No. 1 spot and see Greg [Anderson, KB Racing teammate] get down the track and make a good, solid run. Our ultimate goal for this team is one, two and three, so that’s what I’d like to see, but with the field bunched up as tight as it is, you can see that the other teams have been working, too.”
Glenn’s KB Racing teammate, Kyle Koretsky, is right behind in second after going 6.544s at 209.95mph, while Aaron Stanfield, who has a pair of wins this year, is nearly as close in third with his 6.545s at 211.00mph.
Qualifying continues at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday at New England Dragway.