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NHRA: Torrence (TF), Todd (FC), Nobile (PS) are Four-Wide Las Vegas winners

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Top Fuel driver Steve Torrence won for the second time in the first four races of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series on Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Torrence (Top Fuel), J.R. Todd (Funny Car) and Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) all won in the final round of the sold-out DENSO Spark Plus NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.

It was the first-ever four-wide race at The Strip, which joins sister track zMAX Dragway as the only hosts of four-wide races. zMAX began the unique style of racing back in 2010.

Here’s how things played out:

* In Top Fuel: In the final round, Torrence made a 3.771 second pass at 326.63 mph to defeat No. 1 qualifier Tony Schumacher, Antron Brown and Doug Kalitta.

“I knew my team was confident coming into today, but going into a final round against Antron, Tony Schumacher and Doug up against you makes it a tough round,” Torrence said. “Our car still isn’t performing at the level it was last year.

“We just have to work on the car and prepare for the later part of this season when every race really matters.”

The win propelled Torrence to the top of the Top Fuel points standings.

* In Funny Car: Todd ran 4.041 seconds at 317.05 mph for his first win in Las Vegas and the 11th overall win of his NHRA career.

Todd held off Jack Beckman, No. 1 qualifier Courtney Force and Tommy Johnson Jr. to secure the win.

“We brought out a new car in Gainesville and struggled during Friday’s qualifying this weekend, but I got my confidence up in the fourth round of qualifying and then definitely carried over into today,” Todd said. “I know it’s going to be tough to crack the top 10 in this Funny Car class because it’s so competitive, so every win we can get is going to help us crack the Countdown to the Championship.”

* In Pro Stock: Just like Todd, Nobile also earned his first career win at Las Vegas and his 11th career NHRA win. He defeated Deric Kramer, Bo Butner and Chris McGaha in the final round.

“My team worked their tails off this weekend,” Nobile said. “We went through three engines over the weekend but overall it was a great weekend and there isn’t any reason we can’t be back in the winner’s circle again soon.

“The car has been running well but we have had some bad luck so far this season, but we are hoping this is our turning point.”

The next NHRA national event will be the April 20-22 at Royal Purple Raceway in suburban Houston, Texas.

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FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence; 2. Tony Schumacher; 3. Doug Kalitta; 4. Antron Brown; 5. Richie Crampton; 6. Steven Chrisman; 7. Leah Pritchett; 8. Clay Millican; 9. Billy Torrence; 10. Terry Totten; 11. Brittany Force; 12. Terry McMillen; 13. Troy Buff; 14. Mike Salinas; 15. Terry Haddock; 16. Scott Palmer.

FUNNY CAR: 1. J.R. Todd; 2. Jack Beckman; 3. Courtney Force; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 5. John Force; 6. Jonnie Lindberg; 7. Del Worsham; 8. Gary Densham; 9. Bob Tasca III; 10. Tim Wilkerson; 11. Robert Hight; 12. Cruz Pedregon; 13. Matt Hagan; 14. Ron Capps; 15. Shawn Langdon; 16. Jim Campbell.

PRO STOCK: 1. Vincent Nobile; 2. Deric Kramer; 3. Bo Butner; 4. Chris McGaha; 5. Greg Anderson; 6. Drew Skillman; 7. Matt Hartford; 8. Tanner Gray; 9. Shane Gray; 10. Alex Laughlin; 11. Steve Graham; 12. Joey Grose; 13. Jason Line; 14. Alan Prusiensky; 15. Erica Enders; 16. Jeg Coughlin.

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FINAL 

TOP FUEL: Steve Torrence, 3.771 seconds, 326.63 mph def. Tony Schumacher, 3.790 seconds, 325.22 mph and Doug Kalitta, 3.914 seconds, 273.27 mph and Antron Brown, 4.097 seconds, 252.52 mph.

FUNNY CAR: J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 4.041, 317.05 def. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.052, 312.21 and Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.007, 300.53 and Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, foul.

PRO STOCK: Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 6.690, 206.80 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.678, 206.45 and Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.682, 206.57 and Chris McGaha, Camaro, foul;

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FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Clay Millican, 3.744, 326.48 and Steve Torrence, 3.811, 326.87 def. Billy Torrence, 3.811, 321.73 and Troy Buff, 3.832, 314.39; Doug Kalitta, 3.819, 320.89 and Richie Crampton, 3.832, 313.22 def. Brittany Force, 4.690, 175.52 and Terry Haddock, 6.914, 76.49; Antron Brown, 3.797, 327.35 and Leah Pritchett, 3.793, 324.05 def. Terry Totten, 4.139, 278.17 and Mike Salinas, 4.398, 191.81; Tony Schumacher, 3.899, 257.43 and Steven Chrisman, 4.111, 284.81 def. Terry McMillen, 4.697, 173.01 and Scott Palmer, 7.975, 94.17; SEMIFINALS — S. Torrence, 3.763, 326.08 and Schumacher, 4.297, 249.49 def. Chrisman, 4.568, 216.24 and Millican, 5.970, 108.82; Kalitta, 3.864, 320.13 and Brown, 4.050, 278.58 def. Crampton, 4.261, 261.47 and Pritchett, 5.391, 149.51; FINAL — S. Torrence, 3.771, 326.63 def. Schumacher, 3.790, 325.22, Kalitta, 3.914, 273.27 and Brown, 4.097, 252.52.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.959, 318.99 and John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.015, 316.75 def. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.044, 314.97 and Shawn Langdon, Camry, 7.119, 104.82; Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.967, 317.87 and Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 4.389, 294.56 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 7.016, 73.75 and Jim Campbell, Dodge Charger, broke; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.030, 316.01 and Del Worsham, Camry, 4.496, 244.25 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.855, 172.36 and Matt Hagan, Charger, 5.899, 117.68; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.082, 305.56 and Gary Densham, Mustang, 5.304, 149.66 def. Robert Hight, Camaro, 6.165, 109.93 and Ron Capps, Charger, 6.697, 78.55; SEMIFINALS — Johnson Jr., 4.007, 314.68 and Todd, 4.054, 314.17 def. J. Force, 4.050, 315.34 and Worsham, 4.049, 307.93; Beckman, 4.013, 317.05 and C. Force, 4.126, 298.67 def. Lindberg, 4.674, 188.65 and Densham, 5.379, 136.72; FINAL — Todd, 4.041, 317.05 def. Beckman, 4.052, 312.21, C. Force, 4.007, 300.53 and Johnson Jr., foul.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.650, 207.59 and Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.685, 207.30 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.708, 206.10 and Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 10.415, 121.10; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.686, 206.16 and Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.695, 205.69 def. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.774, 204.51 and Jason Line, Camaro, 6.667, 205.38; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.672, 205.82 and Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.669, 205.98 def. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.684, 206.07 and Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.756, 204.70; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.668, 206.57 and Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.725, 203.74 def. Joey Grose, Camaro, 6.825, 202.73 and Erica Enders, Camaro, 7.311, 200.80; SEMIFINALS — Kramer, 6.693, 206.10 and Butner, 6.700, 205.91 def. Skillman, 6.697, 205.88 and T. Gray, 6.773, 206.07; McGaha, 6.675, 206.51 and Nobile, 6.674, 206.35 def. Anderson, 6.680, 207.62 and Hartford, 6.720, 205.72; FINAL — Nobile, 6.690, 206.80 def. Kramer, 6.678, 206.45, Butner, 6.682, 206.57 and McGaha, foul.

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UPDATED POINT STANDINGS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 333; 2. Tony Schumacher, 300; 3. Antron Brown, 290; 4. Clay Millican, 255; 5. Doug Kalitta, 248; 6. Richie Crampton, 215; 7. Leah Pritchett, 202; 8. Scott Palmer, 195; 9. Brittany Force, 158; 10. Terry McMillen, 148.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Jack Beckman, 338; 2. Courtney Force, 302; 3. Matt Hagan, 301; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., 265; 5. Ron Capps, 258; 6. J.R. Todd, 235; 7. Robert Hight, 222; 8. Shawn Langdon, 205; 9. Jonnie Lindberg, 171; 10. Del Worsham, 167.

PRO STOCK: 1. Bo Butner, 322; 2. Chris McGaha, 293; 3. Deric Kramer, 289; 4. Vincent Nobile, 283; 5. Jason Line, 268; 6. Greg Anderson, 253; 7. Drew Skillman, 242; 8. Tanner Gray, 229; 9. Alex Laughlin, 212; 10. Erica Enders,

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NHRA shocker in Houston: John Force fails to qualify for first time since 2008, snaps 221-race streak

Photo and videos courtesy NHRA
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Sunday’s eliminations in the 31st annual NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway in suburban Houston  just won’t be the same without John Force.

In one of the most stunning turn of events seen in the last decade-plus in NHRA drag racing, the legendary 16-time Funny Car champion and the sport’s all-time winningest driver on Saturday failed to qualify for Sunday’s main event of the race weekend.

It marks the first time Force, who turns 69 on May 4, failed to qualify for a race since Sept. 13, 2008 in Charlotte race, snapping a string of having made the eliminations in each of the subsequent 221 races until failing to do so Saturday.

“That is hard for me,” Force said after failing to go any faster than 222.29 mph in the four qualifying rounds for the race, two on Friday and the other two on Saturday. “You earn what you get. We didn’t put it in the show. We couldn’t get to half-track.

“We have had a lot of problems all year. At least I got my final shot to get in and I didn’t make it. I will be here tomorrow rooting on Robert, Courtney and Brittany (teammates Robert Hight and daughters Courtney and Brittany Force). I’ll be signing autographs for all the fans. I am sorry to all of you fans that I didn’t make it.”

Saturday’s failure to qualify marked only the 22nd time he’s DNQ’d in his 40-year professional drag racing career. He set a drag racing record by qualifying for 395 consecutive events from 1988 until April 2007.

“I am bummed that the boss didn’t get in. That was quite a streak he had going,” Hight said of hoss and father-in-law. “There is nobody better at rallying a team and leading a comeback than John Force.

“He loves the fight and he will do whatever it takes to get his team back on top. It really isn’t something to worry about because two of our Chevys are No.1 and No. 2 right now.

“We have good combinations and we just have to duplicate one of those set ups for John’s PEAK Funny car. He’ll be back next week in Charlotte.”

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As for the other classes (information courtesy NHRA Media Relations):Leah Pritchett set a new Top Fuel track record during the final qualifying session on Saturday to secure the top spot in Top Fuel heading into Sunday.Hight (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) are also No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the fifth of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Defending event champion Pritchett raced her Mopar Dodge dragster to a pass of 3.680-seconds at 326.00 mph. This is her first No. 1 qualifier of the season and eighth of her career.

“We’ve been developing our confidence the last couple of races,” Pritchett stated. “To be able to put it on the track is phenomenal. We know we need to be exceptional because our competition is exceptional.”

Pritchett will line up against Terry Brian in round one of eliminations on Sunday. Defending world champion Brittany Force locked-in the No. 2 spot after a 3.701 at 313.80 in her Monster Energy dragster. Tony Schumacher is seeded third and will face William Litton.

Hight’s final qualifying pass of 3.894 at 317.27 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro took him to the top of the Funny Car category. This is his first No. 1 qualifier of the season, second at Houston and 58th of his career.

“This is going to be a new ball game tomorrow,” Hight said. “With fresh asphalt and the sun being out; these cars are going to spin. It’s definitely going to be fun. Two of our Chevy’s are one and two (in Funny Car) which shows we have good combinations.”

Hight will face-off against Todd Simpson Sunday morning in the first round. Teammate Courtney Force sits in the No. 2 position with a pass of 3.911 at 295.14 in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro and two-time world champion Matt Hagan rounds out the top three.

Anderson, four-time Pro Stock world champion, remained atop the field Saturday with his pass of 6.492 at 213.00 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro from the first qualifying session on Friday. He notched his third consecutive No. 1 qualifier of the season and is seeking his first victory of the year.

“I haven’t had great Sunday’s yet,” Anderson stated. “I know I’m going to break through one of these days though. The weather is going to be great again tomorrow. I feel good about it, I’m excited and so far it’s just been a great weekend.”

Anderson will race Steve Graham in the first round of eliminations. Jeg Coughlin Jr. qualified in the No. 2 position with a pass of 6.504 at 212.36 in his JEGS.com/Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro and Tanner Gray is third.

Eliminations at the NHRA SpringNationals begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday at Royal Purple Raceway.

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SUNDAY’S FIRST-ROUND PAIRINGS FOR ELIMINATIONS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Leah Pritchett, 3.680 seconds, 326.00 mph vs. 16. Terry Brian, 4.275, 284.62; 2. Brittany Force, 3.701, 320.20 vs. 15. Terry Haddock, 4.081, 287.17; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.703, 322.73 vs. 14. Bill Litton, 3.927, 306.60; 4. Billy Torrence, 3.737, 317.87 vs. 13. Kebin Kinsley, 3.819, 313.51; 5. Antron Brown, 3.740, 324.98 vs. 12. Terry McMillen, 3.783, 314.31; 6. Clay Millican, 3.746, 315.78 vs. 11. Mike Salinas, 3.766, 313.73; 7. Doug Kalitta, 3.748, 320.05 vs. 10. Richie Crampton, 3.766, 316.23; 8. Scott Palmer, 3.754, 318.17 vs. 9. Steve Torrence, 3.759, 313.88. Did Not Qualify: 17. Terry Totten, 4.636, 216.34.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.894, 317.27 vs. 16. Todd Simpson, Dodge Charger, 4.318, 288.33; 2. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.911, 313.58 vs. 15. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Camry, 4.151, 283.49; 3. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.913, 311.85 vs. 14. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.077, 305.77; 4. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.918, 317.42 vs. 13. Richard Townsend, Camry, 4.026, 308.99; 5. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.918, 301.94 vs. 12. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.017, 307.51; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.925, 311.41 vs. 11. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.994, 311.34; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.926, 313.00 vs. 10. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.989, 313.37; 8. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.927, 316.52 vs. 9. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.938, 314.09. Did Not Qualify: 17. Jim Campbell, 4.341, 273.05; 18. John Force, 4.625, 222.29.

PRO STOCK: 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.492, 213.00 vs. 16. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.775, 205.60; 2. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.504, 212.36 vs. 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.621, 208.65; 3. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.507, 211.99 vs. 14. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 6.592, 210.93; 4. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.513, 212.29 vs. 13. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.548, 210.67; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.518, 211.99 vs. 12. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.545, 210.50; 6. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.525, 212.79 vs. 11. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.532, 212.73; 7. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.527, 212.29 vs. 10. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.532, 211.79; 8. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.528, 211.93 vs. 9. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.530, 211.33.