(Photos courtesy NHRA)

NHRA: Steve Torrence ready to climb mountain again in Denver for another win

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Top Fuel driver Steve Torrence is picking up where he left off.From four years ago, that is.

The Texas native had his best season ever performance-wise in 2012, winning the first three races of his Top Fuel career. Unfortunately, he struggled during the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff and finished ninth in the final standings.

Torrence wouldn’t win again until last year, when he reached the winner’s circle at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colorado (a suburb of Denver).

Torrence is now looking to make it two wins in a row at Denver, which is where the NHRA national tour finds itself this weekend for the 37th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals.

“I’m not bragging on ourselves, but we’ve had one of the best cars in Denver the last few years,” Torrence said. “As far as our gameplan, we’re going to continue to do what we’ve been doing.

“We have a good baseline (for Denver) and we’re not going to deviate from that.”

2016_Steve_Torrence headshot
NHRA Top Fuel driver Steve Torrence

But there’s more: Torrence is also looking for his third win of 2016, which would tie the number of wins he earned in 2012. And there are 11 races remaining for Torrence to do just that.

In addition, Torrence is ranked a solid third in the Top Fuel point standings heading into this weekend.

Much of the upswing in Torrence’s performance this season is the affiliation with 15-time NHRA Top Fuel champion crew chief and team owner Alan Johnson, who is also working with and has likewise led Brittany Force to two wins this season, as well.

As a result, Torrence not only has gone on to two wins under Johnson’s watch, he also has one runner-up showing and has qualified a class-best No. 1 six times in the first 13 races of 2016.

“I think as far as me making strides, it’s the confidence this team has given me,” Torrence said in an NHRA media release. “I’m just confident in this car and this team does their job flawlessly. I cannot give them enough credit for giving me the confidence to drive this car.

“Everybody has been together a minimum of two years and that cohesiveness has been a huge part of it. Richard (crew chief Richard Hogan) is more confident than ever and Alan (Johnson) is just the best in the business. To have him at your disposal for consulting or a question or advice, that’s a huge benefit.”

While Torrence is taking things one race at a time, he’s also well aware that not only will he likely make the six-race Countdown for the Championship, he’ll also be going for his first NHRA Top Fuel crown.

“We’ve been digging deep and working as hard as we can,” Torrence said. “We’re in a fight for a championship and everything you do has to count moving forward.

“You can’t stand pat and sit idle to win a championship in this class. The parity is better than it has ever been. We’re trying to get up there and close that gap and maybe open up the gap with the people behind us. The higher you start in the Countdown, the easier you make it on yourself.”

NOTES: Sunday race, which kicks off the annual “Western Swing” (Denver, Sonoma and Seattle) marks the first time in NHRA’s 65-year history that the semifinals and final round will be televised live on national network television (FOX).

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MOPAR MILE-HIGH NHRA NATIONALS FACT SHEET

WHAT: 37th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, the 14th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The NHRA Lucas Oil Series also will be featured at this event.

WHERE: Bandimere Speedway, Morrison, Colo. The track is 10 miles west of Denver, just north of the historic town of Morrison. From Denver, take Interstate 70 west to C-470 and travel south to the Morrison Road exit. Take Morrison Road west to Rooney Road and go north to the track.

COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 5,860 feet above sea level; Track direction is south to north.

WHEN: Friday through Sunday, July 22-24

SCHEDULE:        

FRIDAY, July 22- LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying

MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 5 and 7:30 p.m.

SATURDAY, July 23- LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations

MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 4 and 6:30 p.m.

SUNDAY, July 24 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.

MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

TELEVISION:      

Friday, July 22, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 8 p.m. (ET).

Saturday, July 23, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 11:30 p.m. (ET).

Sunday, July 24, FOX will televise three hours of live finals coverage at 3 p.m. (ET).

2015 EVENT WINNERS: Steve Torrence, Top Fuel; Jack Beckman, Funny Car; Larry Morgan, Pro Stock, Eddie Krawiec, Pro Stock Motorcycle.

MOST VICTORIES: Bob Glidden, 7, PS; Joe Amato, 6, TF; John Force, 6, FC; Allen Johnson, 6, PS; Warren Johnson, 5, PS; Matt Hines, 4, PSM

TRACK RECORDS:            

Top Fuel – 3.791 sec. by Larry Dixon, July ’15; 326.95 mph by Brittany Force, July ’15.

Funny Car – 4.015 sec. by John Force July ’15; 318.39 mph by Force, July ’14.

Pro Stock – 6.877 sec. by Allen Johnson, July ’15; 201.01 mph by Shane Gray, July ’15.

PS Motorcycle – 7.169 sec. by Eddie Krawiec, July ’15; 187.96 mph by Hector Arana Jr., July ’15.

NATIONAL RECORDS:    

Top Fuel – 3.676 sec. by Brittany Force, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.

Funny Car – 3.862 sec. and 335.57 mph by Matt Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.

Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.;  215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.

PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.

TICKETS: For tickets, call (800) 664-UWIN (8946) or purchase online atwww.bandimere.com.

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NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS

Top Fuel: 1.  Antron Brown, 1,056; 2.  Doug Kalitta, 1,054; 3.  Steve Torrence, 912; 4.  Brittany Force, 896; 5.  Tony Schumacher, 803; 6.  Shawn Langdon, 746; 7.  J.R. Todd, 725; 8.  (tie) Richie Crampton, 603; Clay Millican, 603; 10.  Leah Pritchett, 521.

Funny Car: 1.  Ron Capps, 1,068; 2.  Jack Beckman, 942; 3.  Courtney Force, 892; 4.  Matt Hagan, 828; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., 803; 6.  Robert Hight, 799; 7.  Del Worsham, 796; 8.  Tim Wilkerson, 760; 9. John Force, 699; 10.  Alexis DeJoria, 697.

Pro Stock: 1.  Jason Line, 1,472; 2.  Greg Anderson, 1,392; 3.  Bo Butner, 898; 4.  Allen Johnson, 773; 5. Drew Skillman, 717; 6.  Vincent Nobile, 666; 7.  Shane Gray, 619; 8.  Chris McGaha, 610; 9.  Jeg Coughlin, 580; 10.  Alex Laughlin, 530.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1.  Eddie Krawiec, 639; 2.  Andrew Hines, 505; 3.  Angelle Sampey, 471; 4.  Jerry Savoie, 428; 5. Hector Arana, 344; 6.  Chip Ellis, 333; 7.  LE Tonglet, 289; 8.  Steve Johnson, 258; 9.  Matt Smith, 235; 10.  Michael Ray, 228.

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.