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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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Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

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Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.

If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”

The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.

“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”

Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.

Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.

“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.

“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:

–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;

–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”

–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.

“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).