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

Photos and videos courtesy NHRA
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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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Kyle Busch interests McLaren for Indy 500, but team is leaning toward experience

McLaren Indy Kyle Busch
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With Arrow McLaren SP heavily weighing a fourth car for the Indy 500 next year, Kyle Busch is a candidate but not at the top of the IndyCar team’s list.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown addressed the possibility Wednesday morning during a video news conference with Gavin Ward, the team’s newly named racing director.

“I have not personally spoken with Kyle Busch, but you can read into that that someone else in our organization has,” Brown said. “We want to make sure if we run a fourth car, we’re in the mindset that we want someone that is experienced around the 500. It’s such an important race, and from a going for the championship point of view, we’ve got three drivers that we want to have finish as strong as possible, so if we ran a fourth car, we’d want to be additive, not only for the fourth car itself, but to the three cars and so bringing in someone who’s not done it before potentially doesn’t add that value from an experience point of view.”

Busch will race the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing next season in NASCAR under a new deal that will allow the two-time Cup Series champion to make his Indy 500 debut. Busch, who had a previous deal to run the Indy 500 nixed by Joe Gibbs Racing, openly courted Chevy IndyCar teams to contact him during his introductory news conference with RCR last month.

After Team Penske (which has given no indications of a fourth car at Indy alongside champion Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), McLaren is the second-best Chevy organization, and it’s fielded an extra Indy 500 car the past two years for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Associated Press reported last month that McLaren was in “serious conversation” about running Busch at Indy with Menards sponsorship.

But with its restructured management, the team is in the midst of significant expansion for 2023. AMSP is adding a third full-time car for 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to team with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and a massive new shop also is being built in the Indianapolis area.

“(It’s) not because of him but purely because of experience,” Brown said of Busch. “He’s an awesome talent and would be huge, huge news for the speedway. But yeah, I think everyone is under consideration if we decide to do it, but experience is right at the top of the list as far as what’s going to be the most important to us.”

And it seems likely there will be a veteran joining Rossi, O’Ward and Rosenqvist at the Brickyard.

“A fourth car at the 500 is very much under consideration,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t even want to get ahead of ourselves, but we wouldn’t be ruling out a fourth car in the future on a full-time basis. That definitely wouldn’t be for ’23. But as we expand the team and get into larger facilities and things of that nature, it’s something that Gavin and I have spoken about.

“I think we would be in a position to run a fourth car at the 500 this upcoming year. If we do decide to do that, we’ll make that decision soon for maximum preparation, and I would say we’re open minded to a fourth car in ’24 and beyond and probably will make that decision middle of next year in time to be prepared if we did decide to do that.”

Brown also addressed the future of Alex Palou, who will be racing for Chip Ganassi Racing next season after also signing a deal with McLaren. Though Brown declined to get into specifics about whether Palou had signed a new deal, he confirmed Palou will continue to test “our Formula One car from time to time.

“Everyone has reached an amicable solution,” Brown said. “We’ve now had Alex in our Formula One car as we have Pato. That will continue in the future, which we’re quite excited about. At this point we’re laser-focused on 2023 and glad to have the noise behind us and now just want to put our head down and get on with the job with the three drivers we have.”