NHRA Charlotte: Cruz Pedregon gets 1st win since 2014, Steve Torrence wins 3rd of 2018

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Sunday’s NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals saw one driver who hasn’t won in a while take home a victory, while another driver continues to dominate in 2018.

Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon earned his first win in nearly four years (since Englishtown in 2014), while Steve Torrence continued to dominate the Top Fuel class with his third win in the season’s first six races.

Also winning: Erica Enders in Pro Stock and Jerry Savoie in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

In Funny Car: Pedregon covered the 1,000-foot drag strip in 4.059 seconds at 310.84 mph, outlasting 16-time Funny Car champ John Force, daughter and No. 1 qualifier Courtney Force and Tommy Johnson Jr.

It was Pedregon’s 36th career win in the Funny Car ranks, moving him past legendary Don “Snake” Prudhomme into fifth place for all-time wins in Funny Car.

“I knew we had our work cut out for us when I pulled up to the starting line in the finals, and I actually didn’t believe my ears when my team manager told me that I won,” Pedregon said. “It was surreal, and I cannot believe that I won this race.”

Pedregon snapped a 92-race winless streak.

“Ninety-two is a good number because that’s also the year I won my first championship,” said Pedregon, who became the fifth different winner in six Funny Car races this season. “I didn’t actually believe my ears when I heard we won. It was surreal. It’s still a little bit surreal. I cannot believe we won this race. It’s pretty cool.

“I thought at one point, ‘Man, maybe I’m not destined to win anymore.’ I don’t want to do this if I don’t feel like I’m competitive. This is a lot of stress. I have a daughter who’s seven and this is a lot of travel. … This might be the best, sweetest victory of my career. I’ve been fortunate to drive some good cars and win a lot of races but this one’s big. It meant a lot to me that our competitors, John Force and Courtney Force, came up and congratulated me.”

In Top Fuel: Torrence continued to be the man to beat, earning his third win of 2018 and back into first place in the point standings. It was also Torrence’s 19th national event win and his second career win at zMAX Dragway. It’s also his third straight four-wide win: last year at Charlotte, this year at Las Vegas and again at Charlotte.

Torrence’s 3.813-second pass at 326.56 mph defeated the other three drivers in the final round of Top Fuel eliminations: Doug Kalitta, Clay Millican and Terry McMillen.

“It’s pretty unbelievable,” said Torrence, who also won the four-wide event at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on April 8. “The car performed flawlessly. It did everything it was supposed to. The team deserves the success. I just drive the race car and try not to do anything dumb. They cover my butt.

“If I honestly knew what the recipe (to winning four-wide races) was, I’d try to write it down so I wouldn’t forget.”

In Pro Stock: Enders won her 23rd career NHRA national event win with a performance of 6.535 seconds and 212.73 mph, defeating Vincent Nobile, Chris McGaha and No. 1 qualifier Drew Skillman.

It was Enders’ first win in nearly a year, having last won last season at Epping, New Hampshire.

“We made a car change going into our home race in Houston last week and we made it to the finals,” Enders said, adding “so we came into this race with some confidence. This is definitely a special victory for me.

“I’ve never won a four-wide race so this is definitely significant to me. To be able to come back and win the four-wide is great. I have the best team of guys in all of motorsports.”

In Pro Stock Motorcycle: Savoie earned his ninth career NHRA win with a run of 6.784 seconds at 195.73 mph, defeating Andrew Hines, Scotty Pollacheck and Matt Smith.

“We struggled all weekend, but my team worked really hard to get things right so we went out and gave it all we got and figured some things out,” Savoie said. “My reaction times on this bike are traditionally not great, but I was able to do pretty well today and we had the power on this bike to get a win.”

It was an emotional celebration for Savoie, who tried to hold back tears of joy.

“We got after it and it showed,” Savoie said. “It’s pretty cool. I don’t have the best reaction times on the bike, as everyone knows, but I cut a decent light.

“People ask me, ‘Why do you cry when you win?’ It takes a lot of dedication to do this – even to get to the finals. It’s a tough gig. At my age, at 59, when you win one, you never know if it’ll be your last one.”

The next race is this coming weekend, May 4-6: the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia.

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FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence; 2. Doug Kalitta; 3. Terry McMillen; 4. Clay Millican; 5. Dom Lagana; 6. Shawn Reed; 7. Mike Salinas; 8. Audrey Worm; 9. Brittany Force; 10. Tony Schumacher; 11. Antron Brown; 12. Kyle Wurtzel; 13. Leah Pritchett; 14. Scott Palmer; 15. Richie Crampton; 16. Pat Dakin.

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

PRO STOCK: 1. Erica Enders; 2. Vincent Nobile; 3. Chris McGaha; 4. Drew Skillman; 5. Jeg Coughlin; 6. Bo Butner; 7. Alex Laughlin; 8. Tanner Gray; 9. Jason Line; 10. Greg Anderson; 11. John Gaydosh Jr; 12. Alan Prusiensky; 13. Val Smeland; 14. Deric Kramer; 15. Matt Hartford; 16. Kenny Delco.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Jerry Savoie; 2. Andrew Hines; 3. Scotty Pollacheck; 4. Matt Smith; 5. LE Tonglet; 6. Ryan Oehler; 7. Cory Reed; 8. Angelle Sampey; 9. Angie Smith; 10. Karen Stoffer; 11. Joey Gladstone; 12. Jim Underdahl; 13. Eddie Krawiec; 14. Steve Johnson; 15. Hector Arana Jr; 16. Hector Arana.

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FINAL RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: Steve Torrence, 3.813 seconds, 326.56 mph def. Doug Kalitta, 4.010 seconds, 278.12 mph and Terry McMillen, 4.361 seconds, 235.72 mph and Clay Millican, 5.295 seconds, 129.97 mph.

FUNNY CAR: Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.059, 310.84 def. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.098, 307.93 and Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 4.143, 275.39 and Courtney Force, Camaro, 6.215, 114.46.

PRO STOCK: Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.535, 212.73 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.520, 212.69 and Chris McGaha, Camaro, 8.237, 118.82 and Drew Skillman, Camaro, 18.515, 43.69.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.784, 195.73 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.873, 197.05 and Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.865, 193.79 and Matt Smith, Victory, DQ;

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FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Steve Torrence, 3.709, 331.53 and Terry McMillen, 4.453, 237.71 def. Kyle Wurtzel, 5.500, 122.46 and Pat Dakin, broke; Doug Kalitta, 3.762, 328.70 and Mike Salinas, 4.087, 222.84 def. Antron Brown, 4.872, 130.04 and Richie Crampton, 10.437, 38.24; Dom Lagana, 3.834, 324.05 and Clay Millican, 4.376, 194.18 def. Tony Schumacher, 4.726, 219.72 and Leah Pritchett, 4.999, 174.77; Shawn Reed, 4.045, 238.60 and Audrey Worm, 4.238, 225.86 def. Brittany Force, 4.473, 264.18 and Scott Palmer, 9.401, 91.73; SEMIFINALS — Kalitta, 3.809, 317.64 and Millican, 3.874, 317.34 def. Lagana, 3.903, 309.13 and Salinas, 4.934, 155.24; McMillen, 3.850, 321.65 and Torrence, 3.873, 286.80 def. Reed, 3.956, 285.47 and Worm, broke; FINAL — Torrence, 3.813, 326.56 def. Kalitta, 4.010, 278.12, McMillen, 4.361, 235.72 and Millican, 5.295, 129.97.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.566, 273.27 and Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.585, 218.16 def. Dale Creasy Jr., Dodge Stratus, 4.703, 174.91 and Jonnie Lindberg, Ford Mustang, 9.074, 77.52; Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.979, 311.41 and John Force, Camaro, 4.307, 283.19 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.686, 199.17 and Jim Campbell, Charger, 5.052, 157.72; Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.156, 243.55 and Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.374, 215.00 def. John Smith, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.315, 256.84 and Matt Hagan, Charger, 5.145, 127.07; J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.031, 305.42 and Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.427, 237.71 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.667, 167.63 and Shawn Langdon, Camry, 14.795, 79.49; SEMIFINALS — Pedregon, 4.055, 309.20 and Johnson Jr., 4.007, 314.02 def. Hight, 4.610, 192.49 and Capps, 5.233, 140.44; J. Force, 4.108, 299.66 and C. Force, 4.115, 255.68 def. Todd, 4.435, 245.94 and Beckman, 4.717, 204.79; FINAL — Pedregon, 4.059, 310.84 def. J. Force, 4.098, 307.93, Johnson Jr., 4.143, 275.39 and C. Force, 6.215, 114.46.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Alex Laughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.548, 211.96 and Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.544, 212.33 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 7.149, 154.16 and Deric Kramer, Camaro, 7.957, 103.40; Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.515, 212.66 and Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.513, 212.16 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 7.283, 150.06 and Matt Hartford, Camaro, 10.321, 89.57; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.534, 211.30 and Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.540, 212.03 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.541, 212.93 and Kenny Delco, Camaro, 15.879, 52.83; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.500, 212.56 and Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.524, 212.03 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.539, 211.46 and Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.639, 209.23; SEMIFINALS — McGaha, 6.545, 211.63 and Nobile, 6.540, 211.93 def. Coughlin, 6.547, 211.76 and Gray, 6.546, 212.06; Enders, 6.517, 212.86 and Skillman, 6.526, 212.79 def. Butner, 6.552, 211.49 and Laughlin, 6.535, 211.96; FINAL — Enders, 6.535, 212.73 def. Nobile, 6.520, 212.69, McGaha, 8.237, 118.82 and Skillman, 18.515, 43.69.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Andrew Hines, Harley Street Rod, 6.843, 195.03 and Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.847, 194.66 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki TL1000, 6.924, 191.48 and Hector Arana, EBR, 16.364, 27.42; Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki GSXR, 6.822, 193.88 and Matt Smith, Victory, 6.893, 194.69 def. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.907, 193.79 and Steve Johnson, TL1000, 6.924, 195.25; LE Tonglet, 6.854, 195.59 and Jerry Savoie, TL, 6.857, 191.95 def. Jim Underdahl, GSXR, 7.111, 176.95 and Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 9.362, 92.90; Cory Reed, Buell, 6.819, 194.66 and Ryan Oehler, Buell XB9R, 6.896, 194.88 def. Joey Gladstone, GSXR, 6.946, 187.11 and Eddie Krawiec, Street Rod, 6.881, 197.45; SEMIFINALS — Savoie, 6.765, 195.73 and Hines, 6.800, 197.94 def. Tonglet, 6.839, 196.02 and Sampey, 13.129, 57.27; Pollacheck, 6.844, 194.21 and M. Smith, 6.883, 194.24 def. Oehler, 6.930, 193.68 and Reed, 6.947, 194.16; FINAL — Savoie, 6.784, 195.73 def. Hines, 6.873, 197.05, Pollacheck, 6.865, 193.79 and M. Smith, DQ.

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UPDATED POINT STANDINGS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 503; 2. Tony Schumacher, 426; 3. Doug Kalitta, 401; 4. Clay Millican, 384; 5. Antron Brown, 362; 6. Leah Pritchett, 315; 7. Brittany Force, 311; 8. Terry McMillen, 305; 9. Richie Crampton, 263; 10. Scott Palmer, 249.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Jack Beckman, 466; 2. Courtney Force, 425; 3. J.R. Todd, 403; 4. Matt Hagan, 395; 5. Robert Hight, 381; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., 376; 7. Ron Capps, 352; 8. Cruz Pedregon, 274; 9. Shawn Langdon, 269; 10. Jonnie Lindberg, 256.

PRO STOCK: 1. Bo Butner, 434; 2. Vincent Nobile, 417; 3. Erica Enders, 406; 4. Chris McGaha, 403; 5. Greg Anderson, 377; 6. Drew Skillman, 362; 7. Deric Kramer, 359; 8. Tanner Gray, 340; 9. Jason Line, 335; 10. Alex Laughlin, 316.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines, 204; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 166; 3. Scotty Pollacheck, 154; 4. Jerry Savoie, 148; 5. Cory Reed, 107; 6. (tie) Hector Arana, 105; Angelle Sampey, 105; 8. LE Tonglet, 95; 9. Steve Johnson, 88; 10. (tie) Ryan Oehler, 83; Karen Stoffer, 83.

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Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”