NHRA Texas winners: Steve Torrence, Robert Hight, Tanner Gray, LE Tonglet

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The six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs is turning into an instant replay of sorts.

In the finals of Sunday’s AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals, Texas native Steve Torrence continued his torrid run, capturing his third straight Countdown win – and eighth overall in the first 21 races of the 24-race season – at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas, south of Dallas.

It was the first time Torrence – who is chasing his first-ever Top Fuel championship – has ever won a Top Fuel race at his home track.

But Torrence was just part of the instant replay. Robert Hight, fresh off surgery to repair a broken collarbone suffered in the previous race two weeks ago, won his second straight race of the Countdown and extended his lead in the Funny Car point standings.

Hight is going for his second consecutive Funny Car championship and the third of his career. In addition, no driver has won back-to-back Funny Car titles since his boss, John Force, did so in 2001 and 2002.

And Pro Stock points leader Tanner Gray earned his second straight Countdown win, while L.E. Tonglet won in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Sunday’s NHRA winners at Texas Motorplex: From left: LE Tonglet, Tanner Gray, Steve Torrence and Robert Hight.

In Top Fuel: Torrence made a pass of 3.786 seconds at 325.92 mph, defeating Terry McMillen (3.826 seconds at 321.04 mph) in the final round to capture the 24th victory of his Top Fuel career.

Torrence now owns a 103-point lead over Clay McMillan, who qualified No. 1 for this weekend’s race, in the Top Fuel standings with three races remaining.

“We were just here to go rounds,” Torrence said after claiming the “Wally” winner’s trophy. “I don’t have a Top Fuel championship. I have a Top Alcohol championship and the year that I won that I won at Dallas.

“We’ve been trying to get it done here since 2010. This is a check off my bucket list to be able to come to Dallas and win. I couldn’t be prouder to pull off a victory in front of everyone that was here this weekend.”

Torrence rolled past Bill Litton, Blake Alexander and eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher in the first three rounds of eliminations en route to his final round match with McMillen.

McMillen, meanwhile, reached the final round match with Torrence by defeating, in order, Mike Salinas, defending world champ Brittany Force and Millican before facing McMillen.

In Funny Car: Hight is still sore from the broken collarbone he suffered when the engine in his car exploded and he hit the retaining wall hard two weeks ago in the final round of the NHRA event at Gateway Motorsports Park in suburban St. Louis. But he didn’t let the pain stop him from winning at Texas for the second straight year and the fourth time of his career at the Motorplex.

Hight rolled to a 3.955 second, 325.69 mph victory over J.R. Todd (3.984 seconds at 319.52 mph). It’s Hight’s 45th career Funny Car win.

Hight, who underwent surgery 3 days after the Gateway crash and was only medically cleared to race this past Thursday, now holds a 50-point lead in the standings over Todd.

“This AAA team was just flawless,” Hight said. “We just got better all weekend as we went. I promise you that we will celebrate tonight because we’re going to make up for the last one.

“That was one of the biggest rounds I’ve ever raced right there. J.R. Todd is No. 2 in points, he was 30 behind me going into the final and had I lost I’d be 10 ahead; which isn’t much. Luckily we get to do it again next week.”

Hight will go for his third straight win in the Countdown this coming weekend in suburban Charlotte, North Carolina.

Hight rolled through Jim Campbell, Tim Wilkerson and Bob Tasca III en route to his 71st career final round appearance, vs. Todd.

Todd, meanwhile, beat John Hale, Jack Beckman and No. 1 qualifier Tommy Johnson Jr. on his way to his second final round of the Countdown.

In Pro Stock: Gray (6.622 seconds at 207.62 mph), knocked off No. 1 qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr. (6.636 seconds at 207.82 mph) in the final round to earn the event win.

Gray rolled past Deric Kramer, Greg Anderson and Matt Hartford to earn his seventh win of the season and 12th of his career.

“We’ve been struggling with qualifying it seems like,” Gray said. “Really, for whatever reason, we’ve been able to pull it out on Sunday.

“Some of it being luck, while others it’s just making good runs and beating the other guy in the lane. It’s awesome to have the group of guys that I have around me.”

Gray is bidding to become the youngest-ever champion in NHRA history this season.

Coughlin Jr., a five-time world champion, defeated Val Smeland, Drew Skillman and Vincent Nobile to climb to the No. 3 spot in the points.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle: Tonglet rolled to his fourth win of 2018 and the 20th of his career.

Tonglet (6.892 seconds at 194.80 mph) defeated his boss, team owner Jerry Savoie (6.907 seconds at 193.88 mph) in Sunday’s final round.

By doing so, Tonglet – who rolled past Andrew Hines, Angelle Sampey and defending world champ and No. 1 qualifier this weekend, Eddie Krawiec – moved pass Matt Smith to take the lead in the PSM standings.

“It was fun in the pit while we were trying to get the bikes cooled off (after semi-finals),” Tonglet said of himself and Savoie. “Once we came up to the start line though I didn’t even look at him and he didn’t look at me. It was just all business.

“We’re leading the points now though and we’re not going to look back.”

The next event – the 22nd of the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series – is this coming weekend (Oct. 12-14), the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina.

Here’s all the final statistics of Sunday’s eliminations:

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FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence; 2. Terry McMillen; 3. Clay Millican; 4. Tony Schumacher; 5. Blake Alexander; 6. Antron Brown; 7. Leah Pritchett; 8. Brittany Force; 9. Richie Crampton; 10. Mike Salinas; 11. Doug Kalitta; 12. Scott Palmer; 13. Shawn Reed; 14. Kebin Kinsley; 15. Billy Torrence; 16. Bill Litton.

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

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

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

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FINAL RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: Steve Torrence, 3.786 seconds, 325.92 mph def. Terry McMillen, 3.826 seconds, 321.04 mph.

FUNNY CAR: Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.955, 325.69 def. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.984, 319.52.

PRO STOCK: Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.622, 207.62 def. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.636, 207.82.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.892, 194.80 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.907, 193.88.

**********************

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Blake Alexander, 3.758, 325.61 def. Billy Torrence, 4.604, 166.89; Antron Brown, 3.777, 323.43 def. Doug Kalitta, 3.830, 316.82; Brittany Force, 3.762, 330.07 def. Scott Palmer, 3.839, 323.97; Clay Millican, 3.744, 328.54 def. Richie Crampton, 3.784, 314.83; Steve Torrence, 3.764, 327.43 def. Bill Litton, 8.518, 63.50; Tony Schumacher, 3.747, 325.69 def. Shawn Reed, 3.900, 322.34; Terry McMillen, 3.800, 321.19 def. Mike Salinas, 3.807, 324.36; Leah Pritchett, 3.831, 324.20 def. Kebin Kinsley, 4.548, 172.45; QUARTERFINALS — S. Torrence, 3.800, 323.35 def. Alexander, 4.049, 232.91; McMillen, 3.819, 320.81 def. Force, 4.334, 227.69; Schumacher, 3.817, 323.89 def. Brown, 4.151, 241.15; Millican, 3.783, 321.50 def. Pritchett, 4.228, 201.91; SEMIFINALS — S. Torrence, 3.779, 321.73 def. Schumacher, 4.917, 166.64; McMillen, 3.816, 324.20 def. Millican, 3.855, 289.76; FINAL — S. Torrence, 3.786, 325.92 def. McMillen, 3.826, 321.04.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.998, 319.37 def. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.058, 317.12; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.981, 324.44 def. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 5.079, 150.15; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.007, 314.09 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Camry, 6.399, 103.46; J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.982, 321.35 def. John Hale, Chevy Impala, 5.554, 129.49; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.969, 317.27 def. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.985, 318.17; Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.942, 320.05 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 6.521, 101.08; John Force, Camaro, 3.986, 325.30 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.024, 314.39; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.015, 310.27 def. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.495, 217.60; QUARTERFINALS — Johnson Jr., 3.937, 322.65 def. Pedregon, 4.036, 303.78; Todd, 3.991, 318.69 def. Beckman, 4.055, 260.36; Hight, 3.954, 321.12 def. Wilkerson, 3.990, 319.60; Tasca III, 4.021, 304.39 def. J. Force, 4.000, 325.77; SEMIFINALS — Hight, 3.962, 316.75 def. Tasca III, 4.323, 251.34; Todd, 3.952, 320.89 def. Johnson Jr., 3.964, 321.58; FINAL — Hight, 3.955, 325.69 def. Todd, 3.984, 319.52.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.618, 207.88 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.637, 208.30; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.626, 207.85 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.627, 207.66; Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.633, 207.08 def. Alex Laughlin, Dodge Dart, 6.617, 206.23; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.606, 207.59 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.631, 208.07; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.607, 207.56 def. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.648, 207.72; Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.642, 206.39 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.601, 207.56; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.621, 208.36 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.659, 206.51; Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.624, 207.59 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.754, 205.57; QUARTERFINALS — Hartford, 6.631, 206.95 def. Delco, 6.683, 206.64; Gray, 6.636, 207.72 def. Anderson, 6.636, 208.10; Coughlin, 6.616, 208.39 def. Skillman, Foul – Red Light; Nobile, 6.630, 207.75 def. Enders, 6.635, 207.53; SEMIFINALS — Gray, 9.699, 94.96 def. Hartford, Foul – Red Light; Coughlin, 6.619, 208.17 def. Nobile, 6.634, 207.15; FINAL — Gray, 6.622, 207.62 def. Coughlin, 6.636, 207.82.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.944, 193.52 def. Joey Gladstone, Buell, 7.025, 191.13; Angie Smith, Buell, 6.937, 191.67 def. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 7.021, 191.70; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.896, 195.36 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.138, 193.35; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.972, 192.11 def. Hector Arana, Foul – Red Light; Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.915, 194.38 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, Broke; Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.194, 189.47 def. Hector Arana Jr, 11.191, 73.65; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.890, 196.10 def. Anthony Vanetti, Buell, 7.147, 178.52; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.045, 189.31 def. Matt Smith, 6.960, 195.14; QUARTERFINALS — Johnson, 6.942, 191.78 def. Clontz, 7.122, 188.67; Savoie, 7.011, 191.16 def. Stoffer, Foul – Red Light; Tonglet, 6.903, 195.39 def. Sampey, 6.968, 193.49; Krawiec, 6.915, 195.31 def. A. Smith, 8.826, 99.73; SEMIFINALS — Savoie, 6.927, 190.75 def. Johnson, 7.006, 189.95; Tonglet, 6.886, 194.86 def. Krawiec, 6.945, 194.97; FINAL — Tonglet, 6.892, 194.80 def. Savoie, 6.907, 193.88.

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UPDATED POINT STANDINGS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 2,468; 2. Clay Millican, 2,365; 3. Tony Schumacher, 2,303; 4. Leah Pritchett, 2,244; 5. Antron Brown, 2,221; 6. Terry McMillen, 2,189; 7. Doug Kalitta, 2,169; 8. Mike Salinas, 2,150; 9. Brittany Force, 2,140; 10. Scott Palmer, 2,117.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, 2,387; 2. J.R. Todd, 2,337; 3. Tim Wilkerson, 2,254; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,251; 5. Courtney Force, 2,232; 6. Ron Capps, 2,215; 7. Matt Hagan, 2,175; 8. Jack Beckman, 2,172; 9. John Force, 2,168; 10. Shawn Langdon, 2,120.

PRO STOCK: 1. Tanner Gray, 2,409; 2. Vincent Nobile, 2,320; 3. Jeg Coughlin, 2,319; 4. Drew Skillman, 2,275; 5. Greg Anderson, 2,266; 6. Erica Enders, 2,251; 7. Jason Line, 2,175; 8. Bo Butner, 2,154; 9. Deric Kramer, 2,136; 10. Chris McGaha, 2,096.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. LE Tonglet, 2,356; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 2,309; 3. Matt Smith, 2,308; 4. Hector Arana Jr, 2,253; 5. Jerry Savoie, 2,247; 6. Andrew Hines, 2,233; 7. Steve Johnson, 2,183; 8. Angie Smith, 2,168; 9. Angelle Sampey, 2,143; 10. Scotty Pollacheck, 2,125.

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2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Anaheim 2: Ken Roczen is consistency’s king

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Strength is found not only in outright wins, but also through consistency, which contributed to the rise of Ken Roczen in the SuperMotocross Rankings after Anaheim 2.

Roczen ended the 2022 Supercross season with the knowledge that he urgently needed change, so he declared himself a free agent, signed with Suzuki during the offseason and set upon 2023 with renewed determination. It worked. Roczen is one of three riders in the 450 class with a sweep of the top five and that consistency has given him the lead in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings.

SuperMotocross Rankings Anaheim 2
Like Babe Ruth pointing to the outfield wall, Ken Roczen pointed his way to the Power Rankings lead. – Feld Motor Sports

This formula rewards riders who compete at the front of the pack at the end of the Mains, in their heats, or in last week’s case, the three motos that make up the Triple Crown. Roczen has improved his overall performance each week with a fifth in Anaheim 1, a fourth in San Diego and his first podium of 2023 in Anaheim 2. Can he keep the trend alive with a first- or second-place finish in Houston?

A fall is all it takes sometimes. Last week, Eli Tomac tumbled hard when he pushed wide on the exit of a turn and jumped on top of a Tuff Blox. He remounted after that incident in Race 3 of the Triple Crown, but could only manage a 13th-place result in the moto. It could have been much worse and resulted in an injury, but coupled with a sixth in the overall standings at Anaheim 2, it pushed him down a spot in the SuperMotocross Ranking.

Along with Roczen (and Chase Sexton), Cooper Webb swept the top five in Supercross’ first three rounds. He is knocking on the door of a win and it won’t take long for him to ascend to the top of the box. Webb has two victories in Houston and each of them came during a championship season.

If there is a more determined rider than Jason Anderson, get out of his way. His path to the front of the pack is not always lined with primroses since he often has to pass multiple riders with whom he has had a run-in during his path, but the SuperMotocross Power Rankings are concerned only with raw results – not intention – and Anaheim 2 was Anderson’s best race of the season. He earned his first top-five and first podium with a second-place finish that was aided by a moto win.

MORE: Triple Crown format shakes up A2’s finishing order

Dylan Ferrandis has also been a model of consistency. Last week his Triple Crown effort of 4-6-5 gave him an overall finish of fifth. That came on the heels of a fourth-place result in the season opener and a sixth in San Diego. With no result worse than sixth this season, the numbers add up quite well.

Sexton’s position just outside the top five this week is entirely attributable to his last-place result in the San Diego heat. The SuperMotocross Rankings looks at the past 45 days, so that will affect him for a while, but if he continues to ride like he did in Anaheim 2, he’s going to climb quickly despite that albatross around his neck.

450 Rankings

This
Week
Driver Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1. Ken Roczen 84.63 3 2
2. Eli Tomac
[2 Main; 2 Heat wins]
83.25 1 -1
3. Cooper Webb 82.25 2 -1
4. Jason Anderson
[1 Heat win]
80.63 5 1
5. Dylan Ferrandis 78.75 4 -1
6. Chase Sexton
[1 Main; 3 Heat wins]
77.75 9 3
7. Justin Barcia 67.88 6 -1
8. Aaron Plessinger 67.63 8 0
9. Adam Cianciarulo 67.25 7 -2
10. Joey Savatgy 61.00 11 1
10. Marvin Musquin 61.00 12 2
12. Malcolm Stewart
[1 Heat win]
58.75 13 1
13. Christian Craig 56.13 14 1
14. Colt Nichols 56.00 10 -4
15. Dean Wilson 47.50 15 0
16. Tristan Lane 41.00 18 2
17. Grant Harlan 40.67 19 2
18. Justin Hill 40.57 16 -2
19. Logan Karnow 36.50 20 1
20. Alex Ray 36.00 21 1

Supercross Points


The 250 West riders get a couple of weeks off before heading to Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 and several of them need the rest. Tough weeks for Cameron McAdoo and RJ Hampshire forced them to lose ground in the SuperMotocross points to Jett Lawrence at a time that could prove to play mental games.

Lawrence also had his share of issues at Anaheim 2, but overcame early falls in the first two motos and finished no worse than sixth. Considering that he dropped to the tail of the field in Race 2, that was a remarkable accomplishment and he entered the final race with a shot at the overall win. He narrowly missed that mark, but still has not finished worse than second in three rounds. His lead in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings is safe.

Cameron McAdoo rode with injury in all three Triple Crown motos, so his sixth-place finish was a moral victory. Cameron McAdoo, Instagram

McAdoo said it best in an Instagram post this week: “Woke up feeling grateful that I’m relatively healthy after my big mistake during qualifying yesterday. We made the decision that it would be safe for me to race so I did everything I possibly could to get through the night ending up [sixth overall]. We will work on getting healed up in these few weeks off to come back strong for Oakland!”

With results of 8-7-5 in the Triple Crown and his combined sixth-place result, McAdoo lost significant ground to Lawrence in both the points’ standings and our Power formula. The Oakland race is going to be critical if he wants to stay in the championship hunt because the series will have a long break before returning in Seattle for Round 11. No one wants to sit with negative feelings for that long.

Mitchell Oldenburg has quietly amassed some impressive numbers. His name has not been called a lot during broadcasts, but he has not finished worse than seventh in any of the first three rounds. Themes develop during a season and weekend – and for the moment, this one revolves around reliability. Oldenburg finished 5-4-6 in Anaheim 2 which means he has consistently amassed SuperMotocross Power Rankings points.

Stilez Robertson won his first race of the season in Moto 2 of the Triple Crown. Coupled with a third-place finish in the final race, he leapfrogged Hampshire and Enzo Lopes, both of whom had disappointing outings. He stands fifth in the points’ standing mostly due to a ninth-place finish in the season opener, but each race has been progressively better and that is a good sign.

Sometimes, all it takes is a taste of success. Prior to Anaheim 2, Levi Kitchen’s best Supercross finish was a seventh earned in this year’s season opener. He scored a ninth at Minneapolis last year, but that was not enough to put him on the radar. This early in the season, one strong run can sway the SuperMotocross Power Ranking significantly, but Robertson has earned his way into the top five. More importantly, he’s going to be the object of interest when the West series returns to Oakland.

Next week the 250 East riders mount up in Houston, Texas before they head to Tampa, Florida. The Power Rankings will combine the two divisions, so the riders below are likely to shift dramatically.

250 Rankings

This
Week
Driver Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1. Jett Lawrence – W
[2 Main; 2 Heat wins]
89.13 1 0
2. Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat Win]
77.63 3 1
3. Mitchell Oldenburg – W 77.00 5 2
4. Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat win]
76.75 6 2
5. Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main win]
73.75 12 7
6. RJ Hampshire – W
[3 Heat wins]
70.00 2 -4
7. Max Vohland – W 69.29 8 1
8. Derek Kelley – W 63.75 10 2
9. Enzo Lopes – W 63.25 4 -5
10. Pierce Brown – W 61.29 13 3
11. Phil Nicoletti – W 59.25 7 -4
12. Dylan Walsh – W 56.00 9 -3
13. Cole Thompson – W 51.00 11 -2
14. Robbie Wageman – W 50.75 15 1
15. Anthony Rodriguez – W 49.00 14 -1
16. Ty Masterpool – W 47.50 16 0
17. Kaeden Amerine – W 47.50 16 -1
18. Dominique Thury – W 47.00 18 0
19. Austin Forkner – W 43.00 20 1
20. Derek Drake – W 42.33 21 1

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Ken Roczen moves up, Chase Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage