NHRA Atlanta winners: Steve Torrence, Ron Capps, Andrew Hines

Photos/videos courtesy of NHRA (Atlanta winners (from left) Ron Capps, Andrew Hines, Steve Torrence
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Defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence earned his second straight win in Sunday’s finals of the Arby’s Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia.

Also capturing wins were Ron Capps in Funny Car and Andrew Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle. The Pro Stock class did not compete in this event.

Here’s how things played out in the seventh race of the 24-race NHRA Mello Yellow Drag Racing Series:

IN TOP FUEL: Torrence, who earned his first career Top Fuel at Atlanta Dragway in 2012, felt right at home again on Sunday, covering the drag strip with a pass of 3.863 seconds at 320.20 mph, defeating Brittany Force (3.989 seconds at 274.00 mph).

The final round matchup featured the top two qualifiers of the weekend and the two most recent Top Fuel world champs (Force in 2017, Torrence in 2018).

It also was the 29th career win for the Top Fuel points leader and third at the track.

When you have a group of guys that sticks together and that continuity is there, that’s the reason for success,” Torrence said in an NHRA media release. “As a driver, I need to do my job and give them the best driving ability I possible can because they’re giving me the best race car they possibly can.

My guys are second to none and I would put them up against anybody out here. We went down the track every time we needed to and we’ve had a really good car. It’s really cool to have Arby’s out here and be the first guy to ever win the Arby’s Southern Nationals.”

IN FUNNY CAR: Capps, the 2017 Funny Car champion, earned his first win of the 2019 season with a run of 4.068 seconds at 315.34.

Capps earned the win by getting a great jump on final round opponent Tim Wilkerson, who ran a close race but couldn’t top Capps.

Wilkerson’s run was 4.052 seconds at 310.05 mph.

It was Capps’ third career win at Atlanta and his 62nd overall career win in a Funny car, extending a streak to 11 straight seasons with at least one win.

An average race car driver could have probably won in that car today,” Capps said. “This was a car you dream about driving. (Crew chief) Rahn Tobler pulled out the vintage Rahn Tobler, and that just gave me more and more confidence. It was just amazing and to get a (Dodge) Hellcat win was huge.”

IN PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: Just like Torrence, Andrew Hines earned his second straight win of the season, his third victory overall (in four races) in 2019 and his 51st career triumph on his Harley-Davidson two-wheeler.

Hines (6.865 seconds at 195.05 mph) defeated Jerry Savoie in the final round.

It also was the 100th career win for Harley-Davidson in the class, a streak that began back in 2004 when Hines earned his first career PSM event in 2004.

It was a good day and my motorcycle is nothing like I’ve ever had in my career,” said Hines, who now has three wins at Atlanta Dragway. “It’s working really well and doesn’t do much wrong. All in all, it was a fantastic day.

To get 100 wins for Harley-Davidson, it’s monumental. It was a very big struggle at first, and there’s been trials and tribulations, but it’s really nice to get the 100th.”

The series takes next weekend off before returning to action May 17-19 at the Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park in Richmond, Va.

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FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence; 2. Brittany Force; 3. Shawn Reed; 4. Jordan Vandergriff; 5. Antron Brown; 6. Leah Pritchett; 7. Dom Lagana; 8. Scott Palmer; 9. Clay Millican; 10. Austin Prock; 11. Luigi Novelli; 12. Audrey Worm; 13. Doug Kalitta; 14. Richie Crampton; 15. Pat Dakin; 16. Cameron Ferre.

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

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

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FINAL ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: Steve Torrence, 3.863 seconds, 320.20 mph def. Brittany Force, 3.989 seconds, 274.00 mph.

FUNNY CAR: Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.068, 315.34 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.052, 310.05.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.865, 195.05 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.919, 193.65.

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FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Jordan Vandergriff, 3.817, 286.80 def. Pat Dakin, Foul – Red Light; Antron Brown, 3.771, 323.89 def. Clay Millican, 3.779, 320.89; Brittany Force, 3.887, 316.08 def. Cameron Ferre, 12.284, 61.95; Shawn Reed, 3.856, 320.13 def. Doug Kalitta, 4.208, 254.18; Dom Lagana, 3.819, 319.98 def. Austin Prock, 3.849, 321.42; Steve Torrence, 3.782, 319.60 def. Luigi Novelli, 3.940, 274.66; Leah Pritchett, 3.812, 317.79 def. Audrey Worm, 4.008, 289.88; Scott Palmer, 3.971, 265.85 def. Richie Crampton, 4.431, 180.60; QUARTERFINALS — Reed, 4.232, 265.74 def. Lagana, 7.933, 83.31; Vandergriff, 3.871, 313.15 def. Pritchett, 3.898, 306.95; Torrence, 4.043, 263.41 def. Palmer, 8.919, 86.97; Force, 3.843, 314.83 def. Brown, 3.888, 299.33; SEMIFINALS — Torrence, 3.876, 318.17 def. Reed, 3.864, 315.78; Force, 3.893, 309.20 def. Vandergriff, 4.630, 165.05; FINAL — Torrence, 3.863, 320.20 def. Force, 3.989, 274.00.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.963, 321.12 def. Cruz Pedregon, Dodge Charger, 5.753, 121.59; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.942, 310.91 def. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 5.681, 122.10; J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 4.696, 172.94 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, Foul – Red Light; John Force, Camaro, 3.994, 327.74 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.040, 312.78; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.020, 314.97 def. Dave Richards, Mustang, 4.406, 231.44; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.076, 315.78 def. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.414, 202.09; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.037, 309.84 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.113, 287.35; Paul Lee, Camry, 6.348, 102.03 def. Blake Alexander, Mustang, Broke; QUARTERFINALS — Wilkerson, 5.595, 231.79 def. Tasca III, 6.885, 128.97; Hight, 4.376, 279.90 def. Lee, 4.967, 169.61; Capps, 4.022, 317.57 def. Force, 4.312, 220.80; Johnson Jr., 4.334, 218.62 def. Todd, 10.638, 76.09; SEMIFINALS — Wilkerson, 4.084, 313.66 def. Hight, 4.182, 258.02; Capps, 4.071, 317.19 def. Johnson Jr., 4.091, 310.27; FINAL — Capps, 4.068, 315.34 def. Wilkerson, 4.052, 310.05.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 9.709, 87.09 def. Matt Smith, Foul – Red Light; Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.916, 192.38 def. Cory Reed, 7.018, 191.00; Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.927, 195.59 def. Joey Gladstone, 6.953, 192.08; Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 7.129, 157.45 def. Hector Arana, Foul – Red Light; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.958, 190.00 def. Angie Smith, 6.987, 192.28; Hector Arana Jr, 6.974, 192.88 def. Scotty Pollacheck, 7.028, 189.76; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.917, 195.53 def. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.068, 190.11; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.872, 194.80 def. Melissa Surber, Buell, 7.011, 189.82; QUARTERFINALS — Arana Jr, 6.919, 194.49 def. Sampey, 7.264, 145.42; Savoie, 6.938, 187.96 def. Johnson, 6.918, 192.25; Krawiec, 6.901, 195.22 def. Stoffer, Foul – Red Light; Hines, 6.881, 194.41 def. Oehler, 6.957, 194.80; SEMIFINALS — Savoie, 6.951, 192.77 def. Krawiec, 6.930, 194.07; Hines, 6.897, 193.99 def. Arana Jr, 6.913, 192.77; FINAL — Hines, 6.865, 195.05 def. Savoie, 6.919, 193.65.

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UPDATED POINT STANDINGS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 579; 2. Brittany Force, 483; 3. Doug Kalitta, 464; 4. Leah Pritchett, 433; 5. Clay Millican, 427; 6. Mike Salinas, 384; 7. Antron Brown, 373; 8. Richie Crampton, 329; 9. Terry McMillen, 319; 10. Austin Prock, 288.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, 663; 2. Matt Hagan, 472; 3. John Force, 470; 4. J.R. Todd, 456; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., 445; 6. Tim Wilkerson, 436; 7. Ron Capps, 430; 8. Jack Beckman, 425; 9. Shawn Langdon, 365; 10. Bob Tasca III, 338.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines, 444; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 366; 3. Hector Arana Jr, 356; 4. Matt Smith, 237; 5. Jerry Savoie, 233; 6. Ryan Oehler, 211; 7. Karen Stoffer, 204; 8. Joey Gladstone, 170; 9. Hector Arana, 169; 10. Angie Smith, 168.

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Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.