NHRA Virginia: Butner, S. Torrence, Hines, Capps continue winning ways

NHRA Virginia winners from left: Torrence, Capps, Hines, Butner.
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Bo Butner had decided to retire from Pro Stock racing at the end of last season, with plans of going back to his sportsman rank roots. There’d be less pressure, less travel and more enjoyment.

But after a couple of weeks of thinking about it – and being coerced by friends and family – the 2017 Pro Stock champ decided to reconsider and returned to the Pro Stock ranks for 2019.

It’s a decision he likely will forever be grateful for making.

Butner continued his dominance in Pro Stock in 2019, earning his fourth win of the season in Sunday’s finals of the Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie, Va.

Joining Butner in the winner’s circle was Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Butner covered the quarter-mile in 6.599 seconds at 209.01 mph, defeating teammate and four-time Pro Stock champ Greg Anderson (6.607 seconds, 210.18 mph) to capture his 11th career national event victory.

Butner becomes the first driver since Anderson in 2004 that won four of the first five Pro Stock races to start a season.

It’s been an amazing season and a good call to come back,” Butner said in a NHRA media release. “We made a very good run in the final.

Greg and I both made mediocre runs up until that point. The track was great. It’s very smooth and the Franklins did a great job with this place and it would be nice if we came back here a couple of times. It was fun running two cars multiple rounds today. It was a good day and I can’t complain.”

Butner defeated Wally Stroupe, Chris McGaha and Jeg Coughlin Jr. on his way to his 24th career final round.

IN TOP FUEL: Torrence earned his fourth win of the season and 30th of his career with a winning run of 3.881 seconds at 319.82 mph, defeating best friend Antron Brown (3.899 seconds at 309.49 mph).

It was the 10th time the pair have met in a final round. Brown won the first five meetings, while Torrence has won the last five times they’ve met.

Torrence reached the final round after earlier round wins over Todd Paton, Scott Palmer, and father Billy Torrence en route to his 45th career final round.

Hands down and hats off to the whole Capco team,” Steve Torrence said. “Those guys gave me the best race car of the day. We were the guys that went down the track four times in a row.

All I had to do was not run over anything or anybody and they gave me the best car ever. Richard Hogan (co-crew chief) and Bobby Lagana (co-crew chief), they make the right calls when the pressure is on and when the heat is out there. In cowboy terms, I rode the two best horses out there.”

Brown, meanwhile, defeated teammate Leah Pritchett, Brittany Force and Mike Salinas before falling to Torrence in the final round.

IN FUNNY CAR: Capps won his second consecutive race, defeating defending Funny Car world champ J.R. Todd in the final round.

The win is Capps’ 62nd career Funny Car victory (and 63rd overall of his career), along with being the 30th win of his tenure with crew chief Rahn Tobler since 2012.

Capps defeated Jim Campbell, Robert Hight and teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. to reach the final round, earning his first career win at VMP.

Just go up there and not make a mistake was my mindset today,” Capps said. “Tobler told me in the trailer prior to the final round, ‘I don’t know why it smoked the tires all day. Everybody has had problems and we’re just going to put it like we did first round when it went 3.99.’

I rolled it in there and obviously it went a bit slower but that’s what he went up there to do. Vintage Rahn Tobler.”

Todd beat Bob Tasca III, teammate Shawn Langdon and Jonnie Lindberg to reach the finals.

IN PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: Hines won from the No. 1 qualifier position, earning his third straight win of the season, fourth overall of 2019 and 52nd of his career.

He covered the quarter-mile in 6.845 seconds at 195.68 mph, defeating teammate Eddie Krawiec in the final round.

Andrew Hines becomes the first PSM rider to win four of the first five events to start a season since brother Matt did so to kick off the 1998 season.

We have developed a very good hot weather tune up for our Street Rods and that’s saying a lot,” Hines said. “We typically tend to not look forward to the middle of the season because that’s where our performance tends to fall off and people make up ground on us.

Today we were able to take what we’ve learned the last couple of weeks between Charlotte, when it got hot, and Atlanta when it was really hot. We don’t ever go up there (the starting line) with the same tune up, ever. It was a little bit of picking on it here and there which has led to us finding the window where we need to be.”

Hines remains atop the PSM point standings, defeating Jiana Salinas, Ryan Oehler and defending world champion Matt Smith to reach the final round. Krawiec took down Kelly Clontz, Karen Stoffer and Hector Arana Jr. en route to his 25th final round against Hines.

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will have the Memorial Day weekend off before returning to action in Joliet, Illinois, May 30th to June 2nd in the Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway. It will be the ninth race of the 24-race season for both Top Fuel and Funny Car, and the sixth race of the season for PSM and Pro Stock.

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FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence; 2. Antron Brown; 3. Billy Torrence; 4. Mike Salinas; 5. Scott Palmer; 6. Clay Millican; 7. Austin Prock; 8. Brittany Force; 9. Richie Crampton; 10. Todd Paton; 11. Cameron Ferre; 12. Dan Mercier; 13. Audrey Worm; 14. Terry McMillen; 15. Leah Pritchett; 16. Doug Kalitta.

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

PRO STOCK: 1. Bo Butner; 2. Greg Anderson; 3. Jeg Coughlin; 4. Alex Laughlin; 5. Chris McGaha; 6. Erica Enders; 7. Jason Line; 8. Fernando Cuadra Jr.; 9. Fernando Cuadra; 10. Rodger Brogdon; 11. Matt Hartford; 12. Val Smeland; 13. Wally Stroupe; 14. Shane Tucker; 15. Kenny Delco; 16. Deric Kramer.

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

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FINAL RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: Steve Torrence, 3.881 seconds, 319.82 mph def. Antron Brown, 3.899 seconds, 309.49 mph.

FUNNY CAR: Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.097, 310.98 def. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, Broke.

PRO STOCK: Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 6.599, 209.01 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.607, 210.18.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.845, 195.68 def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.858, 196.44.

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FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Antron Brown, 3.872, 312.42 def. Leah Pritchett, 5.388, 139.06; Scott Palmer, 3.869, 322.58 def. Doug Kalitta, 5.568, 119.26; Clay Millican, 3.814, 320.97 def. Dan Mercier, 4.525, 183.49; Mike Salinas, 3.813, 319.60 def. Cameron Ferre, 4.466, 215.20; Brittany Force, 4.321, 241.89 def. Audrey Worm, 4.561, 181.54; Steve Torrence, 3.845, 321.73 def. Todd Paton, 3.969, 306.33; Austin Prock, 3.866, 304.94 def. Richie Crampton, 3.901, 313.51; Billy Torrence, 3.983, 282.48 def. Terry McMillen, 4.778, 164.11; QUARTERFINALS — Brown, 4.446, 231.00 def. Force, 4.659, 234.53; B. Torrence, 3.912, 305.49 def. Millican, 4.205, 227.11; Salinas, 3.831, 321.50 def. Prock, 4.294, 228.61; S. Torrence, 3.870, 319.14 def. Palmer, 3.910, 318.69; SEMIFINALS — S. Torrence, 3.853, 316.23 def. B. Torrence, 4.114, 238.26; Brown, 4.846, 160.44 def. Salinas, 11.990, 33.39; FINAL — S. Torrence, 3.881, 319.82 def. Brown, 3.899, 309.49.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.013, 316.97 def. Cruz Pedregon, Dodge Charger, 4.057, 304.74; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.997, 313.58 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 6.497, 99.14; John Force, Camaro, 4.004, 317.64 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Camry, 11.009, 80.03; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.027, 316.52 def. Terry Haddock, Ford Mustang, 4.132, 296.24; J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.074, 306.95 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.086, 313.80; Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.039, 310.27 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.054, 307.02; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.649, 251.44 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 5.115, 225.41; Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 4.088, 314.39 def. Blake Alexander, Mustang, Foul – Centerline; QUARTERFINALS — Lindberg, 4.157, 269.94 def. Force, 10.790, 77.43; Capps, 6.173, 251.11 def. Hight, 6.204, 270.75; Johnson Jr., 5.356, 212.03 def. Beckman, 8.238, 102.56; Todd, 4.044, 310.41 def. Langdon, 4.081, 312.35; SEMIFINALS — Capps, 4.212, 301.94 def. Johnson Jr., 10.184, 90.53; Todd, 4.040, 313.88 def. Lindberg, 5.543, 133.55; FINAL — Capps, 4.097, 310.98 def. Todd, Broke.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Alex Laughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.626, 207.11 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.619, 207.94; Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.612, 205.72 def. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.607, 208.65; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.607, 208.75 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.642, 207.94; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.610, 209.43 def. Shane Tucker, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Fernando Cuadra Jr., Camaro, 6.838, 197.88 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 15.360, 55.41; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.622, 209.72 def. Wally Stroupe, Camaro, 6.781, 203.43; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.615, 209.43 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.733, 205.94; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.630, 207.24 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 9.338, 99.16; QUARTERFINALS — Laughlin, 6.641, 207.59 def. Line, 6.685, 208.20; Coughlin, 6.628, 207.34 def. Cuadra Jr., 6.858, 200.80; Anderson, 6.629, 209.49 def. Enders, 6.668, 206.95; Butner, 6.625, 208.59 def. McGaha, 6.618, 208.84; SEMIFINALS — Anderson, 6.609, 209.52 def. Laughlin, 6.670, 207.40; Butner, 6.602, 208.78 def. Coughlin, 6.629, 207.66; FINAL — Butner, 6.599, 209.01 def. Anderson, 6.607, 210.18.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.927, 195.36 def. Angie Smith, 6.944, 195.68; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.954, 194.27 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.962, 192.03; Joey Gladstone, 7.006, 191.51 def. Hector Arana, 6.979, 194.30; Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 6.855, 195.56 def. John Hall, Suzuki, 6.956, 193.88; Matt Smith, 6.813, 198.64 def. Scotty Pollacheck, 7.024, 191.65; Hector Arana Jr, 6.909, 197.05 def. Cory Reed, 7.108, 187.78; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.855, 196.82 def. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.021, 191.95; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.853, 196.87 def. Jianna Salinas, Suzuki, 7.065, 188.23; QUARTERFINALS — Arana Jr, 6.884, 194.83 def. Gladstone, Broke; Krawiec, 6.853, 196.44 def. Stoffer, 6.963, 193.46; Hines, 6.871, 195.90 def. Oehler, 6.971, 194.66; M. Smith, 6.836, 198.50 def. Sampey, 6.889, 193.46; SEMIFINALS — Krawiec, 6.863, 196.56 def. Arana Jr, 6.902, 195.39; Hines, 6.837, 196.62 def. M. Smith, 6.856, 196.67; FINAL — Hines, 6.845, 195.68 def. Krawiec, 6.858, 196.44.

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UPDATED POINT STANDINGS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 701; 2. Brittany Force, 541; 3. Doug Kalitta, 498; 4. Clay Millican, 489; 5. Leah Pritchett, 469; 6. Antron Brown, 467; 7. Mike Salinas, 466; 8. Richie Crampton, 363; 9. Terry McMillen, 352; 10. Austin Prock, 341.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, 717; 2. J.R. Todd, 556; 3. Ron Capps, 548; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., 527; 5. John Force, 524; 6. Matt Hagan, 506; 7. Jack Beckman, 477; 8. Tim Wilkerson, 463; 9. Shawn Langdon, 404; 10. Bob Tasca III, 369.

PRO STOCK: 1. Bo Butner, 545; 2. Alex Laughlin, 358; 3. Jason Line, 328; 4. Matt Hartford, 318; 5. Greg Anderson, 305; 6. Jeg Coughlin, 298; 7. Erica Enders, 297; 8. Rodger Brogdon, 254; 9. Chris McGaha, 241; 10. Deric Kramer, 239.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines, 569; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 468; 3. Hector Arana Jr, 435; 4. Matt Smith, 318; 5. Ryan Oehler, 263; 6. Karen Stoffer, 257; 7. Jerry Savoie, 233; 8. Joey Gladstone, 222; 9. Angelle Sampey, 210; 10. Hector Arana, 203.

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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.”