NHRA Virginia winners from left: Torrence, Capps, Hines, Butner.

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

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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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Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

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Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.

If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”

The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.

“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”

Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.

Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.

“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.

“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:

–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;

–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”

–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.

“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).