Steve Torrence

Photo and videos courtesy NHRA

Ladies Day in Las Vegas: Brittany Force, Enders among NHRA winners

Leave a comment

Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Brittany Force (Top Fuel) not only celebrated the 150th and 151st wins by females in NHRA pro drag racing history Sunday in the Dodge NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas, they also significantly tightened the battle for their respective championships with just one race remaining in the season.

Other winners in the penultimate event of the 24-race Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway were Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Here’s how Sunday’s final rounds in the fifth race of the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs played out:

In Top Fuel: Force, daughter of 16-time Funny Car champion and the winningest driver in NHRA history, John Force, capped off a spectacular weekend that included recording the fastest pass in Top Fuel annals at 338.17 mph during Friday’s qualifying session (she also holds the quickest record in Top Fuel history, as well).

Force (3.652 seconds at 334.73 mph) defeated points leader and defending Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence (3.719 seconds at 330.63 mph) in Sunday’s final round – the 900th Top Fuel race in NHRA history. Force is now just 16 points behind Torrence heading into the season finale November 17 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.

It was Force’s 10th win of her career. She won the Top Fuel championship in 2017 and is seeking her second title in three seasons.

This weekend has been incredible for this team,” Force said. “I’ve always wanted to win here. We set the MPH record here and we’ve accomplished a lot, but what we’re really going after is a championship together. I felt good coming in and we got the job done.

It was pretty cool to (win) 151 and 150 with Erica today. David Grubnic has been awesome to work with and I’m very blessed to have him as my crew chief. I want to go straight to Pomona and I’m going to do everything I can to stay in this thing. I’ll be ready when Pomona gets here. We’ve been there before and we want to do it again with this Advance Auto Parts team.”

In Funny Car: Hagan (3.876 seconds at 331.36 mph) earned his second consecutive win, defeating Jonnie Lindberg (3.945 seconds at 321.12 mph). The win moves Hagan to third in the points, just 56 points behind Funny Car points leader Robert Hight and 10 points behind second-ranked Jack Beckman. It was Hagan’s fourth win of the season and 33rd of his career.

I’m excited and fired up right now,” Hagan said. “When you have that opportunity to come into Pomona still in the championship hunt, that is why we do this. That’s what gets me fired up and motivated.

I’m just so proud of my guys. They’re killing it and they all just rise to occasion. I feed off that and coming into Pomona, I wish it were tomorrow. To come out and turn four win lights on at a Dodge-sponsored race, that’s a fairy tale. It’s hard to win back-to-back races, and it just shows you what we’re capable of. We’re going into Pomona and we’re going to work as hard as we can.”

In Pro Stock: Enders (6.617 seconds at 208.04 mph) closed in on her third Pro Stock championship, earning her second win of the season and 25th of her career, defeating Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. (6.620 seconds at 201.70 mph).

Enders now leads Coughlin by a fairly commanding 92-point edge for the Pro Stock crown. And if past history is any indication, Enders potentially has championship No. 3 all but locked up: her first two championships included wins in the fall race in Las Vegas, as well.

My guys just keep on giving me a really good racecar,” Enders said. “It’s been a great day and to get the 150th (win by a female), I’m just really proud to be part of the group of such smart, strong, talented females out there.

It was definitely taxing (today) and to have an all-Elite final, that was just the icing on the cake. It was huge to win today and we were able to rise to the occasion. We’re going to go out to Pomona to win the race. Anything can happen and I’ve been part of that. Winning in St. Louis and then Las Vegas, it’s not a big enough cushion for me. I’m excited about the opportunity.”

In Pro Stock Motorcycle: Defending champ Matt Smith earned his first win of the playoffs and second overall win of the season (6.855 seconds at 195.90 mph) over Steve Johnson (6.863 seconds at 194.04 mph).

The win elevates Smith to fourth place in the standings, but he still trails points leader Andrew Hines by 117 points heading to Pomona.

It’s not totally and mathematically over yet,” Smith said. “I told everybody we were going to shoot for the moon in the finals, and it stuck. When it stuck, there’s nobody going to catch us when it runs like that. We just pulled it off in the final and did our job.”

Hines leads Jerry Savoie by 115 as he closes in on his sixth world title.

Here are the final statistics from Sunday’s action:

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

FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Brittany Force; 2. Steve Torrence; 3. Billy Torrence; 4. Doug Kalitta; 5. Mike Salinas; 6. Austin Prock; 7. Terry McMillen; 8. Leah Pritchett; 9. Shawn Reed; 10. Clay Millican; 11. Antron Brown; 12. Cameron Ferre; 13. Richie Crampton; 14. Scott Palmer; 15. Pat Dakin; 16. Justin Ashley.

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

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

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

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

FINAL RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: Brittany Force, 3.652 seconds, 334.73 mph def. Steve Torrence, 3.719 seconds, 330.63 mph.

FUNNY CAR: Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.876, 331.36 def. Jonnie Lindberg, Ford Mustang, 3.945, 321.12.

PRO STOCK: Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.617, 208.04 def. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.620, 201.70.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: Matt Smith, EBR, 6.855, 195.90 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.863, 194.04.

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

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Doug Kalitta, 3.722, 324.67 def. Shawn Reed, 3.734, 322.58; Austin Prock, 3.743, 331.04 def. Richie Crampton, 4.497, 195.96; Terry McMillen, 3.736, 326.24 def. Antron Brown, 3.908, 318.69; Leah Pritchett, 3.869, 310.55 def. Cameron Ferre, 3.980, 303.16; Brittany Force, 3.689, 333.16 def. Pat Dakin, 7.786, 74.09; Billy Torrence, 3.708, 329.91 def. Justin Ashley, 10.477, 79.27; Mike Salinas, 3.720, 327.98 def. Clay Millican, Foul – Red Light; Steve Torrence, 3.690, 328.62 def. Scott Palmer, 6.643, 99.16; QUARTERFINALS — Kalitta, 3.737, 323.81 def. Pritchett, 9.039, 50.45; B. Torrence, 3.728, 320.28 def. McMillen, 3.735, 327.66; Force, 3.709, 330.72 def. Prock, 3.732, 331.69; S. Torrence, 3.712, 326.79 def. Salinas, 3.704, 330.55; SEMIFINALS — S. Torrence, 3.689, 330.55 def. Kalitta, Broke; Force, 3.714, 329.99 def. B. Torrence, 3.710, 332.10; FINAL — Force, 3.652, 334.73 def. S. Torrence, 3.719, 330.63.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Cruz Pedregon, Dodge Charger, 4.015, 289.82 def. Shawn Langdon, Toyota Camry, 7.723, 104.15; Jonnie Lindberg, Ford Mustang, 3.893, 326.00 def. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.913, 327.90; John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.927, 325.92 def. Steven Densham, Mustang, 3.958, 320.20; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.879, 329.67 def. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 4.048, 306.81; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.894, 327.27 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.160, 299.93; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.911, 329.83 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.911, 329.67; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.909, 332.34 def. Paul Lee, Charger, 3.927, 325.45; Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.893, 329.75 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.970, 315.64; QUARTERFINALS — Lindberg, 3.899, 328.54 def. Pedregon, 4.039, 290.26; Hagan, 3.869, 330.31 def. Johnson Jr., 3.907, 328.54; Beckman, 3.907, 325.92 def. Hight, 3.891, 329.75; Tasca III, 3.891, 331.61 def. Force, 4.027, 321.73; SEMIFINALS — Lindberg, 3.930, 325.30 def. Beckman, 3.915, 330.07; Hagan, 3.881, 331.77 def. Tasca III, 3.909, 326.48; FINAL — Hagan, 3.876, 331.36 def. Lindberg, 3.945, 321.12.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.625, 206.70 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.698, 205.69; Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.636, 206.10 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.653, 207.37; Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.629, 207.85 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.622, 205.91 def. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.656, 206.64; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.611, 205.98 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, 12.221, 70.90; Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.650, 206.57 def. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 7.102, 154.07; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.603, 207.62 def. Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, Foul – Red Light; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.631, 206.73 def. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.672, 205.69; QUARTERFINALS — Enders, 6.631, 207.53 def. Laughlin, 7.043, 188.86; Coughlin, 6.624, 206.07 def. Stanfield, 6.650, 207.30; Butner, 6.623, 205.91 def. Delco, 6.832, 171.40; Line, 6.649, 206.89 def. Anderson, 6.628, 206.39; SEMIFINALS — Coughlin, 6.631, 206.32 def. Line, 6.641, 207.18; Enders, 6.638, 207.46 def. Butner, 6.645, 206.20; FINAL — Enders, 6.617, 208.04 def. Coughlin, 6.620, 201.70.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Angie Smith, 6.994, 191.92 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.105, 192.99; Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 6.915, 192.22 def. Hector Arana Jr, Foul – Red Light; Scotty Pollacheck, 6.917, 194.46 def. Hector Arana, Foul – Red Light; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.910, 193.79 def. Melissa Surber, Buell, 11.776, 61.13; Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.875, 195.05 def. Ryan Oehler, 7.446, 190.54; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.860, 192.55 def. Ron Tornow, Buell, 7.100, 185.69; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.902, 195.19 def. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.006, 190.16; Matt Smith, 6.897, 196.99 def. Katie Sullivan, Suzuki, 7.153, 184.65; QUARTERFINALS — Pollacheck, 6.926, 194.21 def. Krawiec, 6.960, 192.82; M. Smith, 6.903, 195.85 def. A. Smith, 6.970, 192.91; Johnson, 6.888, 189.92 def. Sampey, Foul – Red Light; Hines, 6.937, 193.54 def. Savoie, 6.901, 194.58; SEMIFINALS — M. Smith, 6.895, 196.19 def. Hines, Foul – Red Light; Johnson, 6.876, 193.82 def. Pollacheck, 6.953, 194.83; FINAL — M. Smith, 6.855, 195.90 def. Johnson, 6.863, 194.04.

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

UPDATED POINT STANDINGS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 2,488; 2. Brittany Force, 2,472; 3. Doug Kalitta, 2,433; 4. Billy Torrence, 2,402; 5. Leah Pritchett, 2,353; 6. Austin Prock, 2,330; 7. Mike Salinas, 2,322; 8. Antron Brown, 2,279; 9. Richie Crampton, 2,261; 10. Clay Millican, 2,241.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, 2,494; 2. Jack Beckman, 2,448; 3. Matt Hagan, 2,438; 4. John Force, 2,422; 5. Bob Tasca III, 2,390; 6. Ron Capps, 2,334; 7. J.R. Todd, 2,312; 8. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,306; 9. Shawn Langdon, 2,274; 10. Tim Wilkerson, 2,223.

PRO STOCK: 1. Erica Enders, 2,517; 2. Jeg Coughlin, 2,425; 3. Bo Butner, 2,404; 4. Jason Line, 2,401; 5. Matt Hartford, 2,399; 6. Greg Anderson, 2,360; 7. Deric Kramer, 2,359; 8. Alex Laughlin, 2,291; 9. Chris McGaha, 2,250; 10. Val Smeland, 2,155.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines, 2,540; 2. Jerry Savoie, 2,425; 3. Eddie Krawiec, 2,424; 4. Matt Smith, 2,423; 5. Karen Stoffer, 2,416; 6. Hector Arana Jr, 2,306; 7. Angelle Sampey, 2,302; 8. Angie Smith, 2,233; 9. Ryan Oehler, 2,191; 10. Hector Arana, 2,160.

Follow @JerryBonkowski