Torrence, Gray, Anderson, Krawiec collect E-town wins
Sunday, June 03, 2012
Steve Torrence raced to his second Top Fuel victory of the season Sunday at the Toyota NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
Johnny Gray (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event, which was slightly delayed by a passing afternoon thunderstorm as teams prepared for their final rounds.
Torrence beat Tony Schumacher and Spencer Massey in earlier rounds with quicker reaction times and then used a horsepower advantage to edge Brandon Bernstein at the finish line in the final round. In the final, Torrence’s Capco Contractors dragster finished in 3.800 seconds at 323.66 mph while Bernstein’s MavTV/Lucas Oil machine trailed with a 3.807 at 321.04.
“It’s really a little surreal coming out and having success in a short time,” Torrence said. “I figured this team to be a competitive team and run with these guys, but I didn’t expect to do as well as we have. It’s really gratifying to be able to go out and do that well. Today, we had some really tough races. Two races, we won by a thou against both of the Schumacher cars. I don’t know, but it’s more gratifying when you go out and you really have races that you’ve got to beat the guy beside you rather than them smoking the tires or whatever. I had my best light of the weekend against Brandon that round, and I was pretty pumped up because I knew he’d been on it. I may have cheated the car a little bit. I think it was going to go .79 instead of .80, but I stole from the starting line.”
Massey, who failed to certify his category-best low e.t. of the event as a national record, maintained his series lead over second place Schumacher with the semifinal effort. Torrence, who also won at Atlanta in May, has surged to fifth in the points standings.
“The car that I’ve got right now is the best Top Fuel car that I’ve ever driven, so I do feel like we have a championship contender car if it stays the way that it’s running,” Torrence said. “We’ll just see. [Contending for the championship] is in the back of my mind, but we’re still going one round, one race at a time because consistency is the key. We’re trying to get some parts built up for the Countdown, and when that time comes, we’ll start looking in that direction. I don’t want to get the cart before the horse. I just want to go out here and keep racing and hopefully get some round-wins.”
In Funny Car, Gray claimed his first victory of the season and second of his career by beating teammate Ron Capps in the final round. Gray pulled away from Capps, who was making his fifth consecutive final-round appearance, with a performance of 4.078 at 314.39 in his NTB/Service Central Dodge Charger. Capps’ NAPA Auto Parts Charger, which posted the quickest run in NHRA history on Friday with a blast of 3.964 seconds, lost traction, and finished in 5.358 at 160.71. Capps also failed to back-up his category-best performance during eliminations to certify it as a national record.
Gray faced tough competitors all day, beating Jim Head, John Force, and Robert Hight in the opening rounds.
“There wasn’t anything easy about it,” Gray said. “Nothing is ever easy trying to outrun any of the fuel cars that are out there, but Rob [Wendland, crew chief], Rip [Reynolds, assistant crew chief], and all the guys just gave me a great race car all weekend. I think a .11 was our slowest pass of the weekend. What can you say? That car’s just awesome. It’s fun to drive. It goes good. It goes straight. You know what it’s going to do, so we’re really looking forward to going to the next race.”
With the semifinal finish Hight increased his series lead over Capps, who solidified his second place position with the runner-up effort. Gray, who failed to qualify for the Countdown playoffs last season, made a major move toward making the top 10 this season with this victory, climbing to fourth in the standings.
“We struggled a little bit, and we lost it a little bit a few races back, but we made some changes along with the help of Rahn Tobler and Mike Green and just really all the guys over at the DSR brain trust,” Gray said. “They came over and kind of got us back on track and helped the guys kind of get the car lined up, and now she’s just a pooch. You just take her up there, and she goes right down the racetrack.”
Anderson raced to his fourth Pro Stock victory of the season and 74th of his career in a new car, a Chevy Camaro. Anderson defeated teammate Jason Line in the final round with a performance of 6.560 at 212.03 in his Summit Racing Equipment Camaro while Line’s Summit Racing Pontiac GXP trailed with a 6.588 at 200.98. It was also the 100th win for the KB Racing team, owned by Ken Black.
“We brought [the new Camaro] here with high hopes and surpassed those hopes,” Anderson said. “This is a fantastic weekend. Couple weekends ago I lost in the final to Allen Johnson. I thought I had the better car. I had a better light, and we shook the tires. I lost, and I told [team owner] Ken Black, that maybe you should be on hand for the 100th win for KB racing. For him to come across the country from Las Vegas, he must have had that feeling. He jetted all the way over here.”
Anderson, who qualified sixth, advanced to the final with early round-wins over Ron Krisher, Mike Edwards, and Allen Johnson. It was his fifth career win at Raceway Park, which makes him the winningest Pro Stock driver in the track's history, moving past Bob Glidden and Warren Johnson.
Line pulled ahead of the final-round race, but then slowed dramatically as the two cars charged toward the finish line.
“In the final, Jason would have won but he broke a valve spring, and that cost him about two-hundredths,” Anderson said. “If this had been a 1,000-foot race, he’d have won, but this isn’t Top Fuel. We run a quarter-mile, and that made the difference. It’s tough for Jason, but the bottom line was we couldn’t lose in the final.”
Anderson, who increased his series lead with the victory, was thrilled to win with his new Camaro in its debut.
“It was a gutsy call to bring the Camaro here,” Anderson said. “It was a tough decision, but I’m so excited about GM being back in Pro Stock, and the muscle car being back in Pro Stock. We knew that the sooner we got it out here the better off the class would be. Even if it wasn’t 100 percent, we were bringing it.”
Local favorite Krawiec, former Raceway Park track manager, claimed an emotional first Pro Stock Motorcycle victory at the historic track, taking the automatic victory when his final-round opponent Hector Arana Sr. fouled at the start on his Lucas Oil Buell. Krawiec claimed his 14th career victory by finishing in 6.921 at 171.45 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.
“During my TV interview, I actually started crying,” said Krawiec, an Englishtown native who now calls Indianapolis home. “[Team owner] Terry Vance has said many times that something that never comes out of Eddie’s mouth is ‘I have nothing to say.’ But I was speechless.”
Krawiec, who increased his series lead with the win, defeated Joe DeSantis and former world champs Matt Smith and LE Tonglet in the first three rounds to advance to the final. He knew he would need to be on his game for the final with Arana, who had posted some of the quickest runs of the day.
“I knew I had to hit the Tree good and make a nice run to have a chance of winning,” Krawiec said. “I let Craig Treble whip me here in 2009 because I thought I had a better bike, and I laid back on the starting line. He picked my pocket and still doesn’t let me forget it. I thought that was my one and only chance to win this race. Thankfully, it wasn’t.”
Danny Rowe raced to his second consecutive victory of the season Sunday in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx portion of the Toyota NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
Rowe defeated Troy Coughlin in the final round to take the victory. Coughlin fouled at the start in his JEGS.com ’68 Camaro while Rowe finished in 5.910 at 239.57 in his supercharged Sterling Bridge ’68 Camaro.
In earlier rounds, Rowe defeated Jay Payne, Steve Matusek, and top qualifier Mike Castellana. It was Rowe’s third career victory and his second win in a row at the historic New Jersey track.
With the win, Rowe increased his series lead to 30 points over second-place Castellana.
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series continues June 15-17 with the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers at Bristol Dragway.
Friday: Capps (3.96!), Massey (3.72!) headline 'super' day in Englishtown
Saturday: Massey, Capps, Line, Krawiec hold onto No. 1 spots in E-Town