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Behind the Numbers: Counting down the 10 closest finals of 2017

Watch the 10 tightest final rounds in the Mello Yello professional classes from the 2017 NHRA Drag Racing season.
07 Dec 2017
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Bristol

What’s better than a close finish at high speeds? A close finish at high speeds in a final round, of course. With the 2017 season in the books, I looked at the closest final rounds in the four Mello Yello professional categories. You can watch all 10 right here: I promise you won’t be disappointed. From defending Top Fuel champion Brittany Force’s tight win over Shawn Langdon in Dallas to LE Tonglet’s close triumph over Matt Smith in Sonoma, there are some great drag races below. 

10. Steve Torrence vs. Doug Kalitta, Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals (.0049)

Torrence drove around Kalitta thanks to his .011-second advantage at the starting line. That holeshot win kept Kalitta winless yet again and gave Steve-O his fourth triumph of the season. The .0049-second margin of victory for Torrence helped keep the Texan in first place, a streak he’d build out to five races. 

9. Alexis DeJoria vs. Tommy Johnson Jr., Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals (.0047)

DeJoria’s only win of the season came in Brainerd by a hair. She drove around Johnson’s holeshot advantage to claim the victory in their first final-round matchup. The driver of the Tequila Patron car made up ground all the way down the strip to eventually take down Johnson by .0047 second. 

8. Eddie Krawiec vs. Andrew Hines, Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals (.0046)

Pro Stock Motorcycle got its season started with its second-closest final of the season. 2017 season champion Krawiec took down teammate Hines despite getting off the starting line .035 second later. He had a good tune-up in his Harley-Davidson and grabbed his first of what would turn into seven Wallys in 2017. 

7. Ron Capps vs. Jack Beckman, NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals (.0043)

Capps won the closest Funny Car race of the year thanks to a .026 light. That got revenge on Beckman, who beat Capps in Englishtown a week prior. It took just about all of Capps’ reaction time to pull out the .0043-second margin of victory, which started a string of two out of three wins for the NAPA Auto Parts driver.

6. Tanner Gray vs. Bo Butner, Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals (.0042)

The first Pro Stock [car] entry on this list features the defending champion (Butner) and Auto Club Road to the Future award recipient (Gray). It’s the rookie who got the best of this matchup, as the two left at nearly the same time (Butner got the advantage by .001 second), but Gray had the better car. That allowed the rookie to win by .0042.

5. Greg Anderson vs. Jason Line, AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals (.0031)

A battle of teammates went the way of Anderson thanks to the veteran’s superior reaction time. He let the clutch out .029 second quicker than Line, allowing him to get to the finish line .0031 second sooner. That nabbed him his first win of the Countdown to the Championship and moved him into first place in the standings. 

4. Bo Butner vs. Greg Anderson, Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals (.0018)

Butner gets on the winning end of a close race in another final from the Norwalk event due to his perfect reaction time. That got him to the stripe before teammate Anderson with a .0018-second margin of victory. Butner extended his lead in the overall standings, which he would hold all the way until the start of the Countdown to the Championship. 

3. Brittany Force vs. Shawn Langdon, AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals (.0014)

One of the biggest wins of the season for Force came in Texas. The 2017 Top Fuel champion edged out Langdon with a 3.681-second pass. She was a little behind at the starting line (.059 to .048), but made up for it down the strip to head to Las Vegas in second place behind Torrence. She reached the final round in each of the last three races of the season. 

2. Drew Skillman vs. Erica Enders, NHRA Northwest Nationals (.0006)

It’s not very often you can leave second against Enders and get away with it, but Skillman did in Seattle. He got off the starting line .005 after the expert leaver and beat her to the other end by the same margin. This race is one of two finals that went to four digits, and Skillman came away with the Wally by a .0006 margin. That’s a great drag race. 

1. LE Tonglet vs. Matt Smith, Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals (.0002)

The closest race of the year came in wine country. Tonglet won the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle, and captured the Wally when he beat Smith by just .0002 second to double up in Sonoma. That’s a good weekend for the Nitro Fish rider.