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Steve Torrence raced to the Top Fuel victory Sunday at the 19th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the inaugural four-wide racing experience for fans on the West Coast came to an end in front of a sellout crowd.
J.R. Todd (Funny Car) and Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) were also winners in their respective categories at the fourth event on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
Torrence piloted his Capco Contractors dragster to a 3.771-second pass at 326.63 mph for the 18th victory of his career and second of the season. He defeated the No. 1 qualifier Tony Schumacher, three-time world champion Antron Brown and Doug Kalitta in the final round.
“I knew my team was confident coming into today, but going into a final round against Antron [Brown], Tony Schumacher and Doug [Kalitta] up against you makes it a tough round,” Torrence said. “Our car still isn’t performing at the level it was last year, but we know we just have to work on the car and prepare for the later part of this season when every race really matters.”
With the victory, Torrence moves atop the Top Fuel points standings as he chases his first world championship in the class.
Todd ran a 4.041 at 317.05 in his DHL Toyota Camry for his first DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals win and 11th of his career. Jack Beckman finished in second after his 4.052 at 312.21, while Courtney Force wound up third and Tommy Johnson Jr. ended in fourth.
“We brought out a new car in Gainesville and struggled during Friday’s qualifying this weekend, but I got my confidence up in the fourth round of qualifying and then definitely carried over into today,” Todd said. “I know it’s going to be tough to crack the top ten in this Funny Car class because it’s so competitive, so every win we can get is going to help us crack the Countdown to the Championship.”
In Pro Stock, Nobile picked up his 11th career victory and first at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway when he ran a 6.591 at 210.44 in his Mountain View Tire and Auto Service Chevy Camaro. He bested Deric Kramer, Bo Butner and Chris McGaha in the final round.
“My team worked their tails off this weekend, we went through three engines over the weekend but overall it was a great weekend and there isn’t any reason we can’t be back in the winner’s circle again soon,” Nobile said. “The car has been running well but we have had some bad luck so far this season, but we are hoping this is our turning point.”
The 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, Texas April 20-22.