World champs Steve Torrence and J.R. Todd finished qualifying in Topeka as the No. 1 seeds in Top Fuel and Funny Car, respectively. Torrence, winner of the last four NHRA events, and the runaway points leader in Top Fuel, ran a 3.760 on Friday night and that run was never challenged during either of Saturday’s two qualifying runs. Torrence and his Capco team did not exactly take it easy on Saturday. The refined their combination to suit the hot weather and were rewarded with a 3.833 that was the quickest pass of the day. For Torrence, it was important to secure the top spot since he will have a bye run into the semifinals should he be able to defeat round one opponent Terry Totten due to a short 14-car field.
Sunday’s opening round will feature a number of intriguing match-ups including Clay Millican vs. Brittany Force, Doug Kalitta vs. Leah Pritchett, and Richie Crampton vs. Terry McMillen.
Todd’s 3.924 pass from Friday night also held up through Saturday’s Funny Car qualifying and he earned the 100th low qualifier award for the Kalitta Motorsports team. Todd was competitive and consistent on Saturday with runs of 4.065 and 4.059 that help set the stage for Sunday’s final eliminations. With 15 cars in the field, Todd will have a bye run in the opening round.
Most of Saturday’s drama surrounded Robert Hight, who did not make a clean run on Friday. The two-time world champion also smoked the tires on Q3 but came back to make the quickest run of the day with a 4.015 to score three bonus points in the final session. Hight finished qualifying in the No. 9 spot and will race Shawn Langdon’s Global Electronic Technologies Toyota in round one.
TOP FUEL LOW QUALIFIER STEVE TORRENCE: “I tell you what, probably all of the odds are against us. Richard Hogan (crew chief) and Bobby Lagana (crew chief) and that whole Capco group over there are doing awesome. My dad [Billy] has come out and done really well. We’ve got a lot of pipeliners back home working really hard to keep us out here and, ‘thank you’ to them. It’s Topeka and I’ve never won here in Top Fuel and I’m hoping that we can get the monkey off our back and do some good here tomorrow."
FUNNY CAR LOW QUALIFIER J.R. TODD: “That’s pretty awesome. I don’t have too many of these [low qualifier awards]. I’m sure most of them are from Dougie [Doug Kalitta]. He’s the leader for our team. We knew going in that Q2 would be the best run of the weekend. It was hot and nasty out there today but tomorrow the conditions should be cooler, much closer to what we had [Friday] night. This is a good start and now I just want to break through and get another win. There is no reason why we can’t put our DHL Camry into the winner’s circle. That’s the plan.”