The opening round of Top Fuel at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals was a Jekyll and Hyde affair with solid runs, tire some, and an upset by homestate hero Pat Dakin.
Crew chief Rob Wendland stayed up late Saturday night “fiddling around” with the tune-up on Terry McMillen’s Amalie Motor Oil dragster and poured it on with a 3.718 to beat rookie Austin Prock that was low e.t. of the round and just a few ticks shy of Brittany Force’s3.712 low qualifying effort.
Force got a bye run after Lex Joon, who worked all night to repair damage suffered in Q4, was unable to get his car to the starting line; he likely wouldn’t have beaten Force anyway as she powered to a 3.735 at 332.55 mph, top speed of the meet. After that, it was a real crapshoot.
Veteran Dakin. Of Daytion, Ohio, gave the homestate fans something to cheer about, pulling a big upset to beat Bristol champ Mike Salinas, whose mount shredded the blower belt, with a 3.806 to score his second round win of the season.
Billy Torrence, who announced an expanded schedule with the intent of making it into the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, added another round win to his tally with a strong 3.74 to defeat Richie Crampton’s otherwise game 3.76.
The track got tricky from there. For the second straight event, Doug Kalitta showcased his prodigious driving skills by winning a pedalfest, this time defeating Clay Millican and Steve Torrence pounded out a workmanlike 3.74 to beat up-in-smoke rookie Jordan Vandergriff.
Second-round pairings (lane choice first): Brittany Force vs. Billy Torrence; Steve Torrence vs. Doug Kalitta; Leah Pritchett vs. Antron Brown; Terry McMillen vs. Pat Dakin