Pat Dakin reached his first final round in more than 20 years and will take on reigning world champ Steve Torrence for the Top Fuel title at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.
Dakin, of Dayton, Ohio, and racing in front of his homestate fans, upset Leah Pritchett in the semifinals after she smoked the tires shortly off the line. Dakin’s Scott Graham-tuned Commercial Metal Fabrication dragster smoked the tires and backfired the blower further downtrack, but he was far enough in front to hold the lead.
Dakin’s last final-round appearance came at the Atlanta event in 1998, where he was runner-up to Cory McClenathan in what was his fourth consecutive runner-up after two victories in the early 1970s. He lost to some of the best: Don Garlits (1977 Gainesville), Shirley Muldowney (1977 Montreal), Scott Kalitta (1994 Reading).
His two victories both came in Montreal, in 1971 and 1973, so a win in Norwalk would be his first in the United States. To get it, he has to beat the points leader and reigning world champ in Torrence.
Torrence advanced to the final, his seventh straight, after winning a battle of the last two Top Fuel world champions, beating 2017 champ Brittany Force for his milestone 300th career round win with a 3.82 after Force smoked the tires at midtrack for the second straight round.
Torrence’s seventh consecutive final round includes wins in Charlotte, Richmond Chicago, and Topeka and a streak-ending runner-up behind Mike Salinas last weekend in Bristol.