Steve Torrence inched closer to a fourth straight NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Top Fuel championship with a key victory at the Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas.
Torrence took advantage of a semifinal loss by title rival Brittany Force at the hands of Mike Salinas, then collected his tenth win of the season and his 50th in Top Fuel by defeating Salinas in the final round, 3.71 to 3.73. Torrence’s lead over Force now stands at 105 points. Salinas’ runner-up boosted him to third place, but without a realistic chance of catching Torrence at the season finale in Pomona in two weeks.
"Brittany going out in the semis was was an opportunity that we needed to to capture, we needed to capitalize on that and and we were able to do it and that that gave us a little bit of breathing room going into Pomona," he said. "We go do what we do, and and see if we can get it done.
"It was just a great weekend for us. You know, [Force crew chief David] Grubnic is is just hammering everybody. We were [qualified] No. 2 with the 71. And he goes .66. So you know, you have that in the back of your mind, but you just go do what you do. And that's something that every one of the guys on my team are really good at just staying focused on what's underneath our awning. What's what's in our headspace and nothing else."
Torrence qualified the Capco Contractors dragster No. 2 behind Force with the aforementioned 3.715 and worked his way past Jim Maroney and Tripp Tatum with runs of 3.75 and 3.73 before crew chief Richard Hogan lowered the boom on Justin Ashley in the semifinals with a 3.68.
Salinas, hot off of his win at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals two weeks ago, took the Scrappers dragster to his third in the last four races, which also included a runner-up finish behind Torrence in St. Louis. Salinas also was runner-up earlier this season in Epping, where he lost to Billy Torrence
Salianas qualified fourth in the field with a 3.712 then almost matched that with a 3.72 to defeat Doug Kalitta’s close 3.73. Salinas then avenged his Epping final-round loss, taking out Billy Torrence in round two with another 3.72, then bounced championship hopeful and low qualifier Brittany Force in the semifinals on a 3.70 to 3.68 holeshot. Force was more than on time with a .059 reaction time, but Salinas was quicker with a .027.