It’s rare at any drag race when both the winner and runner-up walk away equally as excited, but that helps describe the Dodge//SRT NHRA Mile-High Nationals presented by Pennzoil Top Fuel final, where Steve Torrence continued his torrid pace with his fifth win in eight races this season, and Joey Haas enjoyed his best day as a Pro with an impressive runner-up finish.
The final numbers show Torrence with a dominating performance that included a 3.860 in the final to seal career win No. 45. The reigning and three-time world champion is yet to lock up his spot in the Countdown to the Championship, but he’s almost certain to be the first, perhaps as soon as next week’s event in Sonoma.
“This is one of the most difficult places to race,” said Torrence. “It’s so much more different than what we’re used to. To have that consistency; we didn’t have the quickest car all day. We were kind of in the middle of the pack and just going out there and going down. That is a testament to the experience and the way that [crew chief] Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana race. They race really smart.
“Hats off to Joey Haas and those guys. I told some of my crew guys, ‘I hope we don’t have to race that guy [Haas]' today because that’s borderline unbeatable. They did their job every lap. When you have just a little bit of luck on your side, that’s hard to beat. I’ve been there before.”
After beating Rob Passey in the opening round, Torrence got a bye run in the quarterfinals due to the short field, but the Capco Contractors team earned their pay in the semifinals with a tough battle against Mike Salinas and his Scrappers team. The battle was every bit as close as expected with Torrence’s 3.843 holding off Salinas’ 3.854.
Torrence’s win came with the appropriate amount of fanfare, but in reality, Haas was the story of the event. Making just his third start in the class, Haas drove Terry Totten’s dragster to upset wins over Alex Laughlin, Leah Pruett, and Clay Millican, who reached the semifinals in his return to the driver’s seat after sitting out the Norwalk event.
Haas was good when he needed to be, most notably a strong 3.98 in his opening-round win over Laughlin, but he also caught a break when Pruett’s dragster was shut off on the starting line. The Totten Motorsports crew reportedly never had the cylinder heads off the car on race day but dropped the oil pan to replace the bearing before the final. They kept Torrence honest with a respectable 4.142 effort.