The 11th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway gave one driver his fourth Countdown to the Championship win, while two drivers finally found their ways to victory lane for the first time in this championship chase.
After yet another dominating performance, Top Fuel points leader Steve Torrence remained on top after earning his ninth win of 2018 and fourth of the championship chase. While the same old song and dance is showing up repeatedly in this series, a new story is being told in both the Funny Car and Pro Stock series after both Ron Capps and Jason Line earned their first Countdown to the Championship wins at zMAX Dragway.
After a dream come true type of chase for a 2018 Top Fuel World Championship, Torrence Racing driver Steve Torrence fulfilled yet another fantasy after taking down Chris Karamesines, Leah Pritchett and Tony Schumacher to take on defending world champion Brittany Force in Sunday’s final round.
Although Force ruined his chance at a championship last season, Torrence had an opportunity to overcome his past hurdle at zMAX after a 3.703-second pass at 329.67 MPH in his Capco Contractors/Torrence Racing dragster gave the Top Fuel king a chance to take down his rival. This win also gave Torrence the chance to become the first driver in Top Fuel history to win the first four races of the Countdown to the Championship.
“It has been truly unbelievable for us to go out and accomplish what we have done,” said Torrence. “I could not be prouder of what those guys are doing than I am now. You do not win a championship by default. You go up there and do your job when it is crunch time. This was the biggest race of the season for us and we needed to capitalize, and that is exactly what we did.”
Thanks to his latest win, Torrence has opened a commanding 169-point lead over Clay Millican with two races remaining in the 2018 season as he seeks his first world championship.
While Torrence continues to be the clear choice for a world championship in Top Fuel, the battle for the 2018 Funny Car champion is very far from decided. After his first Countdown to the Championship win of the season, 2016 Funny Car Champion Ron Capps hopes that he and his Don Schumacher Racing team’s performance at zMAX Dragway is the start to a chance at this year’s world championship.
After obtaining victories over Dale Creasy Jr., defending world champion Robert Hight and Tim Wilkerson, Capps moved onto Sunday’s final round against Kalitta Motorsports young gun J.R. Todd. With a 3.890-second pass at 331.20 MPH in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T, Capps earned his third career victory at zMAX Dragway as well as the 61st of his Funny Car career.
“To throw down those speeds and E.T.s when we needed it – that was very cool,” said Capps. “We have got a lot of business left and the chase is definitely not over. Anything can happen, and we are going to go down fighting. We are definitely gaining momentum and it gives me a lot of confidence going into the final two races.”
Thanks to his latest victory, Capps now sits third in the points battle going into the final two races of the season.
Capps wouldn’t be the only driver to earn his first Countdown to the Championship win at zMAX Dragway. After knocking off defending world champion Bo Butner, Jeg Coughlin Jr. and No. 1 qualifier Drew Skillman, three-time world champion Jason Line raced into Sunday’s final round against young gun Pro Stock points leader Tanner Gray.
With a 6.531-second pass at 211.89 MPH in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro, Line became the 10th different winner in Pro Stock this season all while earning the 50th national event win of his drag racing career.
“I was just trying to be calm against Gray and cut the best light I was capable of,” said Line. “My team did a great job on my racecar, which made this win possible.”
Although defeated by Line, Gray continues to lead the Pro Stock points standings over Jeg Coughlin Jr. going into the final two races of the season.
Stay tuned to RacingJunk.com as the champions of the NHRA compete in the fifth race in the Countdown to the Championship at the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway October 25-28, 2018.