By Lee Elder
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (April 8, 2018) – Steve Torrence beat an all-star cast in the final quad and won the NHRA Top Fuel trophy at the DENSO Spark Plugs 4 Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
It was the initial national event for the track’s new four-lane configuration. The new venue was popular with the teams. The lanes surrendered equal performance through the weekend. But Torrence said he preferred the fourth lane because it offered simpler views of the staging lights on the starting tree.
“We can’t race in (lanes) two or three because I can’t figure it out,” Torrence said. “I’ve got to be in four.”
J.R. Todd won in Funny Car and Vincent Nobile was the Pro Stock winner.
Torrence had to beat Tony Schumacher (the winningest Top Fuel racer in history), Doug Kalitta and Antron Brown in the final quad. It was his second win of 2018 and it came after Torrence eliminated his father, Billy Torrence, in the first quad. Steve beat Billy earlier this season as well.
“I’ve got to work with him every day,” the Vegas winner said. “If I don’t win, I’ve got to hear about it every day until we race again. The last time it took five years.”
It was the second straight victory in a four-wide race for Torrence and the 18th national victory of his career. His numbers in the final quad were 3.771 seconds and 326.63 mph.
Todd’s victory came against Courtney Force, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. Johnson jumped early and fouled and Todd’s 4.041-second elapsed time was good enougb to beat the others. He was clocked at 317.05 mph. Todd collected his first four-wide win, first win this season and his third career Funny Car win.
“We’re definitely ahead of where we were at this time last year,” Todd said of himself and his Kalitta Motorsport team. He is in just his second season of Funny Car racing after starting his career in Top Fuel. He added, “It’s amazing what seat time does for you. I’ve had a year.”
Todd’s victory set off the wild celebration the team is known for. The team was scheduled to test at the track on Monday, leading Todd to say, “They’re going to be limping (from the mosh pit) and probably have some sore heads, too.”
Nobile had not won in Pro Stock since winning at Maple Grove in 2016. He now has 11 career wins, but the Vegas win was his first in four-wide competition.
Nobile won largely because of his .019 reaction time. His margin of victory over runner-up Deric Kramer was a scant .0007 of a second. Chris McGaha and Bo Butner were also in the final round. Nobile’s elapsed time was 6.690 seconds and his speed was 206.80 mph.
“I looked over and I was pretty sure I had the guy next to me,” Nobile said. “I had no idea what the guys in the other two lanes were doing.”
NOTES: Race organizers announced that Sunday’s eliminations was officially a sell out. It was the third sellout of the 2018 season … Tony Schumacher’s top qualifying performance marked the 150th event that he has qualified first or second in Top Fuel … Antron Brown competed in his 1000th round of competition Sunday … It was the first time this season the top qualifier in Funny Car has not won the final round. Courtney Force was the top qualifier … Funny Car ace Jack Beckman, after advancing in the first round, “This is why you never bet on drag racing: The number 12 and 13 qualifiers advanced.”