By Lee Elder
BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 19, 2018) – Billy Torrence had never been a top qualifier in the NHRA’s Top Fuel category before this weekend’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series race at Brainerd International Raceway. He’d never won a race, either.
Now he’s done both.
Torrence, the father of Top Fuel points leader Steve Torrence, beat former Top Fuel champion Antron Brown in the final round and grabbed his first Top Fuel Wally. The victory set off a wild celebration at the starting line and the celebration continued when Steve Torrence and the rest of the team reached the shutoff area.
“I’ll remember trying not to cry while you’re interviewing me, for the first thing,” Billy Torrence told Fox reporter Amanda Busick. “I’ll remember all the hard work. We changed two engines (one in each car) every time, except (the final round). One time we didn’t even get to warm up.”
Jack Beckman won in Funny Car, Derick Kramer bested the Pro Stock field and Eddie Krawiec won in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
“Yeah, it was big,” Steve Torrence said immediately after watching his father win. “Not only did he win, he done it on a holeshot. That guy (Brown) kicked my butt in the last round.”
Torrence’s 3.756-second, 329.99 mph pass in the finals beat Brown’s 3.751 and 329.10. Billy Torrence had been 0-5 against Brown. The margin of victory was about .0038 of a second (or about 22 inches).
Beckman beat Tommy Johnson Jr. in the finals of Funny Car with a 3.961-second elapsed time and a speed of 325.69 mph. Johnson’s numbers were 4.031 and 319.67.
“You guys have no idea how much it means to a race team at the end of a day on race day,” Beckman said. “This means we got our act together. We’ve got a car that runs good. We could not pick a better time of year.”
It was Beckman’s second win this season and the 28th of his career. Beckman has never lost to Johnson in a final round of eliminations. Beckman clinched a berth in the Countdown.
Kramer defeated Tanner Gray when Gray left early and fouled out in the Pro Stock final. Kramer’s elapsed time was still a good one, 6.652 second. He was clocked at 297.56 mph.
“I shifted into high gear, I looked up and I saw the win light was on in my lane,” Kramer said. “I figured that was pretty good for me.”
It was Kramer’s second career win in five final round appearances.
Krawiec won for the fourth time this season and for the fourth time at Brainerd. Krawiec’s winning elapsed time was 6.897 seconds and his speed was 195.14 mph. Andrew Hines lost to Krawiec in the final (6.903 and 193.99).
The NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship begins after the next race on the schedule, the US Nationals, over the Labor Day Weekend. The Countdown fields became slightly clearer at Brainerd. Drivers with a viable chance to bump into the top 10 are included in the standings below. Only the top 10 in the standings are included in the Countdown fields.
TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence 1,332; 2. Tony Schumacher 1,145; 3. Millican 1,144; 4. Leah Pritchett 1,118; 5. Doug Kalitta 1,027; 6. Antron Brown 1,026; 7. Terry McMillen 791; 8. Brittany Force 787; 9. Scott Palmer 701; 10. Mike Salinas 694; 11. Richie Crampton 692.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Courtney Force 1,372; 2. Ron Capps 1,187; 3. Robert Hight 1,154; 4. Matt Hagan 1,102; 5. Jack Beckman 1,110; 6. J.R. Todd 987; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr. 987 8. John Force 855; 9. Shawn Langdon 791; 10. Tim Wilkerson 747; 11. Bob Tasca 723; 12. Cruz Pedregon 672.
PRO STOCK: 1. Greg Anderson 1,262; Tanner Gray 1,242; 3. Erica Enders 1,146; 4. Vincent Nobile 1,084; 5. Jeg Coughlin 1,055; 6. Chris McGaha 983; 7. Deric Kramer 1,045; 8. Drew Skillman 959; 9. Jason Line 986; 10. Bo Butner 930; 11. Andrew Laughlin 741.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines 784; 2. Eddie Krawiec 773; 3. LE Tonglet 641; 4. Hector Arana Jr. 646; 5. Jerry Savoie 588; 6. Matt Smith 540; 7. Scotty Pollacheck 480; 8. Angie Smith 409; 9. Angelle Sampey 372; 10. Hector Arana 353; 11. Jim Underdahl 343; 12. Steve Johnson 334; 13. Joey Gladstone 317.
NOTES: Greg Anderson’s victory in the first round guaranteed that he would lead the Pro Stock points at the end of the Brainerd event, making him the all-time leader in the number of times he has led the standings after an event. Unofficially, is tied with Tanner Gray for the standings lead. Through his career, Anderson has led the standings after 134 events. Anderson broke a tie with Warren Johnson. … Anderson’s race against Coughlin in the first round was the 96th time they’ve met, the most round races among Pro Stock drivers. … Brittany Force’s 3.742-second run in Round 2 was the fastest elapsed time of the weekend in the category, at that time. She lost that round to Antron Brown.