Motorsports Recap And Behind The Scenes Access

What Happens In Vegas…Hey, It Ends Up On The Recliner Report!


Stop #23–18th NHRA Toyota Nationals, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas

Vegas. The name says it all. Yup, just the mention of that one word brings all kinds of thoughts to folks across the nation. Whether it’s the joy of winning at the tables, or the terror of not remembering if you’re actually married following last night’s festivities, this joint makes memories. And the NHRA is no different, as the second event of the 2018 NHRA Mello Yellow Drag Racing Series held here at The Strip brought a ton of memorable moments over the weekend. Yeah, we had video proof of a 300 mile-per-hour wheelie, brought back the flux capacitor, and witnessed enough dogpiles that you might have thought it was a WWE weekend. All in all…just another normal Vegas vacation. Let’s fire ’em up!

“I’VE GOT WHO? DUDE…YOU SERIOUS?”–Next year during the 2019 season, folks in the Top Fuel division might find themselves mouthing a great big “Uh-oh” when facing Blake Alexander in a first round matchup on any Elimination Sunday. Dude has tossed a perfect game this year, putting together a 10-0 record in the initial session to go along with his two event wins. On this day, he took out Antron Brown, which is no easy task. Blake knows how to throw down, and his pitches are only gonna get better….

KILLER CHROME–Matt Hagan and Leah Pritchett broke out the chrome bodies on their respective Funny Car and Top Fuel rides this weekend. Dudes, rad doesn’t even begin to describe how epic these rockets looked. More like…supercalifragilisticexpealidocious. (Is that how it’s spelled? Aw…who cares?) Man, you talk about sweet. They looked fast just sitting still at the line…

THANK YOU, WHEELIE BARS–2016. Las Vegas. First round Funny Car action. Cruz Pedregon versus Robert Hight. Cruz crosses the finish line first…in full wheelie mode. According to brother Tony Pedregon, Fox 1 broadcaster, the incident was the result of “…the perfect storm” of great front tire grip, along with one body latch instead of the two that exist today. The combination didn’t allow the air in the front of the car to release, forcing Cruzer’s car upwards to parade across the finish line on only two wheels. The RR staffers went into full salute mode following that video, including flannel shirt-wearing guy, who actually set down his can of bean dip while standing at attention. That says something. Flannel guy didn’t even release his can during a small earthquake while watching a football game three years ago. The dude was impressed.

RIDDLE ME THIS!–You can say that Deric Kramer digs Halloween, as his Pro Stock ride was tricked out in full-on Batmobile paint scheme, complete with crew members joining in the fun, one in particular wearing an epic green Riddler suit while carrying a cane. The staffers went nuts, pretending to fight each other while screaming “Wham!, Blam-O!”, and other assorted Caped Crusader quotes. Those dudes live on another planet…

BO KNOWS THE FUTURE–Gotta say that the Pro Stock pilots definitely had the most fun decorating their rides, as Bo Butner’s car was tricked out with a “Back To The Future” paint scheme, complete with a flux capacitor painted in the rear, and a crew member dressed up as Doc Brown, the eccentric scientist who created the time-traveling machine. One problem: in the movie, Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) only needed to hit 88 miles per hour to be transported to different decades. In first round action, Butner dropped a 207.56 mph to defeat Alex Laughlin, but dude didn’t disappear! What gives? We were hoping to see “Back To The Butner” vanish…at least, until Round Two.

YEP, IT WAS A FAIR FIGHT–Steve Torrence versus Billy Torrence. Son against dad. Steve only needs to get to the final round to be declared the Top Fuel champ for 2018. But, who’s in his way? His father and teammate. At first glance, it would be easy to think, “Sure, watch Billy claim he has a hangnail and say he can’t continue. Then, Steve moves on, one step closer to the title. This is a no-brainer.” Dudes, think again. Billy Torrence lays down for no person, nothing, or no amount of money. Not even for his kid, the one on the verge of a championship. This second round Top Fuel showdown was about Torrence bragging rights, and in that household, being able to claim victory is a big deal. Also, Mama K (Steve’s mom, Billy’s wife) runs the Torrence household with an iron fist, and broadcaster Dave Rieff reminded us that anyone who didn’t give 100% would deal with her. Though Steve took the win, Billy’s dropped cylinder proved to be the deciding factor. These Texas dudes don’t like losing…to anyone.

SHE’S BAAACCKKK! Finally! After a too-long hiatus, we had the return of the “Walk 1000 Foot” segment with Amanda Busick, and excited staffers burned through extra bags of Cheetos in her honor. This version took place in Vegas on Fremont Street, and while visiting with Funny Car pilot J.R. Todd, we learned that he began racing at the age of ten. Though wanting to follow in dad Mario’s pedalsteps and ride motocross, Todd’s mom quickly put the “Uh-uh” on that idea, and Junior Dragsters quickly became J.R.’s weapon of choice. Called on the phone in 2014 by Connie Kalitta on a Friday night to run a car the very next day in Vegas, the Lawrenceburg, Indiana (“The Burg”) native quickly said yes and has nothing but big love for his boss. However, RR staffers were truly disappointed when Todd refused to share his potential victory on camera, as he walked away from Amanda saying, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Staffers were betting that Todd can rock “the floss”, but no actual wagering was allowed. At first, one guy actually was willing to go in with four Twinkies, but later he reconsidered, left the room, and hid ’em to enjoy later. Big baby…

WHERE’S MICHAEL J. FOX?–Bo Butner. Driving his “Back To The Future” Pro Stocker in Round Two, he defeats Jason Line while running a 207.08. Cool. Still, we’re disappointed ’cause it only takes 88 mph to vanish into thin air. What gives? We wanted to see the flux capacitor do the job and send Bo back to the 50’s and scare the fool out of the kids at the high school dance by jammin’ some Chuck Berry. Maybe in the semis…

LET THE MADNESS BEGIN–We love crew dogpiles. (Originally we called them moshes, but were recently informed that we wuz wrong, so dogpile it is!) Anyway, you might think that a crew-flying, high-piling, asphalt-eating celebration might be kinda weird following a semifinal win, this celebration made perfect sense following Steve Torrence’s victory over Richie Crampton, giving him the 2018 Mello Yello Championship crown. The first driver to share the moment with Stevie Blaze? Antron Brown. Pure cool. Torrence then found himself experiencing Christmas early, as he received a really sweet champ’s jacket, a check for $500,000, and a blinged-out medal to go around his neck that would’ve made Snoop Dogg jealous. Considering some of the post-race celebrations we’ve seen from Torrence, the champ was surprisingly subdued. But…the party that eventually took place…we’re betting it was YouTube viral quality!

HIGHWAY ROBBERY–OK, enough of these shenanigans. Bo Butner runs a 207.66 mph to defeat Matt Hartford in the Pro Stock semifinal. No disappearing “Butner To The Future” ride, no Michael J. Fox, no flux capacitator anywhere in sight. We wuz robbed. All we needed was 88 mph. We got 207, and no Bo on the go. Can’t trust anyone these days…thought this was gonna be a Halloween treat. Uh-uh. Just a trick…

WHO? WHAT? I DUNNO!–Hector Arana Jr.’s victory in the Pro Bike final over Eddie Krawiec (His 14th overall title) placed the category into something resembling a game of Twister for the final race of the season at Pomona. We’ve got folks all over the place who could possibly take the title. Arana’s 3rd win of the season gave him a cool yellow hat, a sweet medal, and bragging rights over brother-in-law Vincent Nobile, who threw tons of shade in Hector’s direction earlier this season in Nobile’s “Walk 1000 Foot” segment with Amanda Busick. Here’s betting that Sunday dinners are freakin’ hysterical with that bunch…

AIN’T NO TRICK…THIS IS A TREAT!–Hey, the flux capacitor worked! Nope, Bo Butner didn’t suddenly vanish into the future, but he did cross the most important line of all, that being the finish line, ahead of Erica Enders in a holeshot win. With a 29-inch margin of victory, Butner’s .007 reaction time (Erica’s .023 average was #1 in the class) allowed him to take his second win of the season.

PILIN’ IT ON!–Yep, the Kalitta dogpile went full-on following J.R. Todd’s victory over Matt Hagan in the Funny Car final, and those boys know how to bring it when it comes to starting line hoopla. Todd’s victory meant a season sweep at the Vegas Strip this season, and vaulted him to the points lead heading into Pomona. Oh, and Connie Kalitta? He’s still the smartest dude in the bunch, sitting in his golf cart far, far away from the hysteria, all with a big smile on his face.

WE’RE NOT DONE YET–The Torrence Gang was at it again in the Top Fuel final, stretching their record in the last five races to an astounding 20-0 mark after Steve’s victory over Leah Pritchett. Small in number, but terrifying in effort and ability to go asphalt nuts on the starting line, the Capco boys went Dogpile #2 following the win, and as always, the quality of their high-flying abilities is astounding. Though it must be a cool feeling to know that the title is theirs, don’t expect this bunch to back off the throttle in any way in two weeks. They want total domination.

One more. Yep, uno mas event left in the 2018 season, and we’ve still got lots of drama left. For example, will any of the staffers try to eat a single bite composed of a Twinkie, Cheetos, and bean dip all mixed together? Inquiring minds want to know. Oh, and by the way, we’ve still got a bit of racing business to work on, such as three category titles that have yet to be decided! It’s the season-ending event at Pomona in two weeks, and till then, keep reclinin’!






















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