Torrence, Gray, Anderson, Krawiec collect E-town wins
Steve Torrence raced to his second Top Fuel victory of the season Sunday at the Toyota NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
Johnny Gray (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event, which was slightly delayed by a passing afternoon thunderstorm as teams prepared for their final rounds.
Torrence beat Tony Schumacher and Spencer Massey in earlier rounds with quicker reaction times and then used a horsepower advantage to edge Brandon Bernstein at the finish line in the final round. In the final, Torrence’s Capco Contractors dragster finished in 3.800 seconds at 323.66 mph while Bernstein’s MAV TV/Lucas Oil machine trailed with a 3.807 at 321.04.
Massey, who failed to certify his category-best low E.T. of the event as a national record, maintained his series lead over second place Schumacher with the semifinal effort. Torrence, who also won at Atlanta in May, has surged to fifth in the points standings.
“The car that I’ve got right now is the best Top Fuel car that I’ve ever driven, so I do feel like we have a championship contender car if it stays the way that it’s running,” Torrence said. “We’ll just see. [Contending for the championship] is in the back of my mind, but we’re still going one round, one race at a time because consistency is the key. We’re trying to get some parts built up for the Countdown, and when that time comes, we’ll start looking in that direction. I don’t want to get the cart before the horse. I just want to go out here and keep racing and hopefully get some round-wins.”
Gray faced tough competitors all day, as he beat Jim Head, John Force and Robert Hight in the opening rounds.
“There wasn’t anything easy about it,” Gray said. “Nothing is ever easy trying to outrun any of the fuel cars that are out there, but Rob [Wendland, crew chief], Rip [Reynolds, assistant crew chief], and all the guys just gave me a great race car all weekend. I think a .11 was our slowest pass of the weekend. What can you say? That car’s just awesome. It’s fun to drive. It goes good. It goes straight. You know what it’s going to do, so we’re really looking forward to going to the next race.”
With the semifinal finish Hight increased his series lead over Capps, who solidified his second place position with the runner-up effort. Gray, who failed to qualify for the Countdown playoffs last season, made a major move toward making the top 10 this season with this victory, climbing to fourth in the standings.
“We struggled a little bit and we lost it a little bit a few races back, but we made some changes along with the help of Rahn Tobler and Mike Green and just really all the guys over at the DSR brain trust,” Gray said. “They came over and kind of got us back on track and helped the guys kind of get the car lined up, and now she’s just a pooch. You just take her up there, and she goes right down the racetrack.”
“We brought [the new Camaro] here with high hopes and surpassed those hopes,” Anderson said. “This is a fantastic weekend. Couple weekends ago I lost in the final to Allen Johnson. I thought I had the better car. I had a better light and we shook the tires. I lost and I told [team owner] Ken Black, that maybe you should be on hand for the 100th win for KB racing. For him to come across the country from Las Vegas, he must have had that feeling. He jetted all the way over here.”
Anderson, who qualified sixth, advanced to the final with early round wins over Ron Krisher, Mike Edwards and Allen Johnson. It was his fifth career win at Raceway Park, which makes him the winningest Pro Stock driver in the track's history, moving past Bob Glidden and Warren Johnson.
Line pulled ahead of the final round race, but then slowed dramatically as the two cars charged toward the finish line.
“In the final, Jason would have won but he broke a valve spring and that cost him about two-hundredths,” Anderson said. “If this had been a 1,000-foot race he’d have won but this isn’t Top Fuel. We run a quarter-mile and that made the difference. It’s tough for Jason but the bottom line was we couldn’t lose in the final.”
Anderson, who increased his series lead with the victory, was thrilled to win with his new Camaro in its debut.
“It was a gutsy call to bring the Camaro here,” Anderson said. “It was a tough decision but I’m so excited about GM being back in Pro Stock, and the muscle car being back in Pro Stock. We knew that the sooner we got it out here the better off the class would be. Even if it wasn’t 100-percent, we were bringing it.”
“During my TV interview I actually started crying,” said Krawiec, an Englishtown, N.J. native who now calls Indianapolis home. “[Team owner] Terry Vance has said many times, that something that never comes out of Eddie’s mouth is ‘I have nothing to say.’ But I was speechless.”
Krawiec, who increased his series lead with the win, defeated Joe DeSantis and former world champs Matt Smith and LE Tonglet in the first three rounds to advance to the final. He knew he would need to be on his game for the final with Arana, who had posted some of the quickest runs of the day.
“I knew I had to hit the tree good and make a nice run to have a chance of winning,” Krawiec said. “I let Craig Treble whip me here in 2009 because I thought I had a better bike and I laid back on the starting line. He picked my pocket and still doesn’t let me forget it. I thought that was my one and only chance to win this race. Thankfully, it wasn’t.”
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series continues June 15-17 with the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway.
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