TOPEKA, KS – May 15, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Coming off arguably the best three-week stretch in his Top Fuel career, Steve Torrence heads to Heartland Park Topeka, the site of this weekend’s 29th annual Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties, a confident driver.
Torrence has advanced to three straight final rounds and has posted back-to-back NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series victories in his 10,000-horsepower Capo Contractors Inc. dragster, knocking off a number of considerable stalwarts in the process. That has supplied plenty of confidence and momentum for Torrence and his seasoned team, and it also has him anxious to keep up this torrid pace after a week off.
“We’re going to try to continue to do what we’ve been doing at the same pace and not slack off,” said Torrence, who sits third in Top Fuel points. “If you get out of that routine and get into a different regimen, you may lose momentum. We want to continue with that same intensity. Everything we do is based on confidence and I know the car is going to be on point. We’ve made some changes to the entire set-up and the car is responding well. The race car that I have right now is the best race car I’ve ever had in my life.”
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of a race will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including a live broadcast of the finals on Sunday, May 21 at 2 p.m. (ET). The race is the eighth of 24 events during a 2017 season that has the chance to be the best one yet for Torrence, who finished a career-best third a year ago.
That impressive run included three wins and eight finals appearances, leaving Torrence determined to top that in 2017. He’s well on his way, knocking off eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher in Atlanta a week after Torrence’s Four-Wide Nationals victory in Charlotte. Torrence’s dragster has been consistently quick in the low 3.70s and he has been brilliant on the starting line, with that combination putting noticeable pressure on drivers in the other lane.
“We want to keep the pressure on everybody we’re racing so they know they have to consistently run well,” said Torrence, a 10-time Top Fuel winner. “When you get to that place where they know you’re going to run well, it forces them into mistakes. I feel like that’s where we’re at, and it’s something we’ve evolved into.”
In the process, Torrence has shared in some playful banter with the likes of Schumacher and points leader Leah Pritchett, who has three wins this season including beating Torrence in the final round at Houston. For Torrence, it’s all in good fun but it’s also a sign of the Texas native’s strong competitive spirit. He’ll have that on display in Topeka, where he’s determined to pick up his first Top Fuel win at the track despite a number of worthy contenders, including defending winner Kalitta, who capped off a stretch of three straight wins with a Topeka victory a year ago.
“I’m having a blast,” Torrence said. “I’m having more fun than I probably ever have. Those guys, they want to beat me just as bad as I want to beat them, and sometimes I think you have to add a little flavor and a little color into what’s going on. Topeka was my first national event win in Top Alcohol Dragster 12 years ago and it’s a pretty neat place to race. I would love to be able to win in a (Top) Fuel car. It would be one to check off the list.”
Defending Funny Car winner Hagan started 2017 strong, but reigning world champ Ron Capps has been red hot lately, winning three straight races to take over the points lead.
Line’s Pro Stock win helped fuel his third Pro Stock championship and he’ll face off against 2017 winners Shane Gray, points leader Greg Anderson, Shane McGaha, Bo Butner and Tanner Gray.
The NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series makes the fifth of 12 stops in 2017 at Heartland Park Topeka. The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. After Nitro qualifying on Friday, fans can watch the spectacular Larsen Motorsports jet dragsters sponsored by Florida Tech and Matrix System as well. Jet cars are thrust driven vehicles propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 19 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, May 20, at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 21.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
MENARDS NHRA HEARTLAND NATIONALS
WHAT: 29th annual Mendards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties, the eighth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in three categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The race also will feature competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series.
WHERE: Heartland Park Topeka, Topeka, Kansas. From Kansas City, take the Kansas Turnpike (I-70) to the Topeka Boulevard exit and travel south to the track. From Wichita, take the Kansas Turnpike (I-335) to the Topeka Boulevard exit and travel south to the track.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, May 19-21
FRIDAY, May 19 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 3 and 6 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 3:30 and 6:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, May 20 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 1 and Round 1 of eliminations at 4 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, May 21 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES eliminations at 12:15 p.m.
Friday, May 19, FS1 will televise one hour of pre-recorded qualifying at 11 p.m. (EST).
Saturday, May 20, FS1 will televise one hour of live qualifying at 3 p.m. (EST).
Sunday, May 21, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals at 2 p.m. (EST).
2016 EVENT WINNERS: Doug Kalitta, Top Fuel; Matt Hagan, Funny Car; Jason Line, Pro Stock.
MOST VICTORIES: John Force, 9, FC; Scott Kalitta, 6, TF; Warren Johnson, 5, PS, Cruz Pedregon, 4, FC; Greg Anderson, 4, PS.
Top Fuel – 3.676 seconds by Brittany Force, May ‘16; 331.85 mph by Doug Kalitta, May ’16.
Funny Car – 3.862 seconds by Matt Hagan, May ‘16; 335.57 mph by Matt Hagan, May ’16.
Pro Stock – 6.515 seconds by Erica Enders, May ’15; 211.43 mph by Enders, May ’15.
Top Fuel – 3.658 sec. by Leah Pritchett, Feb. ‘17, Phoenix; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.822 by Matt Hagan, Aug. ’16, Brainerd, Minn.; 335.57 mph by Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ’14, Englishtown N.J.
TICKETS: For tickets call (800) 884-NHRA (6472). Tickets also available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets
GLENDORA, CA — Point standings (top 10) following the 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, the seventh of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Leah Pritchett, 641; 2. Tony Schumacher, 627; 3. Steve Torrence, 592; 4. Antron Brown, 560; 5. Doug Kalitta, 486; 6. Clay Millican, 385; 7. Brittany Force, 347; 8. Terry McMillen, 301; 9.Troy Coughlin Jr., 295; 10. Scott Palmer, 244.
1. Ron Capps, 633; 2. Matt Hagan, 539; 3. John Force, 490; 4. Robert Hight, 437; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., 427; 6. Jack Beckman, 426; 7. Courtney Force, 405; 8. Tim Wilkerson, 329; 9. J.R.Todd, 326; 10. Jonnie Lindberg, 318.
1. Greg Anderson, 586; 2. Bo Butner, 585; 3. Jason Line, 515; 4. Tanner Gray, 496; 5. Jeg Coughlin, 495; 6. Chris McGaha, 421; 7. Erica Enders, 390; 8. Shane Gray, 382; 9. Drew Skillman, 360; 10. Vincent Nobile, 341.
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association