BROWNSBURG, Ind. – Steve Torrence piloted his Capco Contractors dragster to the Top Fuel NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout victory Saturday at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the world’s biggest drag race, at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
In other racing, Clay Millican (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were the provisional No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the 18th of 24 events on the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Torrence ran a 3.673-second pass at 329.50 mph to defeat Tony Schumacher’s 3.680 pass at 330.31 in his U.S. Army dragster during the specialty event final round to win the $100,000 prize. It was Torrence’s third Traxxas Shootout finals appearance and first win.
“This is just the icing on the cake; to go to Indy and be able to race in the Traxxas Shootout,” Torrence said. “Thanks to Mike Jenkins and all those guys at Traxxas that put this on. This is an unbelievable deal. When you come out here and you race for 100,000 grand and it’s a race-within-a-race, the competition level is at its highest. It’s the baddest eight guys in drag racing and when you go up there you have to bring you’re a-game every lap and we were able to come out with a win.”
Millican set the Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis Top Fuel elapsed-time record during the third of five qualifying sessions when he put up a 3.663 run at 329.10 in his Parts Plus / Great Clips dragster.
“I’m glad to be up here tonight. I know we have two more runs tomorrow,” Millican said. “I’m just so proud of (crew chief) David Grubnic and (assistant crew chief) Mac Savage and all the guys that work on that car. They’re the ones who should be up here talking, not me. They deserve all the credit, not me. I didn’t even look at the Christmas tree. My job on a run like that is to do everything a driver is supposed to do to give the race team everything they want from a driver.”
Leah Pritchett is in the No. 2 spot with her 3.667 run at 329.50 in her Papa John’s dragster from Friday and Torrence is in third.
Hagan leads the Funny Car field heading into day three of qualifying with his track record run of 3.799 at 338.77 in the Mopar Express Lanes Dodge Charger R/T during Friday’s opening qualifying run.
“I think everyone was surprised we didn’t improve,” Hagan said. “Last night was really killer, tonight was pretty killer. You lay the runs over each other and they’re identical. It’s just wild. You’re up there splitting hairs to make these cars run. It’s a real fine line. A little here and a little there makes such a difference. We got us a hot rod though, man. It’s running good, knock on wood, with three good runs in a row. It builds confidence.”
National record holder Robert Hight and his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro is currently second with teammates Courtney Force following in third and John Force in fourth.
In Pro Stock Anderson ran a 6.561 pass at 210.11 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro in the third qualifying round to take over the No. 1 spot from rookie Tanner Gray.
“I’m a little bit surprised,” Anderson said. “The weather conditions are great out there but not nearly what they were yesterday. Quite honestly, the class as a whole kind of missed yesterday. We knew that even though the weather conditions were off today if we made a better quality run we could get close and have a chance. It took a very high-quality run. We made a beautiful run and I didn’t leave much on the table.”
Gray is in the second position with his 6.566 pass at 209.88 in his Gray Motorsports / Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro from Friday evening and Drew Skillman, who has three wins this season, is in third with a 6.570 at 209.33 in his Ray Skillman Chevrolet Camaro.
Krawiec raced to the top of the Pro Stock Motorcycle category with a 6.822 pass at 196.62 on his Screamin’ Eagle / Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson during his third qualifying run to bump teammate Andrew Hines to the second spot.
“Our bikes are performing well,” said Krawiec, who won the event in 2014. “We’ve made a lot of different chassis changes as the season has gone forward. It’s been a little bit of a challenge, a little bit of a struggle, but we’ve finally felt that we’ve turned the corner. That’s a tribute to our crew. It takes a lot of effort out here. It’s not one person, I just happen to be the individual on the motorcycle.”
Hines’ 6.825 pass at 194.74 from Friday night keeps him above Matt Smith who ran a 6.840 at 196.02 in the third session and is in the current No. 3 spot.
The third and final day of qualifying at the 63rd Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals begins Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Catch the action live at noon and 5 p.m. on FOX Sports 1 (FS1).