No, this isn’t déjà vu or a glitch in the Matrix. We don’t think. But sure looked like it the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway Sunday in Commerce, GA.
Steve Torrence in Top Fuel and LE Tonglet in Pro Stock Motorcycle won for the second-consecutive race. Defending Funny Car champion Ron Capps won his third-consecutive race.
And Pro Stock’s Bo Butner must have missed the memo since he spoiled the consecutive-win party by waiting two events to earn his second career NHRA Wally.
Butner, who made his Pro Stock debut at Atlanta in 2015, powered his Jim Butner’s Auto Chevy Camaro to the second victory of his career after a 6.569 pass at 211.26 that bettered two-time world champion Erica Enders. Enders raced her Chevy Camaro to a 6.593 pass at 210.97 in her first final round appearance since Las Vegas 2 in 2015.
“You have to have a lot of trust in your car,” Butner said. “I’m happy in this car and happy with this team. We’ve had the car to win with for the last year and a half. Now, it’s all just coming together and I’m doing my job.”
Butner defeated Wally Stroupe, Vincent Nobile, and Jeg Coughlin Jr. before facing Enders in the finals. Enders lined up against Alan Prusiensky, defending Pro Stock champ Jason Line, and Tanner Gray en route to her final-round appearance.
Capps Makes it Three in a Row
Defending world champion Capps raced a 3.991-second pass at 317.79 mph in his Dodge Charger R/T to defeat Tim Wilkerson in his Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang. This is Capps’ second victory at Atlanta Dragway and 52nd of his Funny Car career.
“It’s a pinch me moment,” Capps stated. “The car speaks for itself lately. This was probably one of the more difficult race tracks to navigate. You really had to be ready for two or three different sets of bumps. It makes for an exciting run but you’re just hoping, at the same time, that your car stays in the groove. Funny Car is just getting tougher and tougher.”
Capps sailed passed J.R. Todd, 16-time world champion John Force and Robert Hight, who set the track elapsed time record with his 3.880 pass in the semifinals, en route to the victory. Wilkerson faced rookie Jonnie Lindberg, Jack Beckman and Matt Hagan before seeing Capps in his first final round appearance of the season.
Torrence Wins Top Fuel (Again)
Top Fuel driver Steve Torrence piloted his dragster to the winners circle back-to-back races after a 3.745 pass at 320.81 to defeat U.S. Army driver Tony Schumacher. This is Torrence’s third consecutive final-round appearance.
“The racecar I have right now is the best racecar that I’ve ever had in my life,” Torrence said. “My driving is showing that I’m confident in it. The continuity of my team has what it takes to win championships. We’ve got a chip on our shoulder and a point to prove.”
Torrence pushed past Smax Smith, Shawn Langdon and Top Fuel points leader Leah Pritchett before facing Schumacher in the finals. Schumacher defeated Brittany Force, Bob Vandergriff and Doug Kalitta before falling to Torrence.
During eliminations, Pritchett set the elapsed time track record with a pass of 3.699, while teammate Brown set the track speed record of 329.91 mph.
Longlet Wins Pro Stock Motorcycle (Again)
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Tonglet raced to back-to-back wins this season after he rode his Suzuki to a 6.843 pass at 194.35 defeating teammate and defending world champion, Jerry Savoie. This is Tonglet’s 12th career win and second at Atlanta Dragway.
“I’ve got a great group of guys behind me who get the bike back to running in no time,” Tonglet said. “To be able to go to the third race of the season and get both of ’em (bikes) in the final round; it is just unbelievable. This won’t be the last time both bikes are in the finals and we’re going to put on a good show.”
Tonglet raced past Cory Reed, Andrew Hines and Scott Pollacheck before entering the final round. Savoie defeated Matt Smith, Hector Arana Jr. and top qualifier Eddie Krawiec on his way to the finals.
The 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues at the 29th annual Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties May 19-21 at Heartland Park Topeka.
NHRA Pro Stock Point Standings
1. Greg Anderson 586 2. Bo Butner 585 3. Jason Line 515 4. Tanner Gray 496 5. Jeg Coughlin 495
NHRA Funny Car Point Standings
1. Ron Capps 633 2. Matt Hagan 539 3. John Force 490 4. Robert Hight 437 5. Tommy Johnson Jr. 427
NHRA Top Fuel Point Standings
1. Leah Pritchett 641 2. Tony Schumacher 627 3. Steve Torrence 592 4. Antron Brown 560 5. Doug Kalitta 486
NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Point Standings
1. Eddie Krawiec 306 2. LE Tonglet 291 3. Andrew Hines 230 4. Jerry Savoie 204 5. Scotty Pollacheck 196
Drag Race Central and NHRA contributed to this report.