Reigning Top Fuel champ Steve Torrence won his first of the season, Shawn Langdon his first in the Funny Car class, and Andrew Hines his 50th in Pro Stock Motorcycle to highlight a wild day of final eliminations at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, NC.
Torrence, winless since capturing six straight wins to end the 2018 season, drove his dragster to three consecutive 3.7-second passes Sunday to capture the win and vault himself into the points lead. In the final round, Torrence’s 3.77 finished ahead of Clay Millican, Terry McMillen, and Leah Pritchett.
The victory is Torrence’s third straight at the event and his 32nd career win (28 in Top Fuel; four in Alcohol Dragster).
Langdon, a former world champion and 14-time winner in Top Fuel, scored his first in Funny Car in just his 30th start in the class. At the wheel of his Toyota, Langdon won a final-round nailbuter, eking past low qualifier Robert Hight at the finish line for the victory. John Force finished third; and Matt Hagan, fourth.
The victory was the 22nd of Langdon’s career, which also includes wins in Super Comp, where he also was a world champion, and Super Gas. Langdon’s victory also allowed him to join his Kalitta Motorsports teammates—Doug Kalitta, Richie Crampton, and J.R. Todd
—as winners this season.
Hines became just the 19th driver in NHRA history to reach the 50-win mark and the first to do it in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Hines finished first, beating his Harley-Davidson teammate, Eddie Krawiec, handing him his sixth runner-up (without a win) in four-wide competition. Hector Arana Jr., winner of the recent four-wide event in Las Vegas, finished third with Ryan Oehler in fourth.
The win was Hines’ second victory this season after scoring at the PSM season opener in Gainesville, FL.
Torrence Wins Top Fuel
“Richard Hogan, Bobby Lagana, and all of them Capco boys just instill confidence in you; I hadn’t been driving the most confidently lately—maybe on the defensive side—so I changed my mindset and went out there and did what I know how to do. We hadn’t had the car we had in the Countdown but it’s not because of anything other than trying some things.
“This hasn’t been the start to the season that we wanted, but in the scheme of things we were still third in the points. We’ve had a lot of success here at zMAX; at first I didn’t like the four-wide, but I have retracted that statement. I like racing here. We could race all of them here if you guys didn’t care. It’s good to turn the tables.”
Langdon Wins Funny Car
“There are so many things I’ve gone through to get to this point, but it’s the people I’ve been surrounded by and the chance to race for a legend like Connie Kalitta. And to have a guy like J.R. Todd as a teammate and working with [crew chief] Nicky Boninfante who’s been out here for years and bringing in Del Worsham was a big key factor. My dad has been fighting some health issues and I told him I was going to win a Wally for him, and we did. He’s healthy, beat cancer, got a liver transplant; it’s all good. I can’t wait to give him the trophy.
“To beat the guys we did in the final was special. I was .069 and left fourth. That shows you how good everyone is and how hungry they are. I hit the gas and the car was not really running well, just kind of petering down there, but I looked out to my left and didn’t see anyone. I saw the blinking [win] light, which I hadn’t seen today because I’d been second, which is a solid light, so I thought, ‘Damn, we might have won.’ No one would answer the radio so it wasn’t until I turned the corner and they pointed me to the [TV interview] side that I knew.”
Hines Wins Pro Stock Motorcycle
“The day went pretty good. As it got hotter and hotter, the conditions got tougher and tougher. Fortunately, our crew is good at persevering because not one round this weekend was similar to others. I missed tune-up in the first round but made up for that later on and we worked our way to the second round where we had that wacky round.
On the semifinal re-run: “I was staging and I could see the light flicker in lane three. I didn’t know what the heck was going on. I was all staged so I turned the throttle and the red-light came on. I was not sure exactly what the malfunction was. At the top end, I was interested to see if we’d get a re-run. Thankfully we did but that’s something that has never happened in my career. I just saw all those blue lights flashing and it looked like I was getting pulled over by the cops. When we got the word about the re-run, we had the bike ready in 30 minutes.”
“In the final, we all did our normal job of staging. When I left I knew I didn’t get all of it. I could tell Eddie was making a good run. I was tucked in and started thinking he’d better not drive around me. I got there by a hundredth. This was a big day for our Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle team. There was definitely no shortage of emotions in my head every round today.”
The 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues with the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, GA, May 3-5.
NHRA Pro Stock Point Standings
1. Bo Butner 301
2. Alex Laughlin 229
3. Jason Line 189
4. Erica Enders 186
5. Matt Hartford 185
NHRA Funny Car Point Standings
1. Robert Hight 582
2. Matt Hagan 440
3. John Force 417
4. Jack Beckman 394
4. J.R. Todd 394
NHRA Top Fuel Point Standings
1. Steve Torrence 460
2. Doug Kalitta 426
3. Clay Millican 394
4. Mike Salinas 384
5. Brittany Force 382
NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Point Standings
1. Andrew Hines 319
2. Eddie Krawiec 281
3. Hector Arana Jr. 278
4. Matt Smith 204
5. Ryan Oehler 158
Drag Race Central and NHRA contributed to this report.