NHRA

NHRA Wrap-Up: Johnson Jr., Torrence & Enders Win Arizona Nationals

(Image/Marc Gewertz – NHRA National Dragster)

Funny Car veteran Tommy Johnson Jr. added an 18th Wally to his collection at the 36th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, AZ.

Steve Torrence in Top Fuel and Erica Enders Pro Stock also took home wins in their respective categories at the second of 24 events on the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

In an all Don Schumacher Racing final, Johnson went 3.883-seconds at 326.40 miles per hour to defeat teammate Jack Beckman during the final round in his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. He defeated Paul Lee, Bob Tasca ll, and Ron Capps to advance to the finals during Sunday’s event.

“We had a good car,” said Johnson, whose last Phoenix win was in 2006. “The last qualifying run showed us that we have a solid car. Coming up here today, we had a lot of confidence. We went out first round and laid down a solid number. We weren’t low (elapsed time) but we were close. We came out second round and sat low ET so we knew we had a solid car. As a driver, going into each round knowing you have a car that’s going to perform makes your job a little easier. It gives you a little less stress. The guys did a great job. Even in Pomona we a had a good car, just dropped a cylinder second round and event had a little issue with that in qualifying here.”

Torrence Wins Top Fuel

In Top Fuel, defending world champion Torrence picked up his 37th career win and his second in Phoenix after going 3.679 at 321.27 in his dragster.

Torrence defeated Jim Maroney, Shawn Langdon, and dad Billy Torrence to advance to the final round, where he out pedaled Doug Kalitta for the win. Sunday’s win marks Torrence’s first win in his first race of the 2020 season, having missed the season opener in Pomona two weeks ago.

“First round I had a little bit of the jitters,” Torrence said. “We missed Pomona so you came here and this is the first round of the first race of the season for us and I was a little bit nervous to go up there. We’re just going to see how the races go and what the weather throws at us. I think that we’ve always had a good hot weather tune-up. We’re just going to try to develop cool track conditions. We’re easing up to it. We’ll just see how it goes and that’s something that we really need to try to put our thumb on.”

Enders Wins Pro Stock

In Pro Stock, three-time world champion Enders grabbed her first win of the season and the 26th of her career with a 6.531 at 210.44 in her Chevrolet Camaro.

Sunday’s win moves Enders into the top ten for all-time wins in the Pro Stock class. Enders knocked off Fernando Cuadra Jr., Chris McGaha, and Jason Line to advance to the final round where she defeated Bo Butner.

“I’d have to say today was excellent,” Enders said. “Coming in here off of Jeg’s (Coughlin) dominating performance in Pomona, we knew that we just had to get my car happy because we share data obviously. There’s no reason why my car shouldn’t run the same as Jeg’s. Our objective coming in was to just get my car as happy as possible. We tested in Tuscan on Wednesday, so coming in we were definitely optimistic and finally got our act together for that one fun on Saturday. The guys gave me a tremendous race car today. Very consistent, very fast and we just crushed the competition today and it was really fun.”

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series racing action continues to Gainesville, FL on March 12-15 at the 51st annual AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.

NHRA Pro Stock Point Standings

  1.  Erica Enders           203   
  2.  Jeg Couglin            197  
  3.  Jason Line             168   
  4.  Kenny Delco            132   
  5.  Bo Butner              131

NHRA Funny Car Point Standings

  1.  Jack Beckman           220  
  2.  Tommy Johnson Jr.      175
  3.  John Force             173
  4.  Ron Capps              128 
  5.  Matt Hagan             124

NHRA Top Fuel Point Standings

  1.  Doug Kalitta           212
  2.  Brittany Force         153
  3.  Leah Pruett            137
  4.  Austin Prock           131 
  5.  Steve Torrence         121
Drag Race Central and NHRA contributed to this report.
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