Part Time Driver Captures Top Honors at AAA Texas Fall Nationals
Without doubt, when Top Fuel pilot Billy Torrence has enough time to go racing, he may be the fastest part-time drag racer on the planet. This past weekend at Fall Nationals near Dallas the founder of the CAPCO Contractors race team claimed his fourth victory of the season in his sixth final round appearance, which is incredible when you consider he raced only 14 of the 22 Top Fuel events during the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series. But, INCREDIBLE is one of the words that comes to mind when you're talking about the Kilgore-native Billy and his son Steve. Billy's strategy all year has been to score enough victories to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship ten-driver field, which he did.
After qualifying for the Fall Nationals was complete, it appeared that Brittany Force had the car to beat. Her Advance Auto Parts dragster seemed just as fast in the cool Texas air as it did during the heat of the day. The junior Torrence added three valuable points to his championship points lead during qualifying but Steve lost in round one to a very fast Shawn Reed's 3.728 ET at 327.77 mph. Father Billy would eliminate Reed to advance to a semifinal shootout with Brittany Force. Rookie Jordan Vandergriff eliminated Clay Millican, Lee Callaway and Austin Prock to meet up with Billy Torrence in the final. The senior Torrence overcame a slow reaction time at the tree to claim the Wally in Top Fuel.
John Force got a hero's welcome when he was introduced to the Texas crowd as the Number One qualifier in Funny Car for the 160th time at a NHRA event. Nonetheless, at the end of the day, Matt Hagan driving for the legendary Don Schumacher racing returned to the winner's circle for the third time during the NHRA Mello Yello season. It was the first win for the former Funny Car world champion since Epping in early summer but puts the driver of the MATCO Tools ride right back in the thick of the points hunt. Bob Tasca III finished as runner up in Funny Car after defeating Jonnie Lindberg, Fast Jack Beckman and the legendary John Force. Hagan also eliminated Blake Alexander, J.R. Todd and Robert Hight on his way to the finals.
The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues Oct. 31 through Nov. 3 with the penultimate race in the Countdown for the Championship playoffs at the Dodge NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.