Torrence Back on Top at Summit Racing NHRA National
With track conditions heating up, NHRA race fans turned out in record numbers at Summit Motorsports Park for the twelfth race of the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drag racing legend Connie Kalitta was acknowledged during pre-race ceremonies with a flyover from a B-17 Flying Fortress named Yankee Lady. As a well-known Michigan aviator, Kalitta was recently inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame. The flyover was provided by the Yankee Air Museum, who nominated Kalitta for the state's highest aviation honor.
After losing last weekend's final round in Top Fuel to Mike Salinas, Steve Torrence rebounded to celebrate his sixth win of the twelve races run during the 2019 season. The driver of the CAPCO Contractors Top Fuel dragster increased his won-loss record to 33-6 for the year with the overall win at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals over 73-year old Pat Dakin. Torrence wasn't even born when Dakin scored his last Top Fuel victory back in 1973, or when he finished second to Shirley Muldowney in 1977. After his fourth straight runner-up finish for the world championship, Dakin was severely injured in a wheelstand blow over in Topeka and missed the next decade of racing.
Dakin drove his Commercial Metal Fabrication dragster to round wins over Terry McMillen and Leah Pritchett on his way to meet Steve Torrence in the finale. Dakin was fortunate in the semifinal when his ride back-fired the blower after Leah Pritchett had lost traction early in the run and could not recover in time. It was Pat Dakin's first final round in more than twenty years. Torrence eliminated Jordan Vandergriff with a 3.70-second ET to Vandergriff's 3.74 ET before laying down a 3.83 to defeat Doug Kalitta. It was a meeting of the most recent world champions when Torrence posted a 3.82 to beat low-qualifier Brittany Force. It was Torrence's 300th career round win.
Bob Tasca III was a happy man on Sunday at Norwalk. After waiting seven years since his last Funny Car win NHRA, Tasca defeated Jack Beckman in the final round at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals for his second Wally in two weeks time. In round one, Tasca relied on his Motorcraft Shelby Mustany to knock off Matt Hagan then, defeated Paul Lee in round two. In the semifinals, Tasca played the role of spoiler for a second straight week and denied John Force another trip to final round. Beckman earned his way by defeating Jonnie Lindberg, Shawn Langdon and his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. to reach his 59th final round.
The 2019 Mello Yello Drag Racing series continues at the NHRA New England Nationals, July 5-7 at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire.