By Ken Roberts

 

MADISON _ With one exception, whenever Billy Torrence has faced his son Steve in the finals of the Top Fuel category of the NHRA Mello Yello Series, Steve Torrence has always been able to talk the talk.

Billy Torrence, 61, of Kilgore, Texas, changed that Sunday afternoon when he beat his son in the finals of the eighth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

The race was the second of the Countdown to the Championship.

“It’s good to get one over Steve,” Billy Torrence said. “I’m here by invitation only. This is Mama K’s (Billy’s wife Kay) team.”

For the record, Steve Torrence had won six of the seven matchups with his Dad and it was only the second time the two had faced each other in the finals. Of course, Steve Torrence was victorious.

But on Sunday, Billy turned the tables beating his son all the way down the track going 3.835 seconds at 319.67 miles per hour to Steve’s 4.374/195.93 mph.

As for the smack talk, Steve owns the rights to the talk, but Billy will have his say until the next Countdown race in Charlotte in two weeks. Before Sunday’s final, though, Steve was at his best.

“We are in constant communication,” said Billy Torrence, who won for the third time this season. “He ridicules me all the time. Yeah there is a lot of smack talking between us. He said I’m probably fixin’ to get me arrested from old man abuse.

“But I’ll probably get after him. We’ve got about an hour and 15 minute ride home and I’ll probably get after him. I’ll probably talk all the way home.”

To reach the final, No. 2-seeded Billy Torrence had to beat Kyle Wurtzel, current points leader Doug Kalitta and Leah Pritchett, while Steve Torrence, the fifth seed, took down Scott Palmer, Pat Dakin and No. 1 qualifier Mike Salinas.

“It’s pretty humbling to have this success,” said Billy Torrence, who is a full time pipe layer for his company CapCo. “I’m the weak link as a part-time driver. It’s tough to come out here after working six-seven days a week laying pipe and then drag race.”

With his second-place showing, defending race and world champion Steve Torrence closed the points gap with Kalitta and trails by two, 2,232-2,230. Salinas is third with 2,191 points, while Billy Torrence is ninth (2,152).

Funny Car

Shawn Langdon, who qualified 10th, turned what looked like a sure second-round loss to a win over Jim Campbell enroute to the second Funny Car victory of his career when he defeated No. 8 qualifier and Kalitta Motorsports teammate J.R. Todd.

“What an incredible day,” Langdon said. “We didn’t have a fast race car, we had a consistent race car.”

As for his race against Campbell, Langdon wasn’t sure if he would catch Campbell after beat him off the starting line with a reaction time of .062 seconds to Langdon’s .086.

But, at about half-track, Campbell had motor issues and the car shut off. Meanwhile, Langdon, who spun the starts just off the line, was able to get back in the throttle.

“I saw him having some issues,” Langdon said. “By the time I was trying to get full throttle….I was tracking him and I could see I was going to get there first.”

Regarding his race with Todd, Langdon knew his engine was hurting, but he wasn’t about to shut it down.

“I hit the gas and I heard that motor was laboring,” he said. “But it’s the final round in the countdown and I’m not lifting for nothing.”

Langdon had to get by Tommy Johnson Jr., Campbell and Bob Tasca III to reach the finals, while Todd beat Jack Beckman, top qualifier John Force and points leader Robert Hight.

In the race for the championship, Hight holds a 13-point advantage over teammate Force, 2,235-2,222 with Beckman in third (2,211). Langdon is seventh (2,155).

Langdon, a former Top Fuel champion, joined Gary Scelzi as the only drivers to win at Gateway/WWTR in both Top Fuel and Funny Car.

Pro Stock

After three runner-up finishes this season, Erica Enders finally won her first race of the season when she beat Matt Hartford in the finals.

“We had a really great race car,” she said. “I knew my guys had me today.”

Enders, who drives an Elite Motorsports Camaro, had the best and fastest car all weekend long. Save for a helmet issue during the first round of qualifying on Friday, Enders was on top in the final three qualifying sessions and proudly proclaimed after she solidified her No. 1 qualifying spot on Saturday that she had the “baddest race car on the property.”

On Sunday, she backed that proclamation up by taking down Alan Prusiensky, Aaron Stanfield and Chris McGaha to reach the finals. Hartford beat Kenny Delco, points leader Jason Line and Bo Butner.

“It is kind of crazy that it is our first win of the year,” Enders said. “It’s all coming together at the right time. You’ve got to trust in God’s timing and trust the process. “It feels like it’s been an eternity since we won in 2018 (spring Charlotte race).

“You do this long enough, to go through the valleys that we’ve gone through, you wonder if (winning) is going to happen again. We just continue to put our heads down. This win means a lot to our entire program.”

Enders’ victory moved her into second place in the points championship as she trails Line 2,254-2243. Butner is third (2,232).

Pro Stock Motorcycle

It only took Karen Stoffer four years and three months to win her first race and ninth of her career when she defeated points leader Andrew Hines off the starting line. Stoffer’s last victory came at Norwalk, Ohio on July 5, 2015.

Stoffer, who qualified ninth on her Suzuki, had the toughest draw of the day to reach the final. First she had to beat Ryan Oehler, then take down No. 4 in points in Matt Smith, No. 3 in points in Eddie Krawiec before facing Hines.

“I really don’t feel the pressure out there against any one team,” she said. “Every single team is phenomenal. So I listen to the guys, I listen to the team and I just did what I was doing.”

The triumph moved Stoffer, who didn’t plan on racing this season, into second place in the points, 34 behind Hines, 2,266-2,232.

Additionally, Stoffer and Enders became the only two women in NHRA history to win Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle at the same event.

Pro Mod

Sixty-five-year-old Rickie Smith, of King, North Carolina, defeated Bahrain1 teammate Steve Jackson, of Evans, Georgia, in the finals of the E3 Spark Plugs Series.

Smith, the top qualifier, had to beat Alex Laughlin, Michael Biehle II and Mike Castellana to get to the finals. Jackson, the No. 2 qualifier, took down Carl Stevens, Mike Janis and Todd Tutterow.

“Guys it’s pretty awesome to be fighting with these guys,” said an emotional Smith.

MADISON, Ill. — Final finish order (1-16) at the eighth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway.  The race is the 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
TOP FUEL:
1.  Billy Torrence; 2.  Steve Torrence; 3.  Mike Salinas; 4.  Leah Pritchett; 5.  Doug Kalitta; 6. Austin Prock; 7.  Pat Dakin; 8.  Terry McMillen; 9.  T.J. Zizzo; 10.  Clay Millican; 11.  Brittany Force; 12.  Kyle Wurtzel; 13.  Cameron Ferre; 14.  Richie Crampton; 15.  Antron Brown; 16.  Scott Palmer.
FUNNY CAR:
1.  Shawn Langdon; 2.  J.R. Todd; 3.  Bob Tasca III; 4.  Robert Hight; 5.  Tim Wilkerson; 6.  Ron Capps; 7.  John Force; 8.  Jim Campbell; 9.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 10.  Jack Beckman; 11.  Blake Alexander; 12.  Bob Bode; 13.  Matt Hagan; 14.  Jonnie Lindberg; 15.  Cruz Pedregon; 16.  Terry Haddock.
PRO STOCK:
1.  Erica Enders; 2.  Matt Hartford; 3.  Chris McGaha; 4.  Bo Butner; 5.  Aaron Stanfield; 6.  Jeg Coughlin; 7.  Greg Anderson; 8.  Jason Line; 9.  Deric Kramer; 10.  Kenny Delco; 11.  Alex Laughlin; 12.  Fernando Cuadra; 13.  Fernando Cuadra Jr.; 14.  Alan Prusiensky; 15.  Val Smeland; 16.  Steve Graham.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:
1.  Karen Stoffer; 2.  Andrew Hines; 3.  Steve Johnson; 4.  Eddie Krawiec; 5.  Matt Smith; 6. Angie Smith; 7.  Angelle Sampey; 8.  Hector Arana Jr; 9.  Hector Arana; 10.  Kelly Clontz; 11. Jerry Savoie; 12.  Michael Ray; 13.  Ryan Oehler; 14.  Andie Rawlings; 15.  Scotty Pollacheck; 16. Jianna Salinas.
MADISON, Ill. — Sunday’s final results from the eighth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway. The race is the 20th of 24 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel — Billy Torrence, 3.835 seconds, 319.67 mph  def. Steve Torrence, 4.374 seconds, 195.93 mph.
Funny Car — Shawn Langdon, Toyota Camry, 4.068, 310.41  def. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.276, 223.32.
Pro Stock — Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.598, 208.36  def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.621, 207.30.
Pro Stock Motorcycle — Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.869, 197.74  def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.876, 196.59.
Competition Eliminator — David Billingsley, Chevy Camaro, 8.123, 157.34  def. Travis Gusso, Chevy Cobalt, 8.637, 154.90.
Super Stock — Justin Jenkins, Chevy Cobalt, 9.561, 134.90  def. Brandon Bakies, Chevy Camaro, 9.696, 137.98.
Stock Eliminator — Brina Frank, Chevy Camaro, 9.306, 134.55  def. Chris Knudsen, Camaro, 10.585, 119.71.
Super Comp — Christopher Dodd, Dragster, 8.910, 180.84  def. Lynn Ellison, Dragster, Foul – Red Light.
Super Gas — Mark Buttrum, Olds Lumina, 9.920, 153.28  def. Veron Rowland, Olds Calais, 9.910, 157.93.
Factory Stock Showdown — David Kramer, Chevy Camaro, 8.022, 170.41  def. Arthur Kohn, Camaro, 8.013, 169.30.
Top Sportsman presented by RacingRVs.com — Mark McDonald, Ford Mustang, 6.641, 201.70  def. Allen Firestone, Chevy Camaro, 6.611, 210.34.
Pro Modified — Rickie Smith, Chevy Camaro, 5.768, 252.19  def. Steve Jackson, Camaro, 7.413, 113.99.
MADISON, Ill. — Final round-by-round results from the eighth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway, the 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:
TOP FUEL:
ROUND ONE — Terry McMillen, 3.781, 323.81 def. Clay Millican, 3.801, 326.08; Pat Dakin, 3.793, 327.27 def. Brittany Force, 3.802, 294.31; Austin Prock, 3.744, 326.00 def. T.J. Zizzo, 3.769, 329.75; Billy Torrence, 3.793, 326.08 def. Kyle Wurtzel, 3.908, 274.22; Mike Salinas, 3.733, 328.70 def. Cameron Ferre, 4.011, 300.66; Steve Torrence, 3.746, 325.77 def. Scott Palmer, Broke; Leah Pritchett, 3.764, 326.87 def. Antron Brown, 6.001, 116.41; Doug Kalitta, 4.285, 248.48 def. Richie Crampton, 5.086, 136.25;
QUARTERFINALS — B. Torrence, 3.801, 321.12 def. Kalitta, 3.827, 323.04; S. Torrence, 3.784, 323.58 def. Dakin, 4.656, 164.31; Pritchett, 3.835, 321.88 def. Prock, 3.925, 309.06; Salinas, 3.773, 325.22 def. McMillen, 5.250, 137.39;
SEMIFINALS — B. Torrence, 3.769, 322.96 def. Pritchett, 5.290, 132.79; S. Torrence, 3.805, 324.59 def. Salinas, 3.937, 312.13;
FINAL — B. Torrence, 3.835, 319.67 def. S. Torrence, 4.374, 195.93.
FUNNY CAR:
ROUND ONE — Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.921, 331.85 def. Bob Bode, Ford Mustang, 4.013, 320.36; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.920, 328.22 def. Cruz Pedregon, Dodge Charger, 5.588, 129.10; John Force, Camaro, 3.939, 326.08 def. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 9.152, 77.06; Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.197, 249.39 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.204, 265.06; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.966, 328.86 def. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.997, 319.29; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.915, 325.14 def. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 5.162, 158.52; Shawn Langdon, Toyota Camry, 3.907, 330.47 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger,
3.898, 324.44; J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.954, 327.27 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.944, 326.56;
QUARTERFINALS — Todd, 3.986, 326.56 def. Force, 4.870, 169.55; Langdon, 5.875, 253.52 def. Campbell, 6.940, 93.59; Tasca III, 3.947, 321.19 def. Wilkerson, 4.012, 315.56; Hight, 3.988, 323.27 def. Capps, 4.272, 225.52;
SEMIFINALS — Todd, 3.979, 325.37 def. Hight, 12.733, 62.18; Langdon, 3.953, 323.50 def. Tasca III, 3.976, 323.04;
FINAL — Langdon, 4.068, 310.41 def. Todd, 4.276, 223.32.
PRO STOCK:
ROUND ONE — Aaron Stanfield, Chevy Camaro, 6.623, 207.30 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.618, 207.53; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.601, 208.23 def. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.637, 207.88; Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.617, 207.62 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.615, 208.33; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.633, 208.33 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.584, 208.91; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.601, 207.78 def. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Camaro, 6.637, 208.30; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.592, 209.14 def. Steve Graham, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.590, 207.78 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart,
6.640, 207.66; Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.603, 207.69 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.646, 207.40;
QUARTERFINALS — McGaha, 6.658, 207.59 def. Anderson, 6.672, 209.56; Butner, 6.638, 207.78 def. Coughlin, 6.630, 207.21; Hartford, 6.644, 207.37 def. Line, 9.100, 103.58; Enders, 6.614, 208.14 def. Stanfield, 6.628, 207.34;
SEMIFINALS — Hartford, 6.643, 207.50 def. Butner, 6.647, 208.39; Enders, 6.628, 207.82 def. McGaha, 6.621, 208.68;
FINAL — Enders, 6.598, 208.36 def. Hartford, 6.621, 207.30.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:
ROUND ONE — Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.911, 195.85 def. Ryan Oehler, 7.037, 193.52; Hector Arana Jr, 6.935, 194.77 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.971, 195.31; Angie Smith, 6.934, 195.03 def. Hector Arana, 6.951, 194.02; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.872, 195.39 def. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.967, 191.84; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.872, 195.22 def. Michael Ray, 7.018, 190.54; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.854, 195.73 def. Andie Rawlings, Suzuki, 7.121, 185.87; Matt Smith, 6.902, 197.77 def. Jianna Salinas, Suzuki, 11.986, 67.85; Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 6.907, 194.83 def. Scotty Pollacheck, 9.873, 86.58;
QUARTERFINALS — Stoffer, 6.916, 196.30 def. M. Smith, Foul – Red Light; Hines, 6.895, 195.17 def. A. Smith, 6.926, 193.88; Johnson, 6.914, 194.07 def. Sampey, Foul – Red Light; Krawiec, 6.892, 195.59 def. Arana Jr, 7.011, 193.63;
SEMIFINALS — Hines, 6.916, 195.42 def. Johnson, 6.892, 193.90; Stoffer, 6.921, 195.59 def. Krawiec, 6.927, 194.38;
FINAL — Stoffer, 6.869, 197.74 def. Hines, 6.876, 196.59.
MADISON, Ill. — Point standings (top 10) following the eighth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway, the 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
Top Fuel
1.  Doug Kalitta, 2,232; 2.  Steve Torrence, 2,230; 3.  Mike Salinas, 2,191; 4.  Brittany Force, 2,184; 5.  Leah Pritchett, 2,170; 6.  (tie) Antron Brown, 2,159; Richie Crampton, 2,159; 8.  Austin Prock, 2,153; 9.  Billy Torrence, 2,152; 10.  Clay Millican, 2,125.
Funny Car
1.  Robert Hight, 2,235; 2.  John Force, 2,222; 3.  Jack Beckman, 2,211; 4.  Ron Capps, 2,191; 5. J.R. Todd, 2,182; 6.  Bob Tasca III, 2,156; 7.  Shawn Langdon, 2,155; 8.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,138; 9.  Matt Hagan, 2,132; 10.  Tim Wilkerson, 2,109.
Pro Stock
1.  Jason Line, 2,254; 2.  Erica Enders, 2,243; 3.  Bo Butner, 2,232; 4.  Matt Hartford, 2,197; 5. Alex Laughlin, 2,171; 6.  Jeg Coughlin, 2,160; 7.  Greg Anderson, 2,147; 8.  Deric Kramer, 2,132; 9.  Chris McGaha, 2,113; 10.  Val Smeland, 2,062.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1.  Andrew Hines, 2,266; 2.  Karen Stoffer, 2,232; 3.  Eddie Krawiec, 2,215; 4.  Matt Smith, 2,205; 5.  Jerry Savoie, 2,200; 6.  Hector Arana Jr, 2,169; 7.  Angelle Sampey, 2,136; 8.  Angie Smith, 2,116; 9.  Ryan Oehler, 2,075; 10.  Hector Arana, 2,064.