NHRA’s penultimate 2018 season race held at Las Vegas is a title clinching affair….

Texan Steve Torrence continued his truly amazing winning streak with the end result being winning his first Top Fuel world championship.

The driver of the Capco Contractors-sponsored Top Fuel dragster ran his playoff round race record to 5-0 and scored his 10th victory of the year overall during the Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. For Torrence, who suffered a heart wrenching 2nd place finish in final points last season, this event victory was a season points title clinching performance.

J.R. Todd (Funny Car), Bo Butner (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also winners in their respective Professional NHRA Mello Yello Series categories.

Torrence continued his impressive pace in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship where he has yet to lose a round of racing since the playoffs began. He earned his first world championship during the semifinals when he defeated Richie Crampton. Torrence went on to get his fifth consecutive win when he bested Leah Pritchett with a run of 3.751-seconds at 326.32 mph.

Steve Torrence (who came agonizingly close to winning the NHRA World title last year) was successful in his 2018 Championship quest.

“This is a lifelong goal right here,” said Torrence. “All the glory goes to God, my mom and dad, because without them none of this would be even be possible. Every one of those Capco boys on that race team because they put their heart in it and it is hard to beat people with heart. All the boys back home at Capco, we got it done guys. This is unreal. To all those people who said we couldn’t do it, we are here.”

Steve Torrence (far lane) kept his astounding undefeated playoffs record in tact when he beat Leah Pritchett in the TF final.

In Funny Car, Todd powered to his fifth win of the year in his DHL Toyota Camry and in doing so took over the category points lead. He defeated Matt Hagan in the finals with his winning run of 3.921 at 318.39. He now has a 74-point lead over defending world champion Robert Hight who had a first round loss. This is the seventh Funny Car win for Todd, the 16th in his career and his second win at the facility this season.

JR Todd won this fuel FC final over Matt Hagan at Las Vegas and with that now leads in points heading to the season finale race at Pomona.

“It is so awesome to drive a car like that when it is that consistent,” said Todd. “You don’t have to worry about if you are going to have to go out there and pedal it or things like that. You can go up there and smack the tree as hard as you can and keep that thing stuck down the groove. It is a lot of fun to drive. We still have some unfinished business in Pomona. Hopefully we can go there and come out of it with two trophies.”

Todd raced to his fourth final round in the Countdown to the Championship with victories against Robert Townsend, teammate Shawn Langdon and Jack Beckman.

Butner the 2017 Pro Stock world champion, grabbed his second win of the year defeating Erica Enders with a run of 6.657 at 207.43 in his Jim Butner’s Auto Chevrolet Camaro. This was his fifth final round at the facility in the past four seasons.

“We started off like gangbusters, win in Pomona, ran good at Gainesville and thought we had another repeat deal coming,” said Butner. “We struggled a little bit as every team does. I kept saying this weekend this is perfect. This car showed improvement every run. I’m very happy we got to win again, win a couple of rounds, much less win the race. This Pro Stock deal is amazing. Everybody in the top 12 qualifiers can win.”

Defending 2017 NHRA Pro Stock champion Bo Butner (near lane) defeated Erica Endres in the Las Vegas Toyota Nationals final round.

Points leader Tanner Gray raced to a semifinal finish when he was defeated by Enders. He as a 140 point lead heading into the final race of the season.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana Jr. was the top qualifier for the event and won his third race of the year when he defeated defending world champion Eddie Krawiec in the finals. On his Lucas Oil Buell he raced to a winning run of 6.885 at 193.35 for this 14th win in his career and his first at the Strip.

Racing for Lucas Oil – Hector Arana Jr was both the top qualifier and the event winner for Pro Stock motorcycle.

“We did a great job qualifying and that sent the tone for today,” said Arana. “It gave me the confidence I needed. I had great lights in qualifying and did it again today on race day. Great preparation and everything came back together. We just want to qualify well, win rounds and win races.”

With the win, Arana moves to fourth in the points and trials points leader Matt Smith by 64 markers. Krawiec jumps to second, only four behind Smith and LE Tonglet is third, 61 out of first.

Brazilian Brilliance

South America’s Sidnei Frigo, from Brazil, prevailed to win the final E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod drag racing series event of the season.

In the final round Sidnei Frigo faced Mike Castellana and raced to the win with a run of 5.756-seconds at 256.50 mph to the trailing run of 5.861 at 249.49 for Castellana. This is the first win of the season for Frigo.

Brazil’s Sidnei Frigo raced his turbocharged Camaro to victory in the final Pro Mod class event of the season.

“We had a lot of issues with the car at the beginning of the year.” said Frigo. “Now we fixed the car and it runs great. Next year is going to be a good year.”

Earlier in the day, Western New York’s clinched the very hard fought season points title for the series.

Janis was the points leaders entering the weekend but was defeated in the first round of eliminations by Mike Caruso. Rickie Smith, who was second, advanced to the quarter finals and had an opportunity for him to win his fourth championship if he advanced to the semifinals. Smith was defeated by Rick Hord allowing Janis to claim the crown.

“It hasn’t set in yet,” said Janis. “After losing first round we were all kind of down. Now, just incredible feeling, I can’t explain it. We had a good car all year, we had a good car when we got here, nice and consistent runs. It will sink in in the next hour or so. I’ve won races before but this is the cream of the crop right here. The NHRA pro mod champ, I love it.”

Editor’s Note:  For more detailed coverage of Pro Mod class racing from Las Vegas – visit our VP Racing Fuels Pro Mod Portal subsection: HERE 

The Lucas Oil Lowdown

In the final results from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, Joey Severance, raced to the event win and clinched the NHRA Lucas Oil Top Alcohol Dragster World Championship. Sean Bellemeur continued to dominate the Top Alcohol Funny Car Class.

Joey Severence had a monumental event in the Lucas Oil TAD class. Not only did he win the event (defeating Norway’s Julie Nataas in the final – top) he also clinched his 3rd consecutive NHRA Lucas Oil World Championship.

Severance, Woodburn, Ore., locked up his 4th straight title with a final round pass of 5.266 seconds at 275.28 mph in his final round victory over Julie Nataas, Santa Barbara, Calif., who clocked in at 5.369 seconds, 271.95 mph making this Severance’s 23rd national event win.

Bellemeur, Placentia, Calif, who has already clinched his 2018 Lucas Oil World Championship, faced off with Doug Gordon, Paso Robles, Calif., in the Funny Car final clocking in at 5.517 seconds, 264.65 mph with Gordon right on his heels with 5.488, second, 269.24 mph lap for his runner up finish.

Newly crowed Lucas Oil World Champion Sean Bellemeur continued his relentless winning ways in TAFC racing – with his 7th score of the season!

Chris Stephenson (near lane) topped Jeff Taylor in the Stock eliminator championship dash.

Other racers visiting the winner’s circle this weekend were David Billingsley, Decatur, Ill., in Comp Eliminator; Justin Lamb, Henderson, Nev., in Super Stock; Kevin Wright, Longmont, Colo., in Super Comp and Matt Blodgett, Signal Hill, Calif., in Super Gas.

Kevin Wright (near lane) defeated Canada’s Ken Mostowich in the Super Comp title round.

Posted with files by NHRA Communications and Bruce Biegler
Photos by Phil Hutchison, Auto Imagery and courtesy of NHRA