Top Fuel racer Steve Torrence concludes a stunning and undefeated NHRA playoff series……

During last weekend’s season concluding Auto Club NHRA Finals in California, Torrence, from Texas, made NHRA history by successfully sweeping all six playoff races during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.

Joined by his Mother and Father in victory lane at Pomona — Steve Torrence celebrates some amazing dominance within NHRA Top Fuel racing!

After locking up the season’s NHRA Top Fuel world championship two weeks prior during the NHRA penultimate season event held at Las Vegas, Torrence capped his truly outstanding season surge by racing his Capco Contractors dragster to a holeshot win of 3.702 at 330.07 against NHRA’s winningest Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher’s run of 3.700 at 331.61 in the final round. This Torrence’s 11th win of the season, 27th of his career and first at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

“It has truly been unbelievable,” Torrence stated. “To go out and do what those Capco Boys have accomplished is solely by the grace of the good Lord. We’ve won some rounds that we probably should not have won. We are truly blessed to be able to do what we’re doing. We’re going to be in the history books. Nobody can beat us; they can only tie us. That’s a pretty cool stat to put behind your name.”

Torrence’s path to victory included wins Cameron Ferre, teammate and father Billy Torrence and 2017 world champion Brittany Force. Schumacher took out Scott Palmer, Bill Litton and Blake Alexander before falling to Torrence in the finals.

J.R. Todd clinched his first career NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car world championship title during the first round of eliminations Sunday at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

Matt Smith also won his third Pro Stock Motorcycle world championship at the final 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event during eliminations on Sunday.

The race winners at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona were Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Todd (Funny Car), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and M. Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For the first time in NHRA history, all of the event winners were also the world champions in their respective categories.

Robert Hight, the defending category champion, was second in points in the category and smoked the tires against Bob Tasca III during the opening round of eliminations which guaranteed the title crown to Todd.

“People kept asking, ‘what do you need to do to clinch?’,” Todd stated. “I’m like, we need to win the race. We need to not worry about what we need to clinch it. Seeing Robert smoke the tires first round was instant relief. My crew was racing smart and the Yella Fellas do an awesome job preparing the thing today. They stayed focused all day long because there were a lot of distractions around our pit area and they did their job. The other teams at Kalitta Motorsports came over to help and I can’t thank them enough. It’s a huge family over there and we’ve all got each other’s backs and it’s awesome to have that kind of support.”

Racing for DHL/Kalitta Racing – JR Todd won both the season ending NHRA event and the Mello Yello World Championship for Funny Cars.

Todd went on to dominate the season ending event with a run of 3.872 at 329.10 taking down the defending two-time event champion Tommy Johnson Jr.’s Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T. He finishes the season with six race wins, the first coming at the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas. Todd also won the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals for the second year in a row and three events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship, two runner-up finishes and a solo No. 1 qualifier.

M. Smith secured his third NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Motorcycle world championship in the final round of eliminations. He powered his Elite Motorsports DENSO Auto Parts EBR to a 6.765 at 201.22 national speed record pass to defeat defending world champion Eddie Krawiec, who was the nearest championship contender. M. Smith defeated Angie Smith, Hector Arana and LE Tonglet en route to the finals to secure the championship and event title. This is his first world championship title since 2013.

In a tension filled Pro Stock Motorcycle final round — Matt Smith (near lane) defeated Eddie Krawiec and with that win light earned the 2018 Mello Yello World Championship title.

“Man, we went through a lot today,” M. Smith said. “With the airline breaking in the first round and in the second round the transmission broke on us going through the lights. My guys did their job and we fixed all of the stuff that broke and ended up putting up three 200 mph runs today. We are having the time of our life right now though.”

M. Smith’s championship season had four race victories with three wins during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship. He secured five No. 1 qualifiers and had a single runner-up finish.

Gray won the Pro Stock portion of the race in his Gray Motorsports Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro with a run of 6.519 at 211.86 to defeat Drew Skillman’s pass of 6.524 at 211.03. The 2018 world champion notched his eighth victory of the season, 13th of his two-year career and first at the Auto Club NHRA Finals.

Tanner Gray — who had already clinched the NHRA Pro Stock title heading into the AAA Auto Finals event — scored his 8th win of the season.

“This was probably the most relaxed Sunday I’ve had ever,” Gray said. “For me, I just wanted to enjoy the moment. That was the last time I was going to race with a lot of those guys. We wrapped up the championship during qualifying and I just wanted to enjoy it. We had already won seven races and that’s really good and obviously I wanted to win more but at the same time I wanted to enjoy the time I had with the guys and make the most out of it.”

Gray drove past his father Shane Gray, Erica Enders and Jason Line before entering his second consecutive final round appearance at the event. Skillman defeated Alan Prusiensky, veteran Greg Anderson and No. 1 qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr. before falling in the finals.

The 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season will kick off with the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals Feb. 7-10 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

Leah Pritchett set low ET of the event at 3.631 secs while qualifying #1.

The Lucas Oil Lowdown

Steve Williams locked up the 2018 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Super Comp World Championship and David Rampy won his 100th NHRA national event this weekend at Auto Club Raceway and the Auto Club NHRA Finals.

Prolific NHRA Lucas Oil Sportsman racer David Rampy earned his record breaking 100th NHRA national event title – when he won Competition eliminator.

Williams, Beaumont, Calif., took the points lead last weekend in Las Vegas and held on as Mark Grame continued to go rounds throughout the weekend but feel one round short as Williams began his celebration. Williams’ championship came on a single win in Sonoma, Calif., combined with final round showings in Dallas, Texas, and in Las Vegas for the year.

Rampy collected his 100th NHRA National event Wally trophy as he knocked out Doug Lambeck in Comp Eliminator. Rampy drove his famed red ’32 Bantam roadster to an 8.318 mph lap at 112.44 mph for the win.

James Stevens and Shane Westerfield took home the wins in Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car respectively. Stevens came from the No. 17 alternate qualifying spot to face off with Julie Nataas in the dragster final. Stevens, Gothenburg, Neb., clicked off a 5.281 at 275.17 to out run Nataas, Santa Barbara, Calif., and her 5.402, 271.19 for his first national event win.

James Stevens upset the TAD program – winning the event from the #16 qualified position.

Outgoing defending 2017 NHRA World Champion Shane Westerfield prevailed in the TAFC category.

Defending series funny car champion Shane Westerfield, Anaheim, Calif., took out Ulf Leanders of Sweden in his final round. Westerfield covered the quarter-mile in 5.446, 271.30 to Leanders’ 6.120, 249.72.

A pair of series hitters took home the honors in Super Stock and Stock as Steve Wann beat out Gary Emmons in Super Stock and Jeff Taylor out ran Ryan Mangus in Stock. Wann, Modesto, Calif., went 9.782 at 131.39 in his ’62 Sport Fury for his win, and Taylor drove his ’15 Camaro to a lap of 9.267 at 143.51.

Racing his vintage Mopar Steve Wann (near lane) beat out Gary Emmons in the Super Stock final round.

Chad Webber and Roger Kato rounded out the winner’s list with Webber taking the win in Super Comp over Tony Helms in his first ever national event final round and Kato winning Super Gas over local racer Greg Ventura of Corona, Calif., for his first win in three finals.

Chad Webber won in the demanding Super Comp 8.90 class category – it was his first NHRA national event level win.

Piloting his FS/B classed COPO – Jeff Taylor prevailed to win in Stock eliminator.

The season ending event also included the highly prestigious annual Summit Racing ET Finals — which was a tournament used to determine NHRA’s overall World Champions for ET bracket car racing. Those titles went to event winners, Pat Osmundson (Super Pro), Nelson Belot Jr (Pro), Brian Hendrickson (Sportsman) and John Markham (Pro Bike).

Editor’s Note: To link to DragRaceCanada’s event photo gallery from the NHRA AAA Auto Club Finals click: HERE

Posted with files by NHRA Communications and Bruce Biegler
Photos by Randy Anderson and courtesy of NHRA/National Dragster