Super scenic Pacific Raceway’s hosts NHRA’s Western swing middle round……

4X NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence moved into the points lead at Pacific Raceways with his first win of the 2023 season, powering past Doug Kalitta in the final round of the 34th annual Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals.  Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won at the 11th of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.

Torrence earned his 54th career win, going 3.940-seconds at 289.26 mph in his Capco Contractors/Toyota dragster to knock off Kalitta, denying the veteran his 50th overall victory. It also gave Toyota its 200th overall NHRA win.

Steve Torrence definaitely returned to his winning ways at NHRA Seattle – scoring twice in Top Fuel eliminator!

Torrence beat Josh Hart, defending world champ Brittany Force and Shawn Langdon to reach the finals, moving four points ahead of Justin Ashley with the win. The victory, which was his first since St. Louis last year in the Countdown to the Championship, wrapped a thrilling double-up weekend for the multi-time world champ after Torrence also won the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge on Saturday in Seattle.

“You know, it’s a great feeling and kind of a monkey off your back and a huge sense of accomplishment,” Torrence said. “The performance today, two rounds were stellar and two rounds weren’t that stellar. It’s difficult when things are not absolutely great to be as confident as you need to be to drive these things successfully. This is a great place to win and at the right time because we’re getting some momentum.

Kalitta reached the finals for the second time in 2023 and 109th time overall, getting past Ron Smith and Clay Millican earlier in the day.

In Funny Car, consistency paved the way for Tim Wilkerson, putting together three straight 4.00 runs on Sunday and going 4.007 at 321.96 in his 11,000-horsepower SCAG Power Equipment/Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang in the championship round to defeat J.R. Todd. It is the veteran’s second victory this season and his 24th career victory, as well as his fourth overall win at Pacific Raceways. To reach the final round, Wilkerson had to knock off points leader Matt Hagan, back-to-back world champ Ron Capps and Blake Alexander, going 4.007 in consecutive rounds to close out his day.

It bumped Wilkerson to sixth in points, adding another standout performance in Seattle to his career accomplishments.

Funny Car racing produced a 2nd win of the season for Chicagoland’s Tim Wilkerson.

“I accidentally went a little deep on J.R. in the final there or the thing probably would have run a (3).96,” Wilkerson. “But I’m very, very proud of my guys today. They were flawless It’s a hot day, man. We worked hard and had the same motor in the car all the way until the finals, and I’m pretty proud of that. We really had a great day.

“I’ve had a couple of couple of rough three races here. You know, just hang in there. We’ve got that 24-hour rule: 24 hours after we win, lose or draw? Start over, because you can’t dwell on that stuff. It’ll drive you crazy. We have a chance to win every weekend, in my opinion. It’s just whether I mess it up or not.”

Todd advanced to the finals in Seattle for the second straight year, defeating Alex Laughlin, Cruz Pedregon and Chad Green. It’s also Todd’s second runner-up this year and his 43rd career final. Hagan stays in the points lead, taking a 17-point advantage over Capps into Sonoma.

The first-ever weekend in Seattle for Pro Stock Motorcycle simply meant another dominating weekend for points leader Gaige Herrera, as he wrapped up a flawless weekend at Pacific Raceways with a winning run of 6.764 at 198.99 on his Vance & Hines/Mission Foods to defeat teammate Eddie Krawiec. It gives the phenom his fifth win in seven races in the category this year, as well as a second perfect weekend after Herrera qualified No. 1 and also picked up the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge victory.

On Sunday, he reached the final round with round wins against Lance Bonham and Hector Arana Jr., going as quick as 6.729 at 197.36. After winning in Denver, Herrera now has the chance to sweep the Western Swing, a feat that has never been accomplished in Pro Stock Motorcycle and hasn’t happened for any competitor since 2009. Herrera is excited about that opportunity and was also thrilled to perform at an impressive level in his first appearance at Pacific Raceways.

The Pro Stock Motorcycle class made it’s first ever appearance at Seattle. Gaige Herrera won the event – his 5th season score.

“It means a lot to be the first winner and I’m glad we were able to put on a show for them,” Herrera said. “The track was smooth and one of the best tracks I’ve been on, and Andrew (Hines, crew chief) and the guys had our bike running great. That was probably one of my toughest finals, having to race the boss and one of the guys that has helped me so much. Overall, though, it was awesome racing him and it was just business as usual and I’m happy to be on top.

“I’ve had an awesome two races and I hope to do well in Sonoma. It obviously would be amazing to sweep (the Western Swing), so I’m definitely excited. Plus, we’ve got the (Pro Stock Motorcycle) All-Star Callout, so it’s going to be a busy, busy weekend. The whole field is tightening up and Sonoma is always a fast track, so it’s going to be very competitive.”

Krawiec, who was denied his 50th career victory, advanced to the final round for the 82nd time overall and first time in 2023 with wins against Ryan Oehler, rookie Chase Van Sant and defending world champion Matt Smith.

Saturday’s event schedule at Seattle included the popular running for the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge bonus event.

Defending Funny Car world champion Ron Capps rolled to his third win in Napa Toyota defeating J.R. Todd’s DHL Toyota in that final by a 3.951 secs 322.65 mph to 3.967 secs 323.81 mph count.

Ron Capps won the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge title for FC – held on Saturday.

In the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Top Fuel Challenge, Steve Torrence prevailed winning over Shawn Langdon and it was Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also winning taking an event victory. Herrera (also the #1 qualifier) defeated Angie Smith by a close 6.794 secs to 6.806 secs margin in that final round.

The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series closes out the famed three-race Western Swing with the Denso NHRA Sonoma Nationals on July 28-30 at Sonoma Raceway.

Lucas Oil Lowdown 

(Sportsman Racing Final Round Summary )

Top Alcohol Dragster — Jackie Fricke, 5.270, 276.13 def. Joey Severance, 8.312, 100.31.

Top Alcohol Funny Car — Doug Gordon, Chevy Camaro, 5.475, 268.60 def. Annie Whiteley, Camaro, 7.379, 137.62.

Skilled lady racer Jackie Fricke won her 8th career NHRA nationals events.

Defending World Champion Doug Gordon won in TAFC

Competition Eliminator — Joseph Arrowsmith, Pontiac GTO, 9.164, 108.77 def. Cody Lane, Chevy Cavalier, Foul – Red Light.

Super Stock — Rick McKinney, Chevy Camaro, 10.582, 122.50 def. Don Thomas, Pontiac Gran Am, 10.135, 131.88.

Canadian Rick McKinney from Richmond BC (above & below) won his first national event title in Super Stock!

Stock Eliminator — Justin Lamb, Chevy Camaro, 9.814, 127.35 def. Greg Kielman, Camaro, 11.676, 111.15.

Justin Lamb raced his Chevy Camaro to a 30th career NHRA national event title.

Super Comp — Garrett Sides, Dragster, 8.912, 181.23 def. Dylan Hough, Dragster, 8.888, 182.03.

Super Gas — Paul Nero, Chevy Corvette, 9.932, 162.45 def. Lindsey Larson, Chevy Corvette, 9.968, 167.05.

Super Gas went to Paul Nero’s Corvette.

Super Street — Brian McGinnis, Chevy, 10.951, 126.79 def. Dustin Ward, dodge Dart, 10.971, 125.19.

Top Dragster — Thomas Bayer, Dragster, 6.148, 231.40 def. Dylan Hough, Dragster, 6.796, 195.90.

Top Sportsman — Mike Ferderer, Pontiac Grand Am, 7.119, 193.85 def. Bryan Warr, Chevy Camaro, 6.775, 199.94.

The Top Sportsman title went to Mike Ferderer (near lane) over Bryan Warr.

Junior Dragster Shootout — Ty Gaynor, Halfscale, 8.178, 80.33 def. Cody Mackey, 8.008, 79.06.

Posted with files by NHRA Communications & Bruce Biegler

All photos by Les Puchala 

Link to the LMLCMedia event photo gallery from Seattle : HERE