Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock), and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were all winners at the 6th annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Steve Torrence, who is living the NHRA dream in 2017, beat Doug Kalitta by 8 thousands of a second. This is Torrence’s eighth win in 2017 and his first win at Gateway. The win solidifies his lead in the overall season points championship.
Qualifying on Friday and Saturday was a bit challenging for Torrence who qualified seventh for the Sunday elimination day competition. But the less than optimal qualifying did not seem to bother him.
“You can win from any one of these spots,” said Torrence. “It may not be the easiest route. You are going to have to beat them at some point in time. I have been able to get that out of my mind. As long as you qualify, you have a shot at winning.”
And in 2017 that is what Torrence is doing, dominating on finals day. He has eight wins and three runner up. This was his second consecutive final round in the Countdown. For now, the success he puts into perspective.
“Don’t want to get caught up in it,” said Torrence. “We’ll go back after the season and evaluate. But to this point it has been a story book season. The good Lord has blessed us.”
The win was his first in St. Louis.
Ron Capps the reigning Funny Car champion has been nearly unstoppable lately in his quest to win the championship again and he could not be stopped in today’s final.
Independent team Jonnie Linberg was tough all day and literally was nearly tied at the start of the finals race, but Capps was just too powerful at the finish line.
Capps has four wins at Gateway. He last won in 2007 and he won the inaugural NHRA race at Gateway.
“I will never forget my first win here,” said Capps. “I thought I had made it then the next day seeing my picture on the sports front page of the daily newspaper but they had my name wrong.”
Nobody is getting his name wrong these days. He is the reigning Funny Car champion and he currently leads the points. This is his second consecutive win in the Countdown.
Even with all the success Capps is not complacent and respects his competition especially his competitor in the final round Jonnie Lindberg.
“Lindberg put on lot a pressure today,” said Capps. “He is a natural. People are in line asking Lindberg to tune their car.”
Lindberg racing for Head Racing is not even in the countdown. He was not sure he was going to race all the remaining 2017 races but after a good run last week decided to come to St. Louis and he took the Funny Car competition and Capps to the brink.
“We fear these cars not in the countdown,” said Capps. “They are here testing and working for next year. In the meantime we are working for points.”
Greg Anderson beat Jason on the line by 3 thousands of a second on holeshot. Anderson is on a hot streak and has been in four consecutive finals but today was his first win.
“Everything worked great all weekend,” said Anderson. “But I knew we needed a stroke of luck and everything just fell into place.
Anderson’s win was his 89th Pro Stock win. He is the second-most winning driver in NHRA Pro Stock. Warren Johnson has won the most with 97 race wins.
This was Greg Anderson’s second win at Gateway. His last win in St. Louis was 2004.
With the win Anderson took overall season points lead. The overall top four Pro Stock competitors are in a near log jam at the top of the points Countdown but it appears that all is going well for Anderson now.
“We are peaking at the right time,” said Anderson. “But we have 3 races to go. We start it all over. Wipe the slate clean. We’re all locked up in point battle.”
LE Tonglet won by 6 thousands of second over Andrew Hines. It has been over a year since Hines has won a Sunday final.
For Tonglet it was his first Gateway win and it was his sixth win of the year along with two runner up finishes.
Like Torrence in Top Fuel, Tonglet had rough weekend qualifying in 7th place.
“Everything fell in place today,” said Tonglet. “We have been struggling in qualifying, but on Sunday’s Tim [Kulungian, crew chief] figures it out.
Kulungian had to figure it out because Tonglet had to face points leader Eddie Krawiec in the second round on his route to the race win.
“The head-to-head win was nice,” said Tonglet.
Tonglet was not intimidated by Andrew Hines who had a great weekend up to that point.
“Tim has been tuning it and it was pretty much picked up each round,” said Tonglet. “He [Kulungian] said he was going for the jugular in finals and it showed.”