From Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor | NHRA
SONOMA, Calif. (July 29, 2023) – A victory a week ago in Seattle for Steve Torrence in Top Fuel and a runner-up for Funny Car’s J.R. Todd proved to be the gift that keeps on giving as each earned wins in the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, held on Saturday in Sonoma. Torrence continued to pile on his opponents with a final round win against Millican’s Denso/Parts Plus dragster. Torrence won on a small holeshot, parlaying a .067 to .096 starting line advantage into a 3.788 to 3.781 victory.
“Everything is going well right now, our car has showed a glimmer of hope and it’s consistent,” said Torrence. “Of course, anytime you win on a holeshot it makes you feel good. I did take a little long to get staged and I went over and apologized to Clay. I had my best light of the day and now we get to eat [Mission] tortilla chips.”
Millican, a winner in Denver, opened with a 3.793 in his Denso/Rick Ware Racing dragster to beat Doug Kalitta, who appeared to be ahead before his Mac Tools dragster went silent before the finish line. Torrence followed with a 3.765 to top a tire-smoking Shawn Langdon and perhaps more importantly, earn lane choice for the final round.
“Hopefully, now I’ll here a little less noise from all the people who say ‘He’s fallen off ever since he became a dad.’ If anything, being a dad has made me want to win even more because I don’t want to have to tell my daughter, ‘You know, I used to be pretty good before you were born. Now, we need to work on winning tomorrow. No one [in Top Fuel] is going to sweep the swing but we can sure win two in a row.”
Todd, who backed up his semifinal finish in Denver with a runner-up in Seattle, continued to enjoy success on the Western Swing with a final round win over Blake Alexander, who was shut off before the final round after his Pronto entry developed a fluid leak on the burnout. Todd would likely have presented a formidable opponent with a 3.977 at over 322-mph in his DJL Toyota.
“Any win is a good win and I feel like we’ve let the last two slip away,” said Todd. “This gives us some good momentum for race day and I hope it starts a trend for us. Ever since Norwalk, I’ve felt like we’ve been building momentum but it also shows how hard to win in Funny Car right now.
“I think we’ve had one of the best cars on the Swing but they’re all tough,” Todd said. “I think we were good enough to win in Denver and last week in Seattle, I messed up. Not to take anything away from Wilk [Tim Wilkerson] because he made a great run. It’s been two years since our last win but I’m still confident. If you cant’ be confident in a nitro Funny Car, you probably should find another job.”
Todd reached the final round with a 4.097 in the semifinals against Chad Green, who has been to seven semifinals this season. While Alexander, the Norwalk champ, took out Wilkerson’s SCAG Mowers Ford with a 4.107 to reach the final.
The DENSO NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway continues with eliminations Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Television coverage of the event continues with a second qualifying show Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). Eliminations will be aired on FOX Broadcast Network Sunday at 4:00 p.m. ET.
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