MADISON, Ill. (Sept. 30, 2022) – Four-time defending Top Fuel world champion Steve Torrence is ready to launch into championship contention and made his best run of the season on Friday at World Wide Technology Raceway, taking the provisional No. 1 qualifier to open the weekend at the 11th annual NHRA Midwest Nationals.
Torrence powered to a run of 3.655-seconds at 327.43 in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster during the first qualifying session in St. Louis, looking to make up some ground in a hurry. If it holds, Torrence, who is currently fifth in Top Fuel points, would pick up his third top qualifier of the season and 34th in his career. Torrence, though, is trying to rack up victories in the Countdown to the Championship after falling in the second round at the first two playoff races. He’s had recent success in St. Louis as the defending event winner and will hope to add to that this weekend.
"That’s a year’s work that goes into a run like that,” Torrence said. “These guys have worked really hard to get the car where it’s at. We’re behind the eight-ball right now, but we’re going to do everything we can. We didn’t get to be the four-time champs by doing dumb stuff, but we have backed ourselves into a corner.
"The class has really stepped up and everyone is so quick and so fast right now. We needed to run well and we're trying to get ourselves back in there. That was great for us to do that tonight."
Doug Kalitta is currently in the second spot with a stout 3.684 at 334.32, while Clay Millican stayed hot to round out the top three after going 3.703 at 334.24. Buddy Hull impressed with a run of 3.822 at 315.78 to finish the night in the provisional 6th spot. Points leader Justin Ashley is currently 16th after struggling to make a successful pass.
Robert Hight and the AAA Missouri Chevrolet Camaro SS are the provisional No. 1 qualifiers Friday night at the NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway. They narrowly held off John Force and the PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Chevy who sit No. 2. In Top Fuel, Austin Prock has the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist dragster sitting No. 12 and Brittany Force and the Flav-R-Pac / Monster Energy dragster are No. 18.
Robert Hight and the AAA team blasted to the No. 1 spot off their 3.853-second pass at 336.32 mph and earn three bonus qualifying points. Their run only nearly earned them the No. 1 spot with John Force and the PEAK Auto Chevy going an identical 3.853-seconds but at a slower 334.15 mph.
Hight, who is the track record holder for both elapsed time and speed, is chasing his fifth No. 1 position at World Wide Technology Raceway and ultimately his third win at the Midwest Nationals.
“It’s huge, there’s only 15 cars so No. 1 spot is every important for Sunday. We’re counting points, every single one counts. We amassed a decent lead with our win in Reading, but we gave a lot of it back last weekend in Charlotte. We worked hard at the shop this week and tried to identify any potential problems,” Hight said. “To come out here and make a run like that, it’s the fastest I’ve run in a long time. It’s impressive. I’m confident in my crew chiefs Jimmy Prock and Chris Cunningham. They saw the cars in front of us having issues, but they stuck to the course and were confident in their combination.
In Pro Stock, Kyle Koretsky is a provisional No. 1 qualifier at the third of six races in the Countdown to the Championship.
Koretsky made a strong pass in the opening qualifying session in his Lucas Oil Chevrolet Camaro, taking the top spot with a run of 6.512 at 211.00. It puts Koretsky on track for his second No. 1 qualifier this season – and first since Phoenix in February – and third in his career. Koretsky is currently fifth in points and looking for his first win this season. Getting it at the halfway point of the Countdown to the Championship would be a huge boost to his title chances.
“That was a great first run off the trailer,” Koretsky said. “St. Louis has been pretty good to us, and the guys have been working hard on the engines. We’ve been struggling a little bit, but the guys at KB Racing have been working hard and we don’t give up. It’s cool to sit No. 1 after Friday night, but you never know out here. Everyone is tough and we’re going to give St. Louis a heck of a run.”
Defending world champ and KB Racing teammate Greg Anderson also dipped into the 6.51 range, going 6.517 at 210.44 to sit second, while two-time race winner Troy Coughlin is third after a 6.529 at 210.60. Points leader Erica Enders is currently fifth thanks to a 6.536.
Pro Stock Motorcycle is hitting the track for only the 2nd time in the Countdown and there are still many contenders as we hit the final stretch of the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
After not participating last year at World Wide Technology raceway, the Pro Stock Motorcycle class returned on Friday, with defending world champ Matt Smith making an impressive run of 6.709 at 202.82 on his Denso Auto Parts Buell. That set both ends of the track record and was the quickest run of Smith's career after ending up 2nd in the points after the first race of the Countdown.
“The motorcycles have evolved a lot in the last few years,” Smith said. “I’m excited to be back and it’s a fast track, and I’m looking forward to what happens tomorrow. If we have the same weather, we’re definitely going to go and swing for the 6.60s because we’ve never done that before, and we would love to do it.”
Angelle Sampey also impressed on Friday, going 6.726 at 201.67 and Angie Smith followed with a 6.748 at 201.19. Gladstone is currently seventh after his pass of 6.792.
See the recap from David Kennedy at NHRA.com:
2022 NHRA Midwest Nationals Friday photo gallery:
Photo: RPM / NHRA