Hagan and Torrence return to victory form at Brainerd

Matt Hagan and Steve Torrence snapped a small winless streak Sunday afternoon after claiming victories in their respective NHRA classes.

Hagan’s victory was his first since Denver of this year and it was Torrence’s first win since Sonoma before going on a two-race winless streak.

Funny Car

After winning last week in Topeka, all-time great John Force looked to continue the momentum and leave Brainerd with another victory. Unfortunately for Force, he was eliminated early by Ron Capps as Force’s car went sideways in his lane. Despite that, Force locked himself into the Countdown to the Championship that begins after Indianapolis.

Hagan qualified the Dodge SRT Charger in the fourth position and set up a first-round match-up with No. 13 qualifier Dale Creasy Jr. Hagan won the first round with a time of 3.911 seconds and 328.80 mph to advance to his sixth career quarterfinal appearance to face Paul Lee. In the quarter round, Hagan won again albeit on a holeshot victory with a .070 reaction time to Lee’s .095 reaction time.

Hagan faced No. 1 qualifier Bob Tasca III in the semis. The Don Schumacher Racing driver was once again victorious after eliminating Tasca with a time of 3.932 seconds and 328.30 mph to face Cruz Pedregon in the finals.

Pedregon, who has not won at the track since 1992 in his rookie Funny Car season, advanced to the finals after winning against Gary Densham in the first round, Ron Capps in the second and J.R. Todd in the semi final.

In the finals, Hagan and Pedregon squared off against each other. Hagan got off the line first with a .051 reaction time to Pedregon’s .106. Hagan went on to take his first ever track victory eliminating Pedregon with an ET of 3.923 seconds and 327.98 mph. The victory was Hagan’s second of the season and the 38th of his Funny Car career.

“We’re trying to get where we need to be and should be coming off a championship run last year,” Hagan said. “(Crew chief) Dickie Venables, you give that guy enough shots at the race track and he’s a bad man. I really just want to do my job up there. I really pride myself on leaving the starting line really well, and I think most of my competitors understand that. It’s just going to take everything. You’re going to have to leave well and race well, and right now we’re doing that.”

Pedregon earned his first runner-up finish of the season and the 41st of his career after finishing second.

Funny Car Results

  1. Matt Hagan
  2. Cruz Pedregon
  3. Bob Tasca III
  4. J.R. Todd
  5. Paul Lee
  6. Tim Wilkerson
  7. Ron Capps
  8. Blake Alexander
  9. Alexis DeJoria
  10. Robert Hight
  11. Dale Creasy Jr
  12. Gary Densham
  13. John Force
  14. Jim Campbell
  15. Bob Bode

Funny Car Championship Points Standings

  1. Matt Hagan, 865 points
  2. Bob Tasca III, -15
  3. J.R. Todd, -15
  4. John Force, -16
  5. Ron Capps, -25
  6. Robert Hight, -83
  7. Alexis DeJoria, -140
  8. Cruz Pedregon, -153
  9. Tim Wilkerson, -234
  10. Blake Alexander, -395

Top Fuel

Following a three race consecutive win streak from Norwalk to Somona, Torrence lost in the first round to Antron Brown in Pomona and a semi-final loss to Brittany Force last weekend in Topeka.

The Kilgore, Texas native hoped to rebound this weekend at Brainerd, a racetrack that Steve has not won at yet, but one that his father, Billy Torrence, did in 2018.

Torrence qualified in the second position after three rounds of qualifying Saturday and had a first round match against No. 11 Terry Totten. Torrence won with a time of 3.697 seconds at 330.31 mph to advance to Round 2.

Torrence then earned a bye into the final round (with a low car count this weekend) by eliminating Justin Ashley in the second round. Torrence’s run of 3.737 seconds and 326.48 mph beat Ashley despite Ashley leaving the finish line first.

All eyes were on the semi-finals as that round would determine who Torrence would face in the finals, either Topeka winner Brittany Force or Clay Millican (who has not won since 2018).

As both Force and Millican left the starting line, Force’s Monster Energy machine lost traction and Millican flew right past her, eliminating Force.

In the final round, it was Millican who got off the staging lane first by .001 reaction time. However, the victory went to Torrence who won with an ET of 3.712 seconds and 323.74 mph. The victory was Torrence’s seventh of the season and the 47th of his career.

“It is what it is,” Torrence said who leads Force by 383 points following today’s victory. “(The adjustment) gives more teams a shot at the championship, I guess, and that’s what they’re going for. We can’t change that. All we can do is go out and do our job. If you win the races, the points will take care of themselves.”

“I did everything possible to screw it up,” he admitted of his .132 of a second reaction time, “but those Capco boys bailed me out again. Those things happen and when they do you just have to put them behind you and get back in the game. We got lucky, but we’ll take it and learn from it.”

Millican had a decent day, but came up short and notched the 15th career runner-up of his career and second consecutive of the season. His first runner-up was last weekend at Topeka to Brittany Force.

Top Fuel Results

  1. Steve Torrence
  2. Clay Millican
  3. Brittany Force
  4. Antron Brown
  5. Mike Salinas
  6. Justin Ashley
  7. T.J. Zizzo
  8. Doug Kalitta
  9. Leah Pruett
  10. Shawn Langdon
  11. Terry Totten

Top Fuel Championship Points Standings

  1. Steve Torrence, 1,212 points
  2. Brittany Force, -383
  3. Antron Brown, -421
  4. Leah Pruett, -581
  5. Mike Salinas, -581
  6. Shawn Langdon, -592
  7. Clay Millican, -633
  8. Justin Ashley, -634
  9. Billy Torrence, -702
  10. Doug Kalitta, -709

Up Next: The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series will take a few weeks off before heading to one of their most prestigious races, the U.S. Nationals, scheduled for Sept. 1 – Sept. 5.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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