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Defending NHRA World Champs Steve Torrence and Matt Hagan Roll to Wins in Brainerd

Steve Torrence has now won at every track on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series circuit, finally solving Brainerd International Raceway on Sunday and picking up a memorable Top Fuel victory at the 39th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.

Matt Hagan (Funny Car) also won at the 12th race of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season

Torrence, the Top Fuel points leader and three-time defending world champ drove to his seventh victory in 2021 and 47th in his career, going 3.712-seconds at 323.74 mph in the final round in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster to beat Clay Millican, who went 3.729 at 320.05. Torrence had won at every stop on the NHRA series but Brainerd before the weekend, but impressed throughout eliminations on Sunday, beating Terry Totten and Justin Ashley to reach the final round.

Both drivers had identical .052 reaction times on the starting line, but Torrence had just enough at the finish line to get the narrow victory and finish off the memorable weekend. Among active drivers, Torrence joins John Force and Ron Capps as the only current competitors who have won at every NHRA track.

“I did everything possible to screw it up all the way until the final when I finally got my head out of my butt,” Torrence said. “That was a heck of a race against Clay and those guys are coming on strong right now. This team, they continue to save me when I need it, I help them when they need it, and we’re at the front and staying there. It’s just a blessing to be here and to have this opportunity is truly special. To say I’ve won every race on the circuit, I just remember dreaming of winning one race.”

Millican maintained his strong pace by advancing to his second straight final and third this season, beating Doug Kalitta, Mike Salinas and No. 1 qualifier Brittany Force, who remained second in points behind Torrence.

In Funny Car, defending world champ Hagan delivered time and time again on Sunday, capping off his day with a run of 3.923 at 327.98 in his 11,000-horsepower Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye in the final round to slip past Cruz Pedregon. It gave Hagan his second win this season and 38th in his standout career, also sending him to the points lead in the class. In the process, he became the fourth different driver to lead the points over the past four races. He knocked off Dale Creasy Jr., Paul Lee and No. 1 qualifier Bob Tasca to reach the final round.

Hagan stayed in the low 3.90s all day in front of a huge crowd at Brainerd International Raceway and led wire-to-wire in the final round against Pedregon.

“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.”

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Pedregon, who went 3.935 at 324.83 in the championship round, reached the finals for the 78th time in his career and the second time this season thanks to wins against Gary Densham, Ron Capps and J.R. Todd.

The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to action Sept. 1-5 for the prestigious 67th annual Dodge//SRT U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

BRAINERD, Minn. — Final finish order (1-16) at the 39th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. The race is the 12th of 20 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.

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.

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.

BRAINERD, Minn. — Sunday’s final results from the 39th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. The race is the 12th of 20 in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel — Steve Torrence, 3.712 seconds, 323.74 mph def. Clay Millican, 3.729 seconds, 320.05 mph.

Funny Car — Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.923, 327.98 def. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.935, 324.83.

Top Alcohol Dragster — Rich McPhillips Jr., 5.194, 276.86 def. Joey Severance, Broke.

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Top Alcohol Funny Car — Kyle Smith, Ford Mustang, 5.496, 259.56 def. Bob McCosh, Chevy Camaro, 5.616, 262.23.

Super Stock — Anthony Bertozzi, Pontiac Grand Am, 9.019, 146.46 def. Mike Mans, Pontiac Firebird, 8.769, 153.54.

Stock Eliminator — Brett Speer, Chevy Nova, 10.510, 111.21 def. Russ Kramer, Plymouth Belvedere, 10.815, 121.57.

Super Comp — Gary Stinnett, Dragster, 8.909, 179.49 def. Craig Schultz, Dragster, 8.904, 167.22.

Super Gas — Luke Bogacki, Chevy Corvette, 10.541, 115.62 def. Dale Evens, Corvette, Foul – Red Light.

Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers — Curt Harshfield, Chevy BelAir, 6.968, 184.77 def. Steve Jaeger, Chevy Monte Carlo, 6.796, 197.80.

Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers — Kendra Larson, Dragster, 7.088, 188.96 def. Holden Laris, Dragster, Foul – Red Light.

Pro Modified — Jose Gonzalez, Chevy Camaro, 5.790, 246.03 def. Brandon Snider, Chevy Corvette, 5.812, 247.29.

Mountain Motor Pro Stock — JR Carr, Chevy Camaro, 6.379, 209.88 def. John DeFlorian Jr, Camaro, Foul – Red Light.

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BRAINERD, Minn. — Final round-by-round results from the 39th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, the 12th of 20 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series:


ROUND ONE — Antron Brown, 3.749, 326.08 def. Shawn Langdon, 12.384, 71.89; Clay Millican, 3.729, 327.27 def. Doug Kalitta, 3.809, 321.88; Brittany Force, 3.680, 334.40 was unopposed; Steve Torrence, 3.697, 330.31 def. Terry Totten, Foul – Red Light; Mike Salinas, 3.701, 324.59 def. T.J. Zizzo, 3.777, 327.35; Justin Ashley, 3.765, 326.32 def. Leah Pruett, 4.472, 179.64;
QUARTERFINALS — Force, 3.672, 333.33 def. Brown, 3.771, 315.78; Millican, 3.741, 325.69 def. Salinas, 3.775, 284.45; Torrence, 3.737, 326.48 def. Ashley, 3.910, 277.32;
SEMIFINALS — Millican, 3.876, 265.95 def. Force, 7.971, 77.65; Torrence, 3.697, 329.34 was unopposed;
FINAL — Torrence, 3.712, 323.74 def. Millican, 3.729, 320.05.


ROUND ONE — Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.911, 331.69 was unopposed; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.934, 314.75 def. Jim Campbell, Dodge Charger, 6.537, 104.31; Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.907, 326.56 def. Gary Densham, Mustang, 4.253, 270.75; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.911, 328.30 def. Dale Creasy Jr., Charger, 4.031, 311.85; Paul Lee, Charger, 4.320, 210.37 def. Bob Bode, Mustang, Foul – Centerline; J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.933, 325.88 def. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.988, 274.05; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.953, 323.35 def. John Force, Camaro, 6.205, 112.01; Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.939, 320.43 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.940, 328.46;
QUARTERFINALS — Tasca III, 3.899, 329.67 def. Alexander, 3.950, 318.92; Pedregon, 3.908, 325.45 def. Capps, 3.935, 325.45; Hagan, 3.928, 323.27 def. Lee, 3.911, 329.18; Todd, 3.931, 326.87 def. Wilkerson, 3.929, 320.97;
SEMIFINALS — Hagan, 3.932, 328.30 def. Tasca III, 3.940, 329.00; Pedregon, 3.933, 322.73 def. Todd, 3.955, 321.73;
FINAL — Hagan, 3.923, 327.98 def. Pedregon, 3.935, 324.83.

BRAINERD, Minn. — Point standings (top 10) following the 39th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, the 12th of 20 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series –

Top Fuel

1. Steve Torrence, 1,212; 2. Brittany Force, 829; 3. Antron Brown, 791; 4. (tie) Leah Pruett, 631; Mike Salinas, 631; 6. Shawn Langdon, 620; 7. Clay Millican, 579; 8. Justin Ashley, 578; 9. Billy Torrence, 510; 10. Doug Kalitta, 503.

Funny Car

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1. Matt Hagan, 865; 2. (tie) Bob Tasca III, 850; J.R. Todd, 850; 4. John Force, 849; 5. Ron Capps, 840; 6. Robert Hight, 782; 7. Alexis DeJoria, 725; 8. Cruz Pedregon, 712; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 631; 10. Blake Alexander, 470.

This story was originally published on August 22, 2021. Drag Illustrated

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