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S. Torrence, Capps, Laughlin & M. Smith Pick Up Wins At NHRA Gatornationals

Defending Top Fuel world champion Steve Torrence vaulted into the points lead on Sunday at Gainesville Raceway, powering past his father, Billy, in the final round to win the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals for the first time in his career.

Ron Capps (Funny Car), Alex Laughlin (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won in their respective categories at the seventh race of the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

Torrence, who has won back-to-back world titles, went 3.809-seconds at 322.11 mph in the final round in his 11,000-horsepower dragster, which paid special tribute to “Big Daddy” Don Garlits’ iconic “Swamp Rat 14.” With Garlits watching on the starting line, Torrence and his throwback look slipped past his father’s 3.810 at 320.74 to win for the third time this year and 39th time overall. Torrence, who beat Tony Schumacher, Doug Foley and Leah Pruett to reach the final round in Gainesville for the first time, also moved into first in the class by 22 points over Doug Kalitta to cap off a memorable weekend.

“To come out here and have the opportunity to run the ‘Swamp Rat 14’ and have (Garlits) here with us, it’s icing on the cake for anything you want to do,” Torrence said. “We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, that’s just a testament to how hard Richard Hogan, Bobby Lagana and every one of these Capco boys work. For my dad to go to the final round, both of us are doing well. We’ve just to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Billy Torrence reached his second final round this season and ninth in his career with victories against Todd Paton, Shawn Langdon and Terry McMillen.

Capps picked up his fourth career win at Gainesville with a clutch performance, running 3.937 at 323.12 in the final round in his 11,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to squeak past Tim Wilkerson’s 3.945 at 325.92. It gave Don Schumacher Racing its 10th straight Funny Car win and came in a backup car after an explosion during Capps’ semifinal victory against teammate Matt Hagan. The team, led by crew chief Rahn Tobler, got the new car ready quickly, and Capps, who also had round wins against John Smith and Alexis DeJoria, delivered his second win in 2020 and 66th in his standout career.

“To be able to win four (Gatornationals) is pretty wild,” Capps said. “We put a spare car together that went out on its first full run and went 3.93 and won the Gatornationals. To run that well and have it be in the final round of the Gatornationals, it’s unbelievable. Rahn had it perfect and I felt pretty good about it. The best part is keeping the streak alive for Don Schumacher Racing. The guys on this team bring out on the best in me, and those semifinals were a big round. We had to make points up and we came through.”

Wilkerson reached his first final round this season and 45th in his career after beating Terry Haddock, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Bob Tasca III. Jack Beckman maintains a four-point lead over Hagan.

Pro Stock’s Laughlin turned around his 2020 season in a major way, racing to his first victory of the year in his Havoline/Laughlin Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro with a run of 7.068 at 204.76 in the final round against Aaron Stanfield. It was Laughlin’s first final round of the season and also made up for his crushing loss in the final round at Gainesville a year ago. He beat Kenny Delco, Kyle Koretsky and No. 1 qualifier Deric Kramer to reach the championship round before cruising to his fourth career win.

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“After the first qualifier, I thought we were going to win the race this weekend,” Laughlin said. “This track has always been really good to me. I was amped (in the finals) and I just went nuts when I saw the win light come on. What a weekend. More than anything, I just needed that this year with how awful a year it’s been. We had a completely brand new crew this weekend and we were just trying to find a routine. Everything just paid off.”

Stanfield reached his first career final round in Pro Stock thanks to wins against Bo Butner, Cristian Cuadra and Jason Line. In the points race, Line jumped two points ahead of Erica Enders.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Matt Smith finished off a dominant weekend with his first win of the season on his Denso/Stockseth/MSR EBR, going 6.843 at 196.99 to beat defending world champ Andrew Hines in the final round. It also gives Smith, who was the No. 1 qualifier, his 25th career victory, continuing a stretch that also saw him win the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle at the most recent race. He knocked off Kelly Clontz, John Hall and Scotty Pollacheck to reach the final round before his wire-to-wire win against Hines. Smith moved into the points lead with his first win at Gainesville, celebrating a special weekend that also saw his dad, Rickie, win in Pro Mod.

“I’ve tried since 2006 to win this race and I’ve never been able to do it,” said Smith, a three-time world champ. “I’ve watched my dad do it a couple times and it means a lot to win it. I’ve always wanted to win Gainesville and leave with the points lead, and I was able to do it. Right now, I think Team MSR has the best team out here and we have the power to win this thing. We’ve just to keep everything together, but we have the power to win races and win a championship.”

Hines reached his 98th final round with victories against Hector Arana Jr., and teammates Eddie Krawiec and Angelle Sampey.

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues Oct. 2-4 with the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals presented by Pennzoil at World Wide Technology Raceway in St. Louis.


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Final finish order (1-16) at the 51st annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA
Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. The race is the seventh of 11 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

1. Steve Torrence; 2. Billy Torrence; 3. Leah Pruett; 4. Terry McMillen; 5. Clay Millican; 6.Shawn Langdon; 7. Doug Foley; 8. Antron Brown; 9. Doug Kalitta; 10. Justin Ashley; 11. Arthur Allen; 12. Todd Paton; 13. Joe Morrison; 14. Tony Schumacher; 15. Cameron Ferre.

1. Ron Capps; 2. Tim Wilkerson; 3. Bob Tasca III; 4. Matt Hagan; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 6. Alexis DeJoria; 7. Blake Alexander; 8. Jack Beckman; 9. J.R. Todd; 10. John Smith; 11. Paul Lee; 12. Dave Richards; 13. Jim Campbell; 14. Cruz Pedregon; 15. Terry Haddock.

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1. Alex Laughlin; 2. Aaron Stanfield; 3. Deric Kramer; 4. Jason Line; 5. Kyle Koretsky; 6. Erica Enders; 7. Chris McGaha; 8. Cristian Cuadra; 9. Greg Anderson; 10. Kenny Delco; 11. Mason McGaha; 12. Bo Butner; 13. Troy Coughlin Jr.; 14. Matt Hartford; 15. Jeg Coughlin; 16. Bob Benza.

1. Matt Smith; 2. Andrew Hines; 3. Angelle Sampey; 4. Scotty Pollacheck; 5. Eddie Krawiec; 6. Angie Smith; 7. John Hall; 8. Jerry Savoie; 9. Hector Arana Jr; 10. Steve Johnson; 11. Chris Bostick; 12. Michael Phillips; 13. Kelly Clontz; 14. Ryan Oehler; 15. Marc Ingwersen; 16. Hector Arana.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Sunday’s final results from the 51st annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA
Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. The race is the seventh of 11 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel — Steve Torrence, 3.809 seconds, 322.11 mph def. Billy Torrence, 3.810 seconds, 320.74 mph.

Funny Car — Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.937, 323.12 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.945, 325.92.

Pro Stock — Alex Laughlin, Chevy Camaro, 7.068, 204.76 def. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 14.002, 60.60.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — Matt Smith, EBR, 6.843, 196.99 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.927, 194.63.

Pro Modified — Rickie Smith, Chevy Camaro, 5.801, 249.63 def. Mike Janis, Camaro, 6.868, 127.14.

Top Fuel Harley — Randal Andras, Harley, 6.272, 216.27 def. Chris Smith, Dixie, 6.317, 229.24.

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Top Alcohol Funny Car — Sean Bellemeur, Chevy Camaro, 5.463, 266.11 def. Doug Gordon, Camaro,
5.492, 267.16.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Final round-by-round results from the 51st annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, the seventh of 11 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:


ROUND ONE — Leah Pruett, 4.152, 300.13 def. Joe Morrison, 4.583, 248.66; Doug Foley, 3.897, 322.27 def. Arthur Allen, 4.086, 237.30; Clay Millican, 7.266, 79.85 was unopposed; Antron Brown, 3.821, 325.06 def. Cameron Ferre, 8.300, 74.27; Billy Torrence, 3.851, 319.98 def. Todd Paton, 4.486, 186.59; Steve Torrence, 3.787, 319.45 def. Tony Schumacher, 4.868, 158.04; Terry McMillen, 3.747, 321.27 def. Doug Kalitta, 3.877, 310.91; Shawn Langdon, 3.849, 301.54 def. Justin Ashley, 3.957, 256.89;
QUARTERFINALS — Pruett, 3.788, 321.96 def. Millican, 3.788, 315.86; B. Torrence, 3.778, 324.20 def. Langdon, 3.847, 315.49; McMillen, 3.827, 310.63 def. Brown, 4.575, 178.05; S. Torrence, 3.761, 322.73 def. Foley, 3.903, 317.27;
SEMIFINALS — B. Torrence, 3.817, 321.88 def. McMillen, 3.841, 311.34; S. Torrence, 3.772, 324.36 def. Pruett, 3.812, 310.20;
FINAL — S. Torrence, 3.809, 322.11 def. B. Torrence, 3.810, 320.74.


ROUND ONE — Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.987, 314.83 def. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 12.078, 88.12; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.971, 323.97 def. Dave Richards, Mustang, 7.059, 88.09; Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.915, 327.90 was unopposed; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.999, 325.14 def. John Smith, Charger, 4.024, 302.21; Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 4.051, 312.28 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 7.184, 85.45; Blake Alexander, Mustang, 5.118, 183.52 def. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 8.664, 90.03; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.962, 320.66 def. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.006, 321.58; Jack Beckman, Charger,
3.921, 325.92 def. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.135, 261.67;
QUARTERFINALS — Hagan, 3.954, 325.37 def. Beckman, 4.134, 242.67; Wilkerson, 3.949, 325.22 def. Johnson Jr., 3.957, 318.84; Tasca III, 3.967, 323.89 def. Alexander, 4.084, 309.34; Capps, 3.968, 325.22 def. DeJoria, 4.014, 319.98;
SEMIFINALS — Wilkerson, 3.958, 325.61 def. Tasca III, 3.955, 324.51; Capps, 3.898, 329.99 def. Hagan, 4.016, 312.64;
FINAL — Capps, 3.937, 323.12 def. Wilkerson, 3.945, 325.92.


ROUND ONE — Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.633, 207.15 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.617, 206.83 def. Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.636, 206.61; Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.630, 207.27 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.641, 206.70; Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.642, 206.13 def. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.813, 198.41; Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.689, 206.48 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.610, 207.69 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.629, 207.72; Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.622, 208.42 def. Bob Benza, Camaro, 6.837, 204.45; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.605, 207.46 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., Mustang, 6.655, 206.48;
QUARTERFINALS — Stanfield, 6.626, 207.40 def. C. Cuadra, Broke; Kramer, 6.641, 207.69 def. C. McGaha, 6.647, 207.34; Laughlin, 6.619, 207.30 def. Koretsky, 6.640, 206.64; Line, 6.651, 206.86 def. Enders, 6.642, 206.04;
SEMIFINALS — Stanfield, 6.634, 206.54 def. Line, 6.659, 196.85; Laughlin, 6.641, 206.76 def. Kramer, 6.613, 207.85; FINAL — Laughlin, 7.068, 204.76 def. Stanfield, 14.002, 60.60.


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ROUND ONE — John Hall, Suzuki, 6.980, 190.03 def. Ryan Oehler, 7.105, 189.02; Angie Smith, 6.895, 197.05 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.957, 191.08; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.851, 195.79 def. Hector Arana Jr, 6.920, 195.36; Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.924, 189.58 def. Chris Bostick, Suzuki, 6.972, 192.66; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.846, 197.36 def. Marc Ingwersen, Foul – Red Light; Scotty Pollacheck, 7.382, 177.23 def. Hector Arana, Broke; Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 6.856, 196.59 def. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, Foul – Red Light; Matt Smith, 6.860, 198.20 def. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.015, 190.35;
QUARTERFINALS — Pollacheck, 6.898, 194.63 def. Savoie, 6.972, 189.36; M. Smith, 6.828, 197.77 def. Hall, Foul – Red Light; Sampey, 6.907, 194.83 def. A. Smith, 6.906, 195.85; Hines, 6.912, 195.05 def. Krawiec, 6.894, 195.93;
SEMIFINALS — Hines, 6.941, 194.74 def. Sampey, Foul – Red Light; M. Smith, 6.859, 196.73 def. Pollacheck, 6.903, 195.68;
FINAL — M. Smith, 6.843, 196.99 def. Hines, 6.927, 194.63.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Point standings (top 10) following the 51st annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, the seventh of 14 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –

Top Fuel

1. Steve Torrence, 548; 2. Doug Kalitta, 526; 3. Leah Pruett, 515; 4. Billy Torrence, 433; 5. Justin Ashley, 402; 6. Shawn Langdon, 383; 7. Terry McMillen, 377; 8. Antron Brown, 373; 9. Clay Millican, 337; 10. Doug Foley, 216.

Funny Car

1. Jack Beckman, 569; 2. Matt Hagan, 565; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., 512; 4. Ron Capps, 486; 5. Tim Wilkerson, 448; 6. Bob Tasca III, 434; 7. J.R. Todd, 420; 8. Alexis DeJoria, 296; 9. Cruz Pedregon, 266; 10. Paul Lee, 258.

Pro Stock

1. Jason Line, 515; 2. Erica Enders, 513; 3. Jeg Coughlin, 481; 4. Alex Laughlin, 359; 5. Matt Hartford, 329; 6. Greg Anderson, 323; 7. Chris McGaha, 301; 8. Aaron Stanfield, 284; 9. Bo Butner, 281; 10. Deric Kramer, 280.

Pro Stock Motorcycle

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1. Matt Smith, 348; 2. Scotty Pollacheck, 327; 3. Andrew Hines, 320; 4. Angelle Sampey, 300; 5. Eddie Krawiec, 284; 6. Ryan Oehler, 237; 7. Angie Smith, 198; 8. Hector Arana Jr, 190; 9. Chris Bostick, 181; 10. Steve Johnson, 169.

This story was originally published on September 27, 2020. Drag Illustrated

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