Top Fuel’s Steve Torrence turned in the fifth-fastest run in NHRA history on Friday and his fastest run in four years, winning the provisional No. 1 position at the 38th annual Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex. Bob Tasca III (Funny Car), Deric Kramer (Pro Stock), and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also the provisional No. 1 qualifiers.
Torrence went 3.636s at 336.62 mph in his Capco Contractors/Toyota dragster at his home track, putting the Texan and four-time world champion in line for his third No. 1 qualifier of the season. It was also a track ET record and career-best run for Torrence, who entered the third week in points. Setting the track record and making the best Top Fuel run since 2019 at a track where he grew up racing means a lot to Torrence, who hopes to replicate his incredible start to the race – which includes $15,000 “Friday Night Live” low qualifying bonus – for a great finish this week.
“I have a lot of history here at this racetrack, I grew up racing here,” Torrence said. “There’s a lot of expectations when you come here. You want to go out and do well in front of the hometown fans. I’m proud to be from Texas and these fans are unbelievable. Richard Hogan, Bobby Lagana, every one of those guys put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into what they do. It makes you proud of the team and what’s going on.
“The track is unbelievable here, the whole Meyer family and everyone behind the scenes has done a great job. It’s an event, it’s more than a race, and I’m proud of everything that happened here. Going out, going down the ET, running top speed in the race and the ET, it’s special. We’ve got to carry that momentum into race day, we’ve got to keep the car running well, but it a good place to start.”
Points leader Doug Kalitta posted a 3.642s at 334.70 to take second place, while Torrence’s father, Billy, was third after 3.660s at 334.57. Justin Ashley posted the track speed record with a blast of 338.40, which is also the third-fastest run in Top Fuel history. In total, 11 cars went in the 3.60s during an epic nitro qualifying session.
That includes Funny Car, where points leader Bob Tasca III blasted his fastest run in five years in the category, posting a beautiful pass of 3.822s at 335.55 in his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang, which also broke the track ET record. He set the fastest pace of the two qualifying sessions on Friday in Dallas to continue his Countdown to Championship momentum and move closer to his seventh No. 1 qualifier of the season.
Tasca jumped into the points lead in the playoffs for the first time in his career at the most recent event in St. Louis and continued his strong run in Dallas, setting the fastest pace in the class since the start of the 2018 race season, which also earned Tasca a $15,000 “Friday Night Live” low qualifier bonus.
“This is unbelievable. The car is dead smooth,” said Tasca. “When we got back to the pit I said, ‘Guys, if you look at that run you’ll say there’s still something in it.’ The hardest part of that run is the hike up the front end of about 700 or 800 feet. There is a little bit inside and I have a middle steering wheel that is turned outside. It put the nose and I was able to bring it back. It was an exciting run.
“You’re playing hardball against the best of the best in the world with Robert, Hagan, and Capps running .80s left and right. That’s what happens when you win a championship. You will fight them, not in one or two races but in every race in Countdown. So far, we have done that. But you have to run here to win this race. We have a lot of momentum coming into this weekend. ”
Matt Hagan, who entered the weekend 13 points behind Tasca, ran 3.848s at 319.24, good enough for second, while defending world champion Ron Capps had a 3.851 at 333.95 that put him third.
Deric Kramer turned in the fastest run of the year in Pro Stock, turning in a stellar pass of 6.486s at 209.50 in his Get Biofuel Chevrolet Camaro. It puts the veteran on track for his first No. 1 spot of the season and the seventh of his career and also handed Kramer the $7,500 “Friday Night Live” low qualifier bonus as well. Kramer has enjoyed a strong run early this season, advancing to four consecutive finals and moving up to second in points. He fell to seventh and hasn’t reached a final since May, but Kramer appears to be on track to get that back after a strong run under the lights on Friday in Dallas.
“I just kept grabbing stuff and it was good the whole way,” Kramer said. “I knew we had a lot to take from our first run, and I thought some people could take a little bit more so I didn’t think it would fit, to be perfectly honest. But I’m very happy – everything went well, and the night runs were my favorite.
“If you’re not looking for this race, you don’t have a chance the rest of the year. It’s about staying at it, and I think we all knew that coming into this week. We knew we wanted to that will improve this week. We want to try to finish the season strong and have a good year.
Points leader, defending world champion, and defending event winner Erica Enders came in second with 6.498s at 211.79. He is after his fourth consecutive No. 1 spot in the playoffs. Aaron Stanfield is now third after a 6.498 at 210.62.
Pro Stock Motorcycle leader Gaige Herrera closed out another historic mark in his incredible 2023 season, setting the track ET record at the Texas Motorplex with a standout run of 6.689s at 203.41 in his Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki. It gave him a $5,000 “Friday Night Live” low qualifier bonus and put him on track for his 12th No. 1 qualifier in 13 races. If it continues on Saturday, Herrera will set the single-season record for No. The points leader set the fastest pace of both sessions on Friday as he also looks for his third consecutive Countdown to the Championship victory.
“Overall, the day was very good for us,” said Herrera. “To be able to get out there in the saddle, have fun, and get a little extra cash, it’s great to get the bragging rights. We get bragging rights all the time, but getting money on top of that is good for the whole team.
“It would mean a lot to pass Matt Hines who had that record before. If I could do that, it would mean a lot to me and everyone in the shop. We’re happy to put it under the same roof. That’s just really cool, but I have to give all the credit to Andrew (Hines, crew chief) and all the guys in the shop at Vance & Hines. They work day and night, and it shows on the racetrack.”
Herrera’s teammate, Eddie Krawiec, took second place with 6.727s at 202.35 as he looks for his 50th career victory this weekend. Hector Arana Jr. was third. thanks for the 6.756s at 201.20.
Qualifying continues at 1:00 p.m. CT on Saturday at the Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex.