POMONA, Calif. – Robert Hight raced to his third NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car world title and second in three years on Sunday by advancing to the final round of the 55th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also claimed world championships in their respective categories at the final race of the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
Hight knocked off championship hopeful and No. 1 qualifier Matt Hagan with a strong run of 3.977 seconds at 324.59 mph in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS to reach the final, where he just needed to not lose any points.
In the final, Hight performed a massive burnout to the delight of the fans before the car shut off, handing him the championship during what was the best season of his career.
“The most important run of my life was in the semifinals against Matt Hagan,” Hight said. “When it comes down to one run to win a championship, how will you perform? My heart was beating out of my chest, but we got it done. This has just been the steadiest year I’ve ever had and that’s a real tribute to this team. It’s amazing and I’m the luckiest guy in the world to drive this Funny Car. To win six races, lead the points with the competition level in Funny Car, I’m going to cherish this championship the most because we earned it. We did our job.”
Torrence clinched his second straight NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Top Fuel world title by advancing to the semifinals and making it down the track during that round on Sunday.
In a massive second-round matchup with 2017 world champ Brittany Force, Torrence pulled away at the top end, going 3.749 seconds at 326.48 in his CAPCO Contractors dragster. It followed a heated first-round matchup with Cameron Ferre, which saw Torrence win the round before getting into a shoving match with Ferre post-race.
The CAPCO team rose to the occasion against Force, performing big in another clutch situation and making a clean pass in the semifinals to win back-to-back titles.
“It’s been really special to be part of a team that goes out and has the success we’ve had,” Torrence said. “It’s really special to win one championship, much less two and to do it back-to-back. I knew what we had to do and we were going to decide who had the best chance at it in the second round. The guys prevailed and gave me the racecar, and I did the job I needed to do when I needed to do it. Our group of guys has been together for years and that continuity is what has been a key recipe to our success.”
It capped off another remarkable season for the Texan, as Torrence was again in control for most of the year. He finished with nine Top Fuel wins, including a dominant stretch of eight wins in a nine-race span.
Torrence, who won 11 races a year ago en route to his first title, also advanced to 14 final rounds in 2019, as he now has 36 wins and 55 finals appearances in his career. His playoff victory in Charlotte gave him the points lead for good, as Torrence’s path to the championship included three finals in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
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