Texan Billy Torrence Rules His Home Turf

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Billy Torrence Rules
Billy Torrence won Sunday at Texas Motorplex, his first victory at his home track. (NHRA photo)

ENNIS, Texas – It was a Texas-sized celebration for Billy Torrence on Sunday at Texas Motorplex, as the Texan Top Fuel driver won at his home track during the 34th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals.

Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won in their respective categories at the fourth of six races during the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

Billy Torrence claimed his second victory in the playoffs, going 3.775-seconds at 319.67 mph in his Capco Contractors dragster to beat first-time finalist Jordan Vandergriff.

The elder Torrence, whose son Steve is the points leader and defending champion, earned his fourth victory this season and fifth in his career, winning for the first time at his home track. He pulled to within 71 points of his son, who lost in the opening round on Sunday.

Billy Torrence picking up wins against Terry McMillen, Shawn Reed and No. 1 qualifier Brittany Force to reach the final round.

Vandergriff was quicker off the line, but hazed the tires and Billy Torrence chased him down for the biggest win in his career, also giving the Torrence family their third straight win in the playoffs and second consecutive in Dallas.

“It’s home turf and we love to race here,” said Billy Torrence, who is now fourth in points. “We’ve raced here our whole career and we have a lot of fans here. There’s no better place to race than Dallas, Texas, and we did have the best car today. It has been very humbling, and we’ve been very blessed and fortunate to have the success we’ve had. We’ve got a great group of guys on both cars and our success is just a testament to the work these guys do.

“I think that we’re probably the second-best car in the country, with Steve having the best. We’ve had a stellar season.”

Vandergriff reached the final round for the first time thanks to wins against Clay Millican, Lee Callaway and fellow rookie standout Austin Prock.

Steve Torrence stayed in the points lead, leaving Dallas with a 33-point advantage over Doug Kalitta.

Hagan earned his third Funny Car win of 2019, going 3.909 at 327.59 in the final round in his Western Technical College/MOPAR CAP Dodge SRT Hellcat to beat Bob Tasca’s 3.928 at 323.12. It is Hagan’s 32nd career win and third at Texas Motorplex.

He knocked off Blake Alexander, defending world champ J.R. Todd and points leader Robert Hight en route to the win, beating Tasca in a thrilling side-by-side race. Hagan also moved to fourth in points in the loaded class.

“We had a great race car today,” Hagan said. “Qualifying was pretty tough, but to turn on four win lights was pretty huge. Bob is a great driver and those guys are good, so I’m glad things turned out the way they did. We’re just trying to keep some momentum going, keep doing our job and control what we can control. It was a pretty special weekend. We’ve just got to keep digging and keep working.

“I love this sport and it’s been a big part of my life for 10 years,” noted Hagan. “I knew (crew chief Dickie Venables) was tuned in and you could see he was confident, and that builds confidence in me.”

Tasca beat Jonnie Lindberg, Jack Beckman and No. 1 qualifier John Force to reach his 16th career final round.

Hight maintained the points lead in the class, with Jack Beckman the nearest competitor at 70 points back with two races left.

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