TOPEKA, Kan. – Defending Funny Car and Top Fuel champions J.R. Todd and Steve Torrence powered to the top of their respective categories Friday evening at the 31st annual Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties at Heartland Motorsports Park.

Todd paced the Funny Car category Friday evening with a run of 3.924 seconds at 318.99 mph in his DHL Toyota Camry. He is chasing his first No. 1 qualifier of the season, second win on the year and first at Heartland Motorsports Park.

“It was a good run,” Todd stated. “I came back afterwards and Todd (Smith, crew chief) and John O. (Oberhofer, crew chief) said it ran better than they expected it to. That was a good rebound after Q1 where we were conservative and spun the tires. Good way to bounce back for the yella fellas, that’s nice and smooth.”

Steve Torrence topped the qualifying charts in Top Fuel Friday at Heartland Motorsports Park. (NHRA Photo)
Steve Torrence topped the qualifying charts in Top Fuel Friday at Heartland Motorsports Park. (NHRA Photo)

Torrence is the provisional qualifying leader in Top Fuel with a 3.760-second pass at 325.45 mph during the second round of qualifying. He is entering the event with four consecutive victories on the season and is seeking for his second No. 1 qualifier of the season in his Capco Contractors dragster.

His father, Billy Torrence, finished the day in the second position after his pass of 3.765 seconds at 323.58 mph.

“It’s going to be an important weekend to be No. 1,” said the reigning Top Fuel champion. “Knowing that the car is doing exactly what Richard (Hogan, crew chief) and Bobby (Lagana Jr., crew chief) are telling it to do on the track makes you more comfortable getting in. Allows us to have a little bit more confidence and swagger heading into those sessions when you know you can go No. 1.”

Qualifying continues for the Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties at 12:30 and 3:45 pm CT on Saturday.