The NHRA Camping World Series is at the site for one of the biggest races of the year, the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis for the Big Go.
Also on-site at the U.S. Nationals are the semi-finals and finals for the first ever All-Star Pep Boys Call Out races for Funny Car and Top Fuel. On Saturday afternoon, the All-Star race for Top Fuel resumed competition after rain showers from the Gainseville Nationals race postponed the rest of the competition to Indianapolis.
Just a couple of rounds were completed after postponement, but in order to be in the call-out, the requirement was that a driver needed to be in the top eight in the point standings. Heading into Friday night when drivers were making their selection, current Top Fuel points leader Brittany Force was the first to pick a driver out of the four remaining. With the exception of Force, the other three were four-time champion Steve Torrence, Team Scrappers Mike Salinas, and two-time winner this season Justin Ashley.
During the special ceremonies Friday night, Force picked Salinas to race in the second round of qualifying, while Torrence was left to race Ashley.
In the second round of the call-out, the track temperature was 79 degrees, making the track a cool crisp condition for qualifying as well at 108 degrees. The first pair was up with Force and Salinas. Both got off the starting line great, especially with Salinas getting a brief advantage. However, Salinas ended up smoking the tires early, and Force blew up but still advanced to the finals with an uncharacteristic 4.016 and 230.29 mph. Additionally, the John Force Racing driver was also not locked in yet for the big race slated for Monday.
For Torrence and Ashley, it was a great drag race down the strip, with the two staying side-by-side with each other. Torrence got off the line first with a reaction time of .037 and Ashley was .041. But, Torrence rocketed to a win going 3.701 and 329.10 mph to face his rival competitor Force.
In the finals, Torrence again had the quickest reaction time over Force, going .043 and Force with a .081. The Texas native never trailed Force for the win and would win by 24 feet over Force. Torrence’s et time was 3.691 and 329.02 mph was good enough to win the money and trophy in the first-ever All-Star Pep Boys Call Out.
“These Capco Boys are just unbelievable,” Torrence said of a crew led by Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr., “and, thankfully, today I was able to do my part. That’s what’s been missing this year –when the car’s been good, the driver
hasn’t, and vice-versa. Today, everybody was on his game and, hopefully, that’s something we can carry over to Monday.”
As for Torrence’s crew chief Richard Hogan, he was left speechless about the victory.
“I don’t know what to say being in the first call-out race, I’m trying not to let that affect me,” Hogan said. “(David, Force’s crew chief) Grubnic over there was going to run a 67. We did what we could and they slowed down a little bit. They weren’t qualified to enter this session and I wish they were, so they could run a little harder. However, we’ll take this victory.”
Even with the victory, Torrence puts himself at the No. 2 spot while runner-up finisher Brittany Force is now at the No. 4 spot. The California driver entered the second round of qualifying on the DNQ list where Force was 21st on the speed charts.
Qualifying continues Sunday at the U.S. Nationals with the fourth and final rounds taking place in the afternoons, and eliminations taking place on Monday morning.