• Steve Torrence notches third victory in six events to open the season
• Cruz Pedregon earns his first win in 92 races as he emerges victorious in Charlotte
• After a runner-up finish in Houston, Erica Enders bounces back with the win at zMAX Dragway
• Jerry Savoie returns to the winner’s circle for the ninth time in his career with four-wide win
Steve Torrence raced to the Top Fuel victory Sunday at the ninth annual NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.
Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also winners in their respective categories at the sixth event on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
Torrence piloted his Capco Contractors dragster to a 3.813-second pass at 326.56 mph as he became the first driver to reach three victories on the season. He defeated Doug Kalitta, Terry McMillen and Clay Millican in the final round for his 19th career win and second at zMAX Dragway.
Pedregon ran a 4.059 at 310.84 in his Snap-On Tools Toyota Camry for his 36th career victory and first since Englishtown 2014. After qualifying sixth for the event, he was able to knock off 16-time Funny Car world champion John Force, Tommy Johnson Jr. and No. 1 qualifier Courtney Force in the final round to earn the victory.
“I knew we had our work cut out for us when I pulled up to the starting line in the finals, and I actually didn’t believe my ears when my team manager told me that I won,” Pedregon said. “It was surreal, and I cannot believe that I won this race.”
In Pro Stock, Enders picked up her 23rd career victory and second win in Charlotte with a 6.535 at 212.73 in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. She took down Vincent Nobile, Chris McGaha and No. 1 qualifier Drew Skillman in the final round to lock down her first victory since Epping in 2017.
“In my opinion I have the best team in all of motorsports, so I am really lucky to be their driver,” Enders said. “We made a car change going into our home race in Houston last week and we made it to the finals, so we came into this race with some confidence and this is definitely a special victory for me.”
Jerry Savoie emerged victorious in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class, as he earned his ninth career victory and first at zMAX Dragway when he ran a 6.784 at 195.73 on his White Alligator Racing Suzuki in the final round. He bested Andrew Hines, Scotty Pollacheck and Matt Smith in the final round to lock down his first victory since Brainerd last season.
“We struggled all weekend, but my team worked really hard to get things right so we went out and gave it all we got and figured some things out,” Savoie said. “My reaction times on this bike are traditionally not great, but I was able to do pretty well today and we had the power on this bike to get a win.”
One week after earning the first No. 1 qualifier of his career in Houston, Jose Gonzalez notched his first career victory in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service portion of the NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway. This weekend’s Pro Mod racing, presented by Al-Anabi Performance, was the third of 12 events this season.
Gonzalez ran a 5.743-second pass at 254.09 mph in his Chevrolet Q80 Camaro to take down Steve Jackson, Rickie Smith and Brandon Snider in the final round. Gonzalez became the first Domincan-born driver to earn a victory at an NHRA national event with his triumph in Charlotte.
“My team gave me a tremendous car all week long and we figured out how to respond as the weather got warmer and our car continued to improve,” Gonzalez said. “This car has been running amazingly so far, so I’m happy for my car and my crew to get this victory.”
After a first round exit in Gainesville, Gonzalez notched his first No. 1 qualifier in Houston before being eliminated in the quarterfinals. He leaves Charlotte fourth in the points standings, as Smith and Jackson currently lead the class through three events.
Sunday’s final results from the ninth annual NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway. The race is the sixth of 24 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel — Steve Torrence, 3.813 seconds, 326.56 mph def. Doug Kalitta, 4.010 seconds, 278.12 mph and Terry McMillen, 4.361 seconds, 235.72 mph and Clay Millican, 5.295 seconds, 129.97 mph;
Funny Car — Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.059, 310.84 def. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.098, 307.93 and Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 4.143, 275.39 and Courtney Force, Camaro, 6.215, 114.46;
Pro Stock — Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.535, 212.73 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.520, 212.69 and Chris McGaha, Camaro, 8.237, 118.82 and Drew Skillman, Camaro, 18.515, 43.69;
Pro Stock Motorcycle — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.784, 195.73 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.873, 197.05 and Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.865, 193.79 and Matt Smith, Victory, DQ;
Pro Modified — Jose Gonzalez, Chevy Camaro, 5.743, 254.09 def. Steve Jackson, Camaro, 5.763, 243.68 and Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.775, 250.74 and Brandon Snider, Chevy Corvette, 6.393, 162.10;
Top Alcohol Dragster — Megan Meyer, 5.192, 276.29 def. Dan Page, 5.250, 276.97.
Top Alcohol Funny Car — Annie Whiteley, Chevy Camaro, 5.467, 267.59 def. DJ Cox Jr., Camaro, 6.296, 177.77.
Competition Eliminator — Frank Aragona, Dragster, 7.378, 172.83 def. Al Ackerman, Dragster, 7.983, 151.39.
Super Stock — Anthony Bertozzi, Pontiac Grand Am, 9.411, 110.71 def. Bryan Worner, Chevrolet, Foul – Red Light.
Stock Eliminator — Thomas Fletcher, Chevy Camaro, 10.228, 117.67 def. James Williamson, Camaro, 11.485, 113.49.
Super Comp — Jonathan Anderson, Dragster, 8.891, 162.78 def. Sherman Adcock, Dragster, 8.880, 166.91.
Super Gas — Ken Griffiths, Chevy Corvette, 9.884, 152.68 def. Steve Furr, Chevy Camaro, Foul – Red Light.
Factory Stock Showdown — Arthur Kohn, Chevy Camaro, 8.087, 168.56 def. David Barton, Chevy Camaro, 8.036, 167.84.
Top Dragster — Holden Laris, Dragster, 6.235, 208.71 def. Larry Roberts, Dragster, 6.104, 221.13.
Top Sportsman — Don O’Neal, Chevrolet, 6.903, 193.29 def. Sandy Wilkins, Chevy Camaro, 6.627, 208.14.
Words and photos courtesy NHRA/National Dragster