The winner’s circle at Sunday’s NHRA New England Nationals must have felt familiar for everybody on hand.
For starters, Funny Car driver Matt Hagan took his third victory at New England Dragway in a row, as well as the fourth straight for Don Schumacher Racing, when he took down Shawn Langdon in the final. Then, Steve Torrence continued his manhandling of the Top Fuel class by defeating Scott Palmer in the last showdown of the day, scoring his seventh Wally in the past eight events in the process and successfully defending last year’s win in Epping as well.
“You say it time and time again, and I’m the guy who comes up to talk to the fans and be the mouthpiece for these Capco boys, but at the end of the day, I just have to step on the gas when the light comes on and not run over anything or anybody until I get to the end,” Torrence said. “Our guys give me a racecar that is hands down the best racecar I’ve ever driven, and arguably one of the best racecars that’s been out here in quite a few years. It’s truly humbling and an honor to be able to drive that racecar. I’m just fortunate enough to be in the seat.”
Torrence’s winning streak might have been in doubt if you had only considered qualifying. He only seeded ninth for Sunday’s eliminations, but responded by immediately throwing down the fastest pass of the weekend at 3.756/328.62 MPH to dispatch Austin Prock in the first round. Subsequent victories against Terry McMillen and Richie Crampton set up Torrence’s 50th career final round appearance and his 34th career victory.
As for Hagan, he was part of a cluster of 11 drivers within a tenth of a second of each other in qualifying, and came out sixth after Sunday’s final pass was washed out. He took down DSR teammates Jack Beckman and Ron Capps in the first two rounds before ending local favorite Bob Tasca III’s hopes for a third straight win in the class and securing lane choice over Langdon for the final round by .006 seconds.
“I’ll tell you what, I wish all of the racetracks were like this,” said Hagan. “It’s a great racetrack, with great fans who stay out here in the heat with us. The last couple of days have been a bit brutal, but when you see those fans out there when it’s 100 degrees, you know they really love the sport.
Only five races remain in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season before the Countdown to the Championship kicks off. The next race will see teams head to Colorado’s Bandimere Speedway for the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals on July 19-21. Leah Pritchett, John Force, Greg Anderson, and Hector Arana Jr. are the defending winners.
Check out our gallery from New England Dragway below!