If you’ve been waiting for a repeat winner in this year’s NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship, you finally got two at Texas Motorplex—but they probably weren’t who you thought they’d be.
Jerry Savoie knocked out heavyweights Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec in the final two rounds of Pro Stock Motorcycle action in the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals to win his third race of the season and second of the Countdown. Not long after, Top Fuel driver Billy Torrence—not his son and defending champion Steve—scored his own second Wally of the Countdown by defeating rookie Jordan Vandergriff.
Savoie and Torrence were joined by Funny Car winner Matt Hagan and Pro Stock winner Greg Anderson on stage as this year’s playoffs continue to prove unpredictable. Hagan’s streak of four straight 3.90 runs in elimination rounds took him to a victory in the final, where he defeated Bob Tasca III, while Anderson scored his 94th career Pro Stock win by defeating Maple Grove winner Jason Line, points leader Erica Enders, and Charlotte winner Deric Kramer before taking down Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the final round.
Still, despite the new winners, the points leads didn’t change hands in any of the NHRA’s big four classes in Texas. In Top Fuel, Steve Torrence still leads Doug Kalitta by a 33-point margin, though Billy Torrence is now up to fourth. Anderson’s Pro Stock win only allowed him to climb to seventh in points, but it kept Enders in check, as her lead is just 28 over Matt Hartford. Robert Hight remains the class of the Funny Car field with a 70-point advantage over Jack Beckman, and Hines still boasts the biggest advantage of all with 81 points over Karen Stoffer and 94 over Savoie in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
The NHRA’s top teams now have two weeks to prepare for the penultimate round of the 2019 championship, the Dodge NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Steve Torrence, JR Todd, Bo Butner, and Hector Arana Jr. are the defending winners of the event, and all but Torrence replicated the feat earlier this year in Las Vegas’ four-wide event; Mike Salinas was the Top Fuel winner of that race.