COMMERCE, Ga. — The 2012 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season was a breakout year for Top Fuel driver Steve Torrence and his Capco Racing/Torrence Motorsports dragster. In the highlight of that campaign, he raced to his first final-round appearance and defeated Tony Schumacher for his first victory at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals.
At the time, Schumacher was mired in a win drought that stretched back to the end of the 2010 season. En route to the final to meet the seven-time NHRA Mello Yello world champion, Torrence defeated J.R. Todd, Bob Vandergriff and Brandon Bernstein.
“Tony Schumacher is always tough to beat,” Torrence said. “He is an accomplished driver, and you always expect perfection. But I had confidence in my race car. We had lane choice; I thought we could do it. It was tough racing all day. I had a really competitive car, and I thought we had the car to beat. Richard Hogan, our crew chief, had a handle on the track conditions, and we were making quick runs.”
Torrence will be looking to defend his victory when the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals returns to Atlanta Dragway May 3-5. The seventh of 24 events in the 2013 season will feature competition in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock and be televised on ESPN2HD. Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) are also defending event winners.
For Torrence, racing is a family affair. He got started in the sport as a teenager in the Super Comp ranks with his father at his side, so the presence of his dad at the 2012 event sweetened his win.
“It was unbelievable,” Torrence said. “All of the hard work we put into putting the team together all paid off that day. And it was made more special because my dad was with me.”
Torrence and his team won two more events last year (in Seattle and Englishtown, N.J.) and qualified for the Countdown to the Championship for the first time. Though the victories didn’t come easier following his first triumph, they did raise the spirits of the team.
“Nothing is ever easy because every driver wants to win,” Torrence said. “I have gained confidence because this team proved that we can win races. I had to pedal the car on almost every run in Seattle to get the win, and I had two holeshot wins in Englishtown.”
This season Torrence finds himself just outside the top 10 in the points standings with his best efforts being a pair of quarterfinal finishes. He hopes a season turnaround might happen in Atlanta.
“We need to get our car running like it was last year at this time,” Torrence said.
The Top Fuel category has seen some incredible racing thus far this season with Tony Schumacher holding the series lead over his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Antron Brown. Houston winner and local favorite Bob Vandergriff will have plenty of family and friends cheering him on. Others to watch in the Top Fuel category include Spencer Massey, Doug Kalitta, Brandon Bernstein, Shawn Langdon, Morgan Lucas, Dave Grubnic and Khalid alBalooshi.
In Funny Car, Courtney Force in her sophomore season has raced to two final round appearances this season and won the season-opening event in Pomona. Two-time season winner Cruz Pedregon, Del Worsham, Robert Hight and defending event winner Ron Capps are all looking for another Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals victory.
The Pro Stock category is once again shaping up to be a tight battle with Mike Edwards holding the series lead over defending world champ Allen Johnson. Jeg Coughlin, Vincent Nobile, Shane Gray and Erica Enders-Stevens are among the pre-race favorites in the 200-mph factory hot rod category.
The NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series also will thrill the crowds during the weekend with intense side-by-side competition.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers because every ticket is an exclusive pit pass, allowing them to see firsthand the highly skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds. Spectators also won’t want to miss the popular interactive NHRA Nitro Alley and the NHRA Manufacturers Midway.
For the second consecutive year, fans can take advantage of an exciting ticket offer: NHRA is offering a special NHRA Fan Pack that includes two Tier 2 reserved adult tickets and a preferred parking pass. This allows the easiest access into Atlanta Dragway via a separate gate entrance and provides parking in the nearest lot next to the main ticket office. Other Fan Pack benefits include two hot dogs and Cokes, one NHRA Fan Guide, and a waived service fee on each transaction. Limited quantities are available for each race day. Friday’s NHRA Fan Pack is only $80, and the Saturday or Sunday Pack is just $112.
• SCHEDULE: NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 3, and will continue Saturday, May 4, at 1 and 2:30 p.m. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 5.
• TICKETS: For tickets, log on to www.NHRATix.com or call the NHRA Ticket Sales Center at (800) 884-NHRA (6472).
• TELEVISION: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 8 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, May 4, and three hours of eliminations coverage at 6:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, May 5.
• ON THE WEB: Get instant results, access to photos, video and audio clips and the latest news updates from every NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event on the Internet at www.NHRA.com.
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SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 33rd annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, the seventh of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in three categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock – earn points leading to 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Atlanta Dragway, Commerce, Ga. I-85 to Exit 149 (Hwy 441). After exiting the freeway, go north on Highway 441 to Steven Tanger Blvd. Take left on Tanger and then go right on Ridgeway Road.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, May 3-5
FRIDAY, May 3 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, May 4- LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, May 5 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, May 4, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 8 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, May 5, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours of coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. (ET).
SATELLITE (Digital HD feed):
Friday, May 3, 9 - 9:30 p.m. (ET), SES 2 / Transponder 05C
Saturday, May 4, 7:30 - 8 p.m. (ET), SES 2 / Transponder 05C
Sunday, May 5, 7 - 7:30 p.m. (ET), SES 2 / Transponder 05C
(3800 MHz, horizontal; Data Rate: 40.46147055 Mbp; Symbol Rate: 29.27 Ms; FEC: ¾; Bandwidth: 36 Mhz)
Video news release contains race action highlights each day and winners’ interviews on Sunday.
2012 EVENT WINNERS: Steve Torrence, Top Fuel; Ron Capps, Funny Car; Greg Anderson, Pro Stock
MOST VICTORIES: Dave Schultz, 8, PSM; John Force, 7, FC; Warren Johnson, 5, PS; Kenny Bernstein, 4, TF/FC; Larry Dixon, 4, TF; Angelle Sampey, 4, PSM; Greg Anderson, 4, PS; Lee Shepherd, 4, PS.
Top Fuel - 3.815 seconds by Tony Schumacher, May ’12; 323.19 mph by Spencer Massey, May ’11.
Funny Car - 4.072 seconds by John Force, May ’11; 312.13 mph by Ashley Force Hood, April ’09.
Pro Stock - 6.557 seconds by Greg Anderson, April ’09; 211.26 mph by Warren Johnson, April ’09.
Top Fuel - 3.701 sec. by Antron Brown, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 332.18 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’12, Charlotte, N.C.
Funny Car - 3.986 sec. by Jack Beckman, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 320.58 mph by Beckman, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.
Pro Stock - 6.471 sec. by Mike Edwards, April ’13, Charlotte, N.C.; 214.35 mph by Jason Line, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.
TICKETS: For tickets call NHRA at (800) 884-6472, or visit www.NHRATIX.com.
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NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, Calif. -- Point standings (top 10) following the sixth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel: 1. Tony Schumacher, 510; 2. Antron Brown, 440; 3. Shawn Langdon, 423; 4. Spencer Massey, 413; 5. Morgan Lucas, 347; 6. (tie) Khalid alBalooshi, 333; Doug Kalitta, 333; 8. Bob Vandergriff, 295; 9. Brandon Bernstein, 281; 10. David Grubnic, 250.
Funny Car: 1. Cruz Pedregon, 470; 2. Matt Hagan, 433; 3. Courtney Force, 384; 4. Ron Capps, 381; 5. Johnny Gray, 362; 6. Tim Wilkerson, 348; 7. Jack Beckman, 318; 8. Robert Hight, 308; 9. Alexis DeJoria, 295; 10. Bob Tasca III, 293.
Pro Stock: 1. Mike Edwards, 532; 2. Allen Johnson, 465; 3. (tie) Jeg Coughlin, 450; Erica Enders-Stevens, 450; 5. Jason Line, 419; 6. Vincent Nobile, 361; 7. Shane Gray, 327; 8. V. Gaines, 317; 9. Greg Anderson, 304; 10. Greg Stanfield, 270.
Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Hector Arana Jr, 375; 2. Scotty Pollacheck, 256; 3. John Hall, 187; 4. (tie) Hector Arana, 174; Eddie Krawiec, 174; 6. Steve Johnson, 159; 7. Andrew Hines, 144; 8. Michael Ray, 141; 9. Jim Underdahl, 136; 10. Matt Smith, 133.