Connect with us


Kalitta is Top Qualifier in Epping, Torrence Takes Mission Foods Challenge

Doug Kalitta claimed the top spot in Top Fuel qualifying at the New England Nationals.

Defending Top Fuel champion Doug Kalitta earned the No. 1 qualifying spot for Sunday’s NHRA New England Nationals. (photo: Allen Saucier | The Podium Finish)

EPPING, N.H. – Doug Kalitta and Steve Torrence are both NHRA Top Fuel champions, but so far in 2024 the two have not had the consistent results they expect. This weekend in Epping, New Hampshire, both men seem poised to regain championship form.

On Friday night, Kalitta set the number one qualifying time of the weekend, and that time held up to earn him the top spot entering race day, while Torrence qualified No. 2, and took the win in Saturday’s Mission Foods 2 Fast, 2 Tasty Challenge.

“The track was pretty good here,” Kalitta said. “We messed around on the first (round of qualifying) trying to find the edge and we did. We got down the track on the second run.”

Fridays and Saturdays haven’t been a struggle for Kalitta so far this year, as he notched his third number one qualifier in the past four races. On Sunday’s however, he has only been able to parlay one of those strong qualifying performances into race wins, something he aims to change on Sunday.

Kalitta looks for race track sweep in Epping

With his 2023 Top Fuel championship, has nearly every trophy there is to earn in the NHRA. The only unchecked box for the Top Fuel legend, is a win at Epping.

“This is a track that I’m definitely on the radar to try get to the final and get another shot at winning,” said Kalitta. “It’s a cool place. The history here is incredible.”

He said Friday’s 3.700 second run is cause for hope, but noted that weather conditions will be much different on Sunday than they were on Friday night when he set fast time.

“I feel good (about tomorrow),” Kalitta said. “I’m really confident with what we’ve got. My guys have been really working well with this thing. We’ve had three low qualifiers in the last few races, so I’ve definitely got a good car behind me. I just need to make it happen and go the rounds on Sunday.”

Steve Torrence qualified No. 2 and won the Top Fuel Mission Foods 2 Fast, 2 Tasty Challenge in Epping, N.H., this weekend.

Steve Torrence picked up a win in the Mission Foods 2 Fast, 2 Tasty challenge at New England Dragway on Saturday. (photo: Allen Saucier | The Podium Finish)

Torrence takes No. 2 spot along with Mission 2 Fast, 2 Tasty crown

Although Kalitta stole the show on Friday night, Torrence was close behind, turning in a 3.702 lap to earn the second spot on the Top Fuel ladder. On Saturday, Torrence continued his strong weekend at the track where he has won three times, by picking up the win in the Mission Foods 2 Fast, 2 Tasty Challenge.

“I’m really happy we won,” Torrence said. “But I’m also really happy that we got two really good runs down the track today, and that will parlay into information for tomorrow to try to get the race win tomorrow.”

In the first round of the Mission Foods 2 Fast, 2 Tasty Challenge, Torrence took out his good friend, and Route 66 Nationals winner Antron Brown. In the second round he squared off with Dan Mercier, who was competing in the challenge for the first time.

“The semi-final matchup last race, with Antron, was a great race. Same thing today,” Torrence said. “Going up against AB you’ve got to be on your game. Same thing with Dan Mercier. That car is turned around. Those guys have really done a great job tuning the car and they’re running well.”

Torrence has two wins at New England Dragway, and his teammate – and father – Billy Torrence has a win as well, but he said the team can’t rest on past successes and hope to continue winning.

“You’ve got to approach every one as its own individual race,” he said. “We have had some success here. I’ve won here a couple times. My dad won here. Typically in the past we’ve done really well at race tracks where it’s difficult to navigate.”

Tricky navigation could be the story of the day on Sunday, as the weather continues to heat up in southeastern New Hampshire. But Torrence said his team has shifted from being more successful in those tricky conditions, to being stronger when conditions are better, as they were on Friday night.

“Over the last couple years we’ve developed a setup that is more conducive to running really fast when (the track is) good,” he said. “Now we’re working on being able to tame that. I’m happy to see the results that we’re having right now.”

Sunday’s Round One Matchups

Race day pairings for top fuel will see Kalitta taking on number 16 qualifier Scott Farley; No. 2 Steve Torrence vs. No. 15 Smax Smith; No. 3 Brittany Force vs. No. 14 Tony Schumacher; No. 4 Shawn Langdon vs. No. 13 Shawn Reed; No. 5 Billy Torrence vs. No. 12 Jasmine Salinas; No. 6 Justin Ashley vs. No. 11 Josh Hart; No. 7 Clay Millican vs. No. 10 Dan Mercier; and No. 8 Tony Stewart vs. No. 9 Antron Brown.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in NHRA