The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series made its annual trip to Pomona in Southern California for the final race of the 2018 championship season this past weekend. Champions were crowned over the course of the weekend and one racer would set the new high standard for the six race playoffs.
In Top Fuel, Steve Torrence and his Capco Contractors team came in with a perfect 20-0 round record with just four rounds of racing to go. Torrence had already secured his first ever Top Fuel World Championship two weeks ago in Las Vegas, now all eyes were on him to see if he could sweep the playoffs. He would qualify in the number two position with a solid 3.661 @ 330 mph. In the opening round he would take down rookie Top Fuel driver Cameron Ferre with his worst run of eliminations 3.995 @ 322 mph. The next round of racing he whipped up on his dad Billy Torrence with low elapse time of the round 3.674 @ 331 mph to 3.712 @ 329 mph. His semifinal round opponent was the reigning series champion Brittany Force. Force would fall a tad bit short with her 3.708 @ 332 mph to Torrence’s 3.705 @ 328 mph. Torrence just needed one more round to be perfect through the playoffs. In the final round he would take on no other than the eight-time series champion and the winningest Top Fuel driver in history, Tony Schumacher. It took all of Torrence’s skill to take down Schumacher as he cut the best reaction time of eliminations with a .029 to a .053, he would need every bit of it to hold off Schumacher. Schumacher posted a 3.700 @ 331 mph to Torrence’s 3.702 @ 330 mph. This was Torrence’s 11th win of the 2018 season and 27th of his Top Fuel career.
In Funny Car the title would be decided in the opening round. Robert Hight, second in the points, was in the second pair of cars to come onto the track. Hight would take on Bob Tasca and his Motorcraft Ford Mustang. Hight’s title hopes ended the moment he stepped foot on the throttle, the car launched and began to spin the tires losing traction and all Hight could do was watch his title hopes fly down the racing surface in front of him as Tasca took the win light thus clinching the title for JR Todd, who was in the next pair of cars. Todd would take his DHL Toyota and march through the field taking down Jim Campbell in round one, Bob Tasca in round two, Ron Capps in semifinals and to cap off his championship he took down Tommy Johnson in the final round. It was his sixth win of the 2018 season and 17th of his career.
Pro Stock saw Tanner Gray capture his first career title on Saturday by simply qualifying for the event. Gray would then score the event win on Sunday as a final farewell to NHRA Pro Stock racing as he made the announcement earlier in the season he would be making the switch to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for the 2019 season. He mowed down the field taking on his dad Shane Gray in the opening round, Erica Enders in round two, Jason Line in the semifinals, and finally finishing off with Drew Skillman in the finals. He captured his eighth win of the season and 13th of his career.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, the title would come down to one run between number one and two in the points; winner take all. In the final round Matt Smith would take on Eddie Krawiec for the season championship and the event title. Both riders left the starting line with identical .026 reaction times, but it would be all Smith as he laid down the best run of eliminations 6.765 @ 201 mph to a 6.812 @ 198 mph capturing his third world championship and 22nd career win.
The NHRA will kick off 2019 back in Pomona in February.