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Texas drag racers Torrence, Enders score big victories at NHRA Midwest Nationals

by Mike Haag | Posted on Sunday, September 26th, 2021

By Mike Haag, Raceday San Antonio

Texas natives Steve Torrence and Erica Enders scored critical victories on Sunday at the Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis.

Steve Torrence. 10th Annual NHRA Midwest Nationals. NHRA photo

Torrence, the defending NHRA Top Fuel champion, along with Enders, the defending NHRA Pro Stock champion, both won in their respective classes and made a loud statement that they are prepared to defend their titles as the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series heads to Texas for the NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex near Dallas on October 7-10.

In the NHRA Top Fuel final round, Torrence went the distance in 3.736 seconds, 328.78 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster to defeat No. 1 qualifier Mike Salinas, who crossed the finish line at 3.996 seconds, 226.70 mph.  The victory was Torrence’s ninth this season and 49th of his career.

“Thankfully, I’ve got the best team in the business,” Torrence said.  “We’ve raced the Countdown together for a lot of years, so we know the drill.  The only thing I need to know is that no matter what everyone else is doing around us, these Capco boys always send me to the line with a car that can win.”

Steve Torrence. 10th Annual NHRA Midwest Nationals. NHRA photo

Torrence leads the NHRA Top Fuel points standings by 36 points over Brittany Force.  Torrence’s father, Billy Torrence is ranked third, Mike Salinas is fourth and Justin Ashley is fifth.  Rounding out the top 10 are Leah Pruett, Antron Brown, Shawn Langdon, Clay Millican and Doug Kalitta.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned the last five seasons,” Torrence said, “it’s that you can’t get caught up in the points conversation.  That’ll drive you a little crazy.  The only time the points really matter is at Pomona in November.  Right now, we just have to stay focused and do our jobs.  If we do that, the points will take care of themselves.”

Torrence marched to the final round Sunday by defeating Shawn Langdon, Antron Brown and Josh Hart, who won last weekend, to advance to the final round.  Salinas reached the final round for the second time this season and seventh in his career by defeating Kyle Wurtzel, Tripp Tatum and Leah Pruett.

“It’s not just me and Brittany out there,” Torrence said.  “You saw what Mike did this weekend.  They ran great and he drove great.  They’re going to have something to say about who wins before it’s all over.  Antron (Brown) has kicked my butt more often than I want to remember and all these kids, Josh Hart and Justin (Ashley), they’re trying to make a name for themselves, so they’re always dangerous.”

This was Torrence’s first victory since the playoffs began two weeks ago in Reading.  With the victory this now marks the 10th time Torrence has won a Countdown playoff race.  He joins Antron Brown and Tony Schumacher as the only Top Fuel drivers with double digit playoff victories.  Torrence is also aiming for a fourth Top Fuel championship. Should he go on to win the title this season, Torrence would join Schumacher, Don “the Snake” Prudhomme, Kenny Bernstein, Bob Glidden, Lee Shepherd and John Force, who all have won four or more consecutive championships.

“You’ve got to be consistent on raceday and go out and do your job,” Torrence said. “Some days you’re better to be lucky than good and that’s where we were at today. We’re pretty confident in our car and our ability to do our jobs. You’ve got to win races on raceday. The continuity of this team, the way we work together, it just makes you better.”

Erica Enders. 10th Annual NHRA Midwest Nationals. NHRA photo

In the NHRA Pro Stock division, Erica Enders defeated Dallas Glenn in the final round to win her fourth race of the season in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.

Enders posted a 6.572, 207.24 mph run.  Glenn crossed the stripe in 6.583 at 208.85. His reaction time was .001 and the margin of victory was .002.

“It was an awesome day and St. Louis has just been really good to us,” Enders said. “It’s always been great to me and we’ve won here quite a bit. I’m grateful to come here and we’ve put ourselves back in striking distance of Greg, and we’ve just got to go to work. We rose to the occasion today as a group and I’m proud of it. It’s going to take a lot of work to compete for this fifth championship, but I think I’ve got the best guys in the world to do that.”

Enders reached the final round by defeating Bo Butner, Aaron Stanfield and Mason McGaha.  Glenn marched to his fourth final round by defeating Cristian Cuadra, Rodger Brogdon and Chris McGaha.

Erica Enders. 10th Annual NHRA Midwest Nationals. NHRA photo

With the victory (her fifth at St. Louis), Enders now trails Greg Anderson by 17 points in the championship standings. Kyle Koretsky is 80 points back in third, followed by Dallas Glenn in fourth and Aaron Stanfield in fifth. Rounding out the top 10 areTroy Coughlin Jr., Mason McGaha, Chris McGaha, Matt Hartford and Deric Kramer.

Both Enders and Anderson are seeking their fifth world title. Enders’ victory was also her 33rd career win and third straight at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Media Center Interviews:

Steve Torrence – 

 

Erica Enders – 

About the Author

Mike Haag has covered motorsports in San Antonio and South Texas for more than 34 years. In addition to covering motorsports for the San Antonio Express-News for nearly 28 years, Mike also has co-hosted TrackSmack with Dawn Murphy for 17 race seasons. In addition to being a writer, Mike taught high school English and Journalism for 30 years before retiring in May, 2020.