NORWALK, Ohio – Spencer Massey, pay up.
Steve Torrence made a pair of friendly wagers with fellow Top Fuel driver Massey before the final qualifying session Friday night at Summit Motorsports Park – and Torrence won both.
Torrence didn't say what the pot was, but part of his prize was the provisional No 1 qualifier for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. He made a lap of 3.829 seconds at 319.98 mph to edge Antron Brown (3.832 at 321.27 mph) and Khalid AlBalooshi (3.836 at 316.67 mph) for the top spot.
"Spencer and I had two bets: Who was going to have the better reaction time, and who would get to the end first," Torrence said. "One of them was a little more on us, and the other was on the crew chiefs. I got back to the trailer and checked it out, and I think I won both sides of the bet tonight. We've got to go talk a little trash to him now."
The two were paired in Q2, with Torrence leaving first (an .049-second reaction time to Massey's .059). Torrence then put down the quickest run of the day, while Massey smoked the tires.
Johnny Gray topped the Funny Car field, with Allen Johnson No. 1 in Pro Stock and Hector Arana Sr. leading Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Torrence continued his recent surge of success, as he's reached the finals in two of the last three races, winning in Englishtown, N.J. Here in Norwalk, Torrence and the NHRA competitors faced near-100-degree heat, with a heat index approaching 110. The night session would prove to be faster, but Q1 was also important.
"It really was crucial today to make a good lap (in Q1) and be at the back of the pack (for Q2)," Torrence said. "We knew it would cool off a lot. Conditions here are so extremely hot – the track was 140 today when we ran. It was pivotal to be in the back of the pack.
"I'm a little surprised we stayed No. 1 because there were two really good cars behind us. To be there just showed that this is a team effort, and (crew chief) Richard Hogan and my whole team stepped up, and we're here to play ball."
Gray topped the Funny Car chart, but his run of 4.094 at 306.33 mph could have been a tad better.
"It was a good run," Gray said. "The car left hard, ran hard, and I thought we were going to make a good run, but almost at 3.8 seconds into the run, it knocked the tires loose and went up on the rev limiter. I just drove it to the finish line. It might've run an .08 at 312 or 313 (mph) if it hadn't have come loose. But (crew chief) Rob (Wendland) was getting all the goodie out of her; she just came loose."
Gray was still better than second-place Mike Neff (4.112 at 309.42 mph) and third-place Cruz Pedregon (4.123 at 306.67 mph).
Johnson has qualified first or second for the last seven Pro Stock races – including four No. 1s – and it appears that streak will run to eight after setting low ET in round two Friday. Johnson was quickest in the first session, run on a track over 140 degrees, and then went faster in Q2. His pass of 6.663 seconds at 207.34 mph in the Mopar Dodge was more than three-hundredths faster than second-place Jason Line, an eternity in the class.
"We're on a roll. Everything is just clicking," Johnson said. "The track was 140 degrees the first run, so you can't get after it much when it's that hot. But it cooled down to around 100, so we were able to give it some gear ratio and a little spark in the engine. Real happy with the results."
Line went 6.697 at 205.94 mph, with third-place Greg Anderson at 6.698 at 205.82 mph.
Arana Sr. has been nearly as dominant in Pro Stock Motorcycle, going No. 1 for three of the first five races of 2012. He secured the provisional No. 1 Friday with a lap of 6.962 at 188.02 mph. but Arana Sr. has concerns about the electrics in his Lucas Oil Buell.
"We made this first hit here, and we thought we found the problem," Arana said. "Of course, this last run, it did it again. I was disappointed because it felt like it left good, felt like it was going on a perfect run. Then it did that, so it's a little bit disappointing because we need to fix it. I don't want to go into eliminations with this problem."
Hector Arana Jr. (6.984 at 192.69 mph) was second, with Eddie Krawiec (7.010 at 192.08 mph) third.