As the Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing Series heads to Texas, one thing is starting to get clearer, the Top Fuel championship race is down to a three driver battle. In my opinion, Steve Torrence, Doug Kalitta and Brittany Force are going to be the favorites to duke it out of the final three rounds. Currently, Torrence leads Kalitta by 42 points and Force by 83. While Antron Brown (-94), Clay Millican (-141), Tony Schumacher (-142) and Leah Pritchett (-152) are all more than capable of making a final push for the title, I don’t see it happening.
First off, Torrence is back on a terror. He just won his eighth event of the season at St. Louis and has made it to three final rounds over the last four races. In fact, he has 11 final round appearances over the last 17 events of the season. I don’t see him tapering off any time soon. So, in order to make up any ground and only having three races to go so too, you have to be within striking distance and consistent.
Kalitta, is both. He has two final round appearances over the last three events and is 42 points out. But, he also was a second round exit in six of the last eight events too.
Force, just won at Reading two events ago, but she has also had four defeats in the first or second round over the last six events too. She has the capability to regain her early season magic and is also within striking distance. But, it has to happen quickly.
The others, they’re likely too far back and far too inconsistent lately.
Brown and Schumacher are past champions, but they’ve struggled mightily lately. Brown, entered Indy with five straight final round appearances, but he hasn’t made it past the semifinals in the four races since. He’s slipped from first to fourth in the standings over that span.
Schumacher, has three straight second round defeats and has made it past the second round just twice over the last 14 events. His last final round appearance came in Atlanta.
Millican, has been fast with three No. 1 qualifiers over the last four events, but that hasn’t translated to success in the ladder. He hasn’t made it past the second round in any of those three top qualifier weekends. In fact, he hasn’t been to the final round since Bristol some 11 races ago.
Pritchett, has been eliminated from the first or second round in three straight events and hasn’t made it past the semifinals in six of the last races. Does hers or any one else’s chances sound like a championship winning factor?
That’s why this is really a three horse race with it being Torrence’s to lose.