• Funny Car's J.R. Todd moves into points lead with second straight win
• Top Fuel's Torrence keeps points lead with sixth win of the season
• Vincent Nobile grabs third victory of 2018 in Pro Stock
• Pro Stock Motorcycle's H. Arana Jr. earns second win of year
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also winners in their respective categories at the first of six playoff events during the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.
"It's awesome to keep the momentum going, but we've got a long road ahead of us," said Todd, who also has a Top Fuel win at the track. "These guys know how to win. A lot of them were there for the 2015 championship with Del Worsham, and we just want to keep winning. It was nice to come out with a win and now we just have to keep it rolling. We had a really good car and they just go up there and race smart, and not beat ourselves. The consistency is really coming around."
Todd beat Bob Tasca, Mike Smith and defending event winner Ron Capps to reach the final round. Wilkerson beat Terry Haddock, John Force and Hight to secure his 41st career final round and move to sixth in the points standings.
"We're not here to be second-best," Torrence said. "Winning the championship is fresh on our minds and we want to do everything we can to solidify that. I think this is a great way to start the Countdown. We're here to win and that's the only job we have. We're going to have to do everything we can to win and just stay focused on what we're doing. We've got a little bit of a lead and we need to maintain that, and keep going in that direction."
Eight-time world champion Schumacher advanced to his seventh career final round at Maple Grove Raceway and 152nd in his career after defeating Dave Mercier, Scott Palmer and Antron Brown on Sunday, moving into a tie for second in points with Millican.
"All in all, what a great way to start the Countdown," Nobile said. "If you really look at it, every single team out here can win the race. It's just a matter of who has their stuff together the best that weekend. You just have to do the best you can. I think we have a pretty good racecar and as long as we can be in the top six in qualifying, I think we can get the job done."
Skillman was seeking his first victory of the 2018 season, but did climb to fifth in points after beating Fernando Cuadra, defending world champion and event winner Bo Butner, and points leader Tanner Gray on Sunday. Gray maintained his points lead and currently holds an 18-point advantage over Nobile.
"What matter are the wins in the Countdown and that's what we're working on," said Arana Jr., who earned his second win at the facility. "We're working on consistency and we've been working on that all year. We've got a strong championship contender with this bike and I can't thank my team enough. They work super, super hard. We're definitely working really hard for a championship."
Smith's path to his 47th career final round included victories against John Hall, Steve Johnson and LE Tonglet, as he improved to third in the points standings.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues Sept. 21-23 with the second race in the Countdown to the Championship, the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill.
Sunday's final results from the 34th annual Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. The race is the 19th of 24 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series-
Top Fuel -- Steve Torrence, 3.819 seconds, 325.45 mph def. Tony Schumacher, 4.196 seconds, 234.82 mph.
Funny Car -- J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.972, 319.90 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.196, 249.95.
Pro Stock -- Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 6.586, 210.01 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.580, 211.53.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.842, 197.74 def. Matt Smith, EBR, 7.306, 145.88.
Top Alcohol Dragster -- Troy Coughlin Jr., 5.328, 272.89 def. Josh Hart, 5.366, 273.66.
Top Alcohol Funny Car -- Sean Bellemeur, Chevy Camaro, 5.489, 268.28 def. Phil Burkart, Camaro, 5.745, 261.52.
Competition Eliminator -- Tom Martino, Chevy Cobalt, 8.652, 147.13 def. Jay Schonberger, Olds Cutlass, 8.184, 160.94.
Super Stock -- Anthony Bertozzi, Pontiac Grand Am, 9.062, 135.46 def. Anthony Bongiovanni, Ford Mustang, 8.919, 153.30.
Stock Eliminator -- Shane Oakes, Camaro, 11.144, 113.83 def. Anthony Fetch, Camaro, 10.075, 118.21.
Super Comp -- Mike Robilotto, Dragster, 9.027, 174.96 def. Chris Garretson, Dragster, 8.893, 129.23.
Super Gas -- Ray Sawyer, Chevy Camaro, 9.932, 175.62 def. Dale Koncen, Chevy Corvette, Foul - Red Light.