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Santo Rapisarda Jr. was denied the ideal 23rd birthday present when Texan Steve Torrence beat Wayne Newby in a first round thriller in the Auto Club NHRA finals at Pomona Raceway.

Torrence took the win with a pass of 3.73/522 kph - Newby running a 3.77/523 kph.

Newby’s time was seventh fastest in first round and his reaction time of .57 was the third quickest.

“On race day everyone wants to win and to come so close is disappointing,” said Rapisarda Jr. “A 3.77 is usually good enough to take the win. Everything went well on the run and Wayne’s reaction time was a sensational .57 sec, the third fastest of the round."

“The car came home in one piece with no damaged parts. That’s a credit to the crew who performed brilliantly over the weekend.”

“The last three of weeks has been a bit of a blur racing in Las Vegas, Sydney and Pomona. I think its time to go home for a rest.”

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