TORRENCE STUMBLES IN ROUND TWO AT FINALS
Steve, Billy Both Post Career Best Numbers at Pomona
November 15, 2015 -- Despite ringing up career bests of 3.717 seconds and 329.99 miles per hour at the 1,000 foot distance and despite posting the quickest time in each of the first two rounds of eliminations, Steve Torrence’s bid for a Top 5 finish in Mello Yello points disintegrated Sunday at Auto Club Raceway where his Capco Contractors dragster bowed out in the quarterfinals of the 51st annual Auto Club Finals.
It was a day of incredible highs and devastating lows for the 32-year-old Texan who, after starting the day in sixth place in NHRA Top Fuel points, finished in the No. 8 spot, two positions removed from last year’s best-ever showing. The result likely will send the five-time pro tour winner into the off-season full of “what-might-have-beens.”
After working through Friday problems while watching his dad, Billy, grab the provisional qualifying spotlight with a personal best time of 3.726 seconds and a best career speed of 331.61 miles per hour, the younger Torrence rallied on Saturday to get into the 16-car lineup. Nevertheless, he started only eighth, his worst qualifying effort during the entire six-race Countdown.
On Sunday, though, it looked like it might be a Torrence two-step. After Billy Torrence took down journeyman Terry McMillen with a time of 3.745 seconds at 328.46 mph to earn the choice of lanes against second round foe Doug Kalitta, his son unloaded what at the time was a best-of-the-event 3.720 to send Top Fuel rookie Dave Connolly back to the trailer.
The run was quick enough by a mere .001 of a second to give the Capco driver his choice of lanes for a showdown with 2013 and 2015 champion Antron Brown to whom he had lost in 14 previous meetings.
Things began to unravel quickly in round two, though, when Billy Torrence was victimized by tire shake against Kalitta and Steve was victimized by his own intensity against Brown.
The younger Torrence’s ouster was a particularly bitter pill. Although he ran career best numbers including a speed that was only a tick away from 330 miles-an-hour, Torrence was guilty of a gut-wrenching foul start that negated his big numbers.
“I hate it for (crew chief) Richard Hogan, for A.J. (consultant Alan Johnson) and my guys,” Torrence said. “No excuses. I was just amped up against Antron. I knew he would be on the lights and I knew what they could run (which eventually was a best-of-the-race 3.700 in the semifinals). I just made a mistake. That’s it. Two great race cars today and it’s gonna be a long winter till we can get back out here and get a chance to put this behind us.”
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