TORRENCE AIMS HIGH AS COUNTDOWN SPEEDS TO CLOSE
Capco Contractors Top Fuel Driver In Third Place Going into Toyota Nationals at Vegas
October 29, 2014 --Refreshed and just a little bit antsy after a three week break from the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship, Texan Steve Torrence goes back to work this week at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway where he will pursue the Top Fuel title in the 14th annual Toyota Nationals.
Even though veteran Tony Schumacher has turned the race for the $500,000 Mello Yello championship into something of a runaway after winning three of the first four Countdown races, Torrence is not without incentive in the season’s final two events.
Currently third in the Mello Yello driver standings, the 31-year-old cancer survivor knows that No. 2 not only is a possible finishing position for his Capco Contractors dragster, it’s a realistic one.
“Tony’s out there by himself but there are a whole bunch of guys right behind him racing for position,” Torrence said. “As a family racing team, we’re just glad to be in the hunt racing against these guys. It’s amazing that even though we haven’t won a race this year, we’re just nine points behind Doug (Kalitta) going to Vegas.
“To tell you the truth, I can’t wait to get back in my hot rod,” admitted the 2005 NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster Champion. “We were on a pretty good roll there and three weeks is an awful long time between races, especially in the Countdown.”
Although he is virtually certain of securing the best overall finish of his career (he was eighth in 2010), Torrence has much more in mind.
Certainly, he wants to finish as high in the points as possible. However, he still has hopes of ending a season-long victory drought. Although he has won four times since moving up to Top Fuel, he hasn’t celebrated in the winners’ circle for more than a calendar year, last winning at Bristol, Tenn., in 2013.
“It’s been frustrating,” he said, “because we’ve had a car that could have won a lot of races. It just shows how competitive it is in Top Fuel right now. We’re not going to change anything. We’re just going to go back to work and do what we’ve been doing. We’re overdue, that’s for sure.”
Although he hasn’t been to the winners’ circle, Torrence has won 26 rounds this season, three short of his career best, and he’s earned more qualifying bonus points than anyone other than Kalitta.
He’s gone to the semifinals nine times, was runner-up at the sport’s biggest single event, the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind., has started No. 1 (in the O’Reilly Spring Nationals at Houston) and has been as high as No. 2 in Mello Yello points.
Moreover, at the last three races, all of them Countdown events, the graduate of Kilgore College has lost to Shawn Langdon, Antron Brown and Schumacher, drivers who, between them, have won the last two championships and the nine times overall.
That’s not bad company.
“I’m proud of my guys. They’ve worked their tails off this year,” the avid outdoorsman said of his crew members, “and, so far, there hasn’t been much to show for it. We’re gonna try to change that this week but, if we don’t, it’s still been a great season.”
The team’s second Capco-backed dragster will return to competition this week with company founder and CEO Billy Torrence, Steve’s dad, at the controls. Although the elder Torrence has been an infrequent performer on the tour, he currently is 19th in points after qualifying as high as No. 4 (at Charlotte, N.C.)
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