TORRENCE LOCKS UP A SPOT IN THE PLAYOFFS
Capco Contractors Driver Bows Out in Quarterfinals at Rain-Plagued Brainerd
August 14, 2014 -- It didn’t happen with the fanfare he would have liked, but Steve Torrence still left Brainerd International Raceway Sunday night secure in the knowledge that when the NHRA’s Countdown begins next month, he will be one of those racing for the Mello Yello Top Fuel Championship and the $500,000 bonus that accompanies it.
Simply by qualifying for Sunday’s 33rd annual Lucas Oil Nationals, Torrence stamped his ticket into the playoffs. All that remains to be determined is his starting position. If the six-race showdown began today, the 31-year-old Texan would start from the No. 5 spot. His goal when he gets to Indianapolis in two weeks will be to hold on to that position.
Although he struggled in qualifying and could muster only the 13th quickest preliminary time, Torrence scored a major upset in the first round by using his starting line skills to overcome a slightly slower track time against No. 4 qualifier Richie Crampton.
After qualifying his Capco Contractors hot rod at 3.904 seconds, the former NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion (2005) stepped things up in round one with a time of 3.773 seconds, his best ever at BIR.
Crampton, who lost the reaction time duel, was slightly quicker at 3.766 and raced to a track record speed of 328.54 miles per hour in a futile attempt to run Torrence down at the finish.
Unfortunately, after a lengthy rain delay, Torrence ran up against the buzz saw that was Crampton’s boss and teammate, Morgan Lucas. In fact, after taking out the Texan, Lucas marched aggressively through the field and capped his performance by beating points leader Doug Kalitta in the final.
“Not a bad day,” Torrence said. “We got behind a little in qualifying but I don’t think anybody had anything for Morgan today. They were playing hardball out there. We’ll just go and get ready for Indy (and the Labor Day U.S. Nationals) and the Countdown.”
Torrence has done well at Indy. In fact, he is the track record holder for speed at 328.38 mph and was the Top Fuel runner-up last year to Shawn Langdon, who went on to win the championship. He won the world’s biggest drag race in his drive to the 2005 Top Alcohol championship.
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