TORRENCE AIMS FOR FIRST WIN AT SONOMA
CAPCO/RIO Dragster Going for Eighth No. 1 Start
July 28, 2016 -- With a new bullet in the chamber, Steve Torrence draws down this week on Sonoma Raceway, site starting Friday of the 29th annual Toyota Sonoma Nationals, the only event in the three-race Western Swing in which he has not yet celebrated a Top Fuel victory.
After his bid to repeat as champion at last Sunday’s Mopar Mile-High Nationals ended in an uncharacteristic second round fireball, Torrence is hoping this week to keep his explosive performance more figurative than literal.
“We had a perfect hot rod,” the 33-year-old said of a Capco Contractors/Rio Ammunition dragster in which he posted the quickest time in all four qualifying sessions at Denver while twice lowering the track record, “and then we didn’t. It dropped a hole (lost fire in one cylinder) and….kaboom. It happens.”
It was one of the few mechanical failures the talented Texan has endured this year at the controls of a 10,000 horsepower race car in which he has become the new poster boy for high speed performance in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
The seven-time pro tour winner has started from the No. 1 qualifying position in exactly half the races contested thus far this year even though he missed the Summit Nationals at Norwalk, Ohio, while recovering from a routine medical procedure. That he has leveraged those starts for only two wins, though, is a source of disappointment.
“You hardly ever get the same conditions on race day that you do in qualifying, especially in the night sessions” Torrence said, “so you don’t get a huge race day advantage like if you were the pole sitter at Daytona. You get a green hat, you get to be top dog for a couple days and then this sport snaps you back to reality like it did in Denver.
“The important for me is knowing that every week, these guys are going to put a race car under me that has the potential to win. The secret is turning potential into one of those little men (the Wally trophies awarded to event champions),” Torrence said.
The best measure of Torrence’s dominance is the fact that through 14 events, even missing the one, he has earned 83 qualifying bonus points. Next closest to him? Doug Kalitta with 54. He’s been quickest in 22 different qualifying sessions and nine racing rounds and it has propelled him to third place in points behind only two-time and reigning champion Antron Brown and Kalitta.
“You race every week against guys like Doug and Antron and Tony (Schumacher), even winning a round is a big deal,” Torrence said, “but for us as a family-owned team to be competing for a championship with those guys is pretty gratifying and a testimony to (crew chief) Richard Hogan, AJ (tuning consultant Alan Johnson) and the whole crew.”
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