MECHANICAL ISSUE TAKES DOWN TORRENCE
CAPCO/RIO Driver Winds Up Third in Top Fuel Standings
November 13, 2016 -- California – A rare crew error in routine re-assembly of the 10,000 horsepower engine in the Capco Contractors/Rio Ammunition Top Fuel dragster took Texan Steve Torrence out of the season-ending 52nd annual Auto Club Finals in the second round Sunday and denied him a second place finish in the Mello Yello Top Fuel driver standings.
Although he posted quick time of the first round (3.739 seconds) in dispatching Australian Wayne Newby, Torrence got no response from his hot rod when he hit the throttle against Shawn Langdon in round two and eventually coasted across the finish line in a pedestrian 5.068 seconds at only 167.95 miles per hour.
That provided veteran Doug Kalitta with a narrow window of opportunity through which he sped to a race win that pushed him past Torrence in the final standings.
Nevertheless, third place is the highest finish for the Texas pro who had a category best eight No. 1 starts and went to the final round eight times this season with three wins. That will send him into the season-opening Circle K Winternationals next February with a tremendous amount of confidence.
“Right now it’s a little disheartening because we just made a mistake here in the pits,” Torrence said of Sunday’s result., “but this is by far the best season we’ve had and we’ve really had very few mistakes so that makes that pill a little bit easier to swallow.”
The eight-time tour winner also is encouraged by the fact that his team will return intact in 2017 led by crew chief Richard Hogan, car chief Bobby Lagana Jr. and consultant Alan Johnson.
“That’s a huge confidence-booster for me as owner and driver,” he said. “That’s what it takes to have a championship-caliber team. You need consistency and continuity. These guys are on top of their game and rarely do they make a mistake.
“I think we’ve gone out and drawn our line in the sand and said, ‘hey, we’re here to contend for the championship.’ I think we’ve gotten a lot of people’s attention. A lot of these other teams have a lot more respect for us than they did eight or nine months ago and I’m looking forward to going into a new season.”
In the aftermath of the announcement that Morgan Lucas Racing was suspending its Top Fuel operation, Torrence addressed the challenges of racing against the multi-car teams fielded by John Force Racing, Don Schumacher Racing and Kalitta Racing, which were cited by Lucas as one of the considerations in his decision.
“In all honesty, it’s a hard uphill battle because those guys have so much more data. It doesn’t make any difference if it’s a Funny Car or a dragster, every run provides data and those teams that have eight or nine cars or however many they may have do have an edge.
“It makes it more difficult,” Torrence said, “but we do have an alliance with Brittany (Force) and John Force Racing, which also retains AJ as a consultant, and I think the benefit is reflected in both of our performances this year. There is value in numbers, for sure.
“I hate to see the Lucas Oil team go away,” lamented the 2005 NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster champion. “They’re very reflective of this team. They’re a family-run race team that has done this for quite some time as a family so they’re going to be greatly missed. I hope there is some way that in some capacity we can keep those guys out here (on the tour).”
“It definitely is difficult to do this as a one-car team,” added the NHRA national record holder for 1,000 foot time (3.671 seconds), “but the other side of that is that when you have success against those odds, as we did this year, it is really gratifying.
“It takes money to run these things,” said the man who in 2012 formed his own team after mixed success as a hired driver. “We are very fortunate and very blessed to have been able to run one of these things at this level, but you are constantly pursuing those marketing partners and doing everything you can to stay out here and build the operation.
“We’re trying to make a footprint in a pretty small arena. We’ll just keep going on and moving forward. Like I said, we’ve established that we’re here to contend for a championship and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”
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