TORRENCE AIMS TO CLOSE THE DEAL AT NORWALK
Texan Focused on Solid Finish to Four Races in Four Weeks
June 22, 2016 -- Steve Torrence did not stamp himself as a prime contender for the $500,000 Mello Yello Top Fuel Championship by winning the season-opening Circle K Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., although a victory in one of the NHRA “majors” certainly didn’t hurt his case.
Nevertheless, Torrence was not regularly a part of the championship conversation until the current series of four-races-in-four-weeks that concludes Sunday with the 10th annual Summit Racing Equipment Nationals. That’s because the 33-year-old Texan has driven his Capco Contractors/Rio Ammunition dragster to the second best overall record over the last three weeks behind only Tony Schumacher, the eight-time series champion whom he defeated in the final round at Englishtown, N.J. two weeks ago
He rolls into Summit Motorsports Park having posted an 8-2 record (Schumacher is 9-2 over the same span) with no valid reason to believe that pace will slow this weekend.
In fact, he can’t wait to climb back into the cockpit of his 10,000 horsepower hot rod and close the deal on a racetrack on which he came agonizingly close to victory in 2012 when he qualified No. 1 and advanced to the finals before losing to Spencer Massey by .002 of a second.
Torrence’s performance this year at Epping, N.H., Englishtown and Bristol, Tenn., certainly could not have been predicted based on his history at those tracks. In fact, over the last two years, he was 0-6 in those races; two races at each site; two first round losses at each site.
The graduate of Kilgore College turned things round with the help of a new chassis built at the fab shop of Top Fuel rival Morgan Lucas and with the addition of Alan Johnson as tuning consultant to crew chief Richard Hogan and car chief Bobby Lagana Jr.
Since Johnson began his latest collaboration with Hogan, with whom he has had a long friendship as well as a lengthy working relationship, Torrence has emerged as the new face of fast.
Not only is he third in points with a legitimate shot at winning the regular season championship, he has been the No. 1 qualifier six times in 11 races this year and seven times in the last 16 events.
“The car has been exceptional,” Torrence said. “My guys have given me the best car I’ve had since 2005 (when he won the NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster championship). When you get in the seat, you know the thing is capable of outrunning anybody that you come up against and that’s a huge confidence boost for me as a driver and a testament to how hard these guys have worked.
“We’ve made 22 laps in the last three weeks. That’s enough to wear down anybody but they’re still ready to go. That’s what happens when you know you have a chance to win every week. And that’s how we feel,” said the seven-time tour winner.
Torrence will start the qualifying process on Friday just 80 points off the lead maintained by Doug Kalitta and just 27 points behind the two-time and reigning champion, Antron Brown, who is second.
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