TORRENCE NO FAN OF FOUR-WIDE FORMAT
Capco Contractors Driver Tries to Reverse His Fortunes at Charlotte
March 26 2015 -- For Steve Torrence, drag racing success is all about reaction, rhythm and repetition – which is why he is no big fan of this week’s sixth annual 4Wide Nationals at ZMAX Dragway.
Torrence sees the one-of-a-kind event as a novelty race, one that requires him to make changes to a routine that has helped establish him as a legitimate contender for the NHRA’s Mello Yello Championship at the wheel of the Richard Hogan-prepped Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster.
“We run 23 races the same way,” Torrence said. “You go to the (starting) line with two cars and two drivers. One wins and one goes home. Simple. But then you go to the four-wide and it’s not you against one other driver – or even two, but three. You’re looking left and right and usually everywhere except where you should be looking.
“Your whole routine changes,” he explained. “Instead of just reacting, like you do the rest of the year, you have to think about what you’re doing and, in a sport like this, thinking isn’t a good thing. It just slows you down.”
As a “special event,” Torrence concedes that the race might be fun, but to include it in a Mello Yello championship worth a half million dollars “doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”
Of course, just because he doesn’t like the format doesn’t mean the 31-year-old Texan is ready to pack it in and move on the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, site of the next race in the series.
“The one positive is that it’s the same for everybody. Everybody’s uncomfortable so it becomes a deal where, to do good, you just have to find a way to block out the distractions,” he said. “Like they say, ‘the car doesn’t know there are three other cars out there.’ It just does what it does and ours has been doing it better than most.”
In fact, Torrence has had a measure of success at the 4Wide where he was the No. 1 qualifier in 2012. Furthermore, the last time he was on the all-concrete surface at zMAX, he took his 330 mile-an-hour ride to the semifinals of last fall’s Carolina Nationals, first race in the NHRA Countdown.
A four-time tour winner since moving up to Top Fuel following a successful apprenticeship in the Top Alcohol division in which he won an NHRA World Championship in 2005, Torrence is off to a slow start this year in a car that last season was among the most consistent on the tour.
“We’re definitely not off the start we had last year,” Torrence said, “but it’s early. We just need to build a little momentum and get on a roll. Last year, the four-wide was the only race (in the first seven) where we didn’t get to the semifinals. Maybe this year we’ll turn that around and win it all. If we do, maybe it’ll change my mind (about the format) but I’m not making any promises.”
“My guys have given me a bad ass hot rod,” Torrence said, “but sometimes it’s just luck of the draw; it’s not only who you race, it’s when you race ‘em. Everything tends to balance out over a season though, so I’m hoping we’ve built up some credits.”
Although he failed to win a race last year, Torrence was runner-up at the sport’s biggest event, the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, for the second straight year and was just a couple of good breaks away from finishing second to Tony Schumacher in the title chase.
“That was by far the best season and the best race car I’ve ever had,” Torrence said of last year. “This is the same car and the same team. We’re not discouraged. We’re just hungry.”
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