RAIN FALLS ON TORRENCE’S TITLE PARADE
CAPCO Driver Victimized by Weather, Larry Dixon
October 4, 2015 -- Steve Torrence’s Mello Yello Top Fuel championship bid came to a realistic, if not mathematical end Sunday at Maple Grove Raceway where the weather had as big an influence on the outcome of the 31st annual NHRA Keystone Nationals as did the horsepower.
Torrential rain spawned by Hurricane Joaquin washed out all but one qualifying session, leaving most crew chiefs to merely guess at a Sunday set-up on a race track colder than any they had dealt with all season long.
Although he qualified the Capco Contractors dragster seventh in a short, 14-car field, Torrence’s time was 8.814 seconds at a speed of just 71.90 miles per hour. Unfortunately, that was as quick as the Texan would run all weekend long.
In a first round match with three-time world champion Larry Dixon, he left the starting line first but little went right thereafter. On a 64 degree race track with an air temperature of 62 degrees, Torrence’s car quickly lost traction. The five-time tour winner ultimately crossed the finish line in 9.538 seconds at 83 mph.
It was a frustrating conclusion to a Countdown that began with high expectations, especially after the 32-year-old cancer survivor qualified at the front of the field the previous week when he recorded a career best 3.718 second time at St. Louis.
With Sunday’s result, though, he moves on to the Texas Motorplex outside Dallas for the Oct. 15-18 AAA Texas Fall Nationals in ninth place, 252 points behind pacesetting Antron Brown.
“Because of the rain and the cold and everything, there just wasn’t any margin for error,” Torrence said. “A couple of cars got down through there (in qualifying) but most of them struggled like we did. And when you only get one qualifying run and it’s not a clean run, then there’s no useable data. I know it was the same for everyone, but it’s just not how you want to decide a championship.”
Torrence now will focus on improving on last year’s sixth place finish in the final standings.
“We’re going to some tracks where we’ve run really well and where maybe we’ll get a break on the weather,” Torrence said. “We’re disappointed, but that’s drag racing. We’ll regroup and try to do some damage in these next races.”
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