TORRENCE RIDES MOMENTUM INTO COUNTDOWN
Capco Contractors Top Fuel Dragster a Player in Mello Yello Title Battle
September 11, 2014 -- Riding a wave of momentum born of a second straight runner-up finish in drag racing’s biggest event, Texan Steve Torrence takes aim on the sport’s biggest prize this week when he sends his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster into the first race in the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship.
Even though he dropped a narrow final round decision two weeks ago in the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, the 31-year-old cancer survivor rolls into the seventh annual Pep Boys Nationals at zMAX Dragway brimming with confidence.
Significantly, after NHRA’s Countdown adjustments, he starts the playoffs just 60 points off veteran Doug Kalitta’s lead.
“(Crew chief) Richard Hogan and these Capco guys have a great handle on the race car right now and I’ve got to do all I can not to screw it up,” mused the four-time tour winner.
“We’ve held back some of our inventory, especially clutch discs and stuff we know runs well, stuff that’s been consistent, for the Countdown,” said the four-time tour winner. “The first year we were in (the playoffs), that was our Achilles Heel.
“It was our first year as a team and even though we ran really well the whole year (three wins and two runner-up finishes) we had used up our parts inventory by the time we got to the Countdown. You can’t count last year because we made some changes and struggled (but) maybe the third time’s a charm.”
Torrence’s current title bid will get a big boost from the presence of a second Capco dragster driven by his father, Billy. With two cars, the team can generate twice as much data for its crew chiefs. That helps negate the advantage usually enjoyed by the multiple car teams fielded by Don Schumacher, Connie Kalitta and Alan Johnson.
“These things are constantly evolving,” Torrence said, “and we need to do our best to make them quicker and faster on every lap. That’s the advantage some of these multi-car teams have on us, but we’re doing everything we can to level the playing field.”
Although he has not won this year, Torrence has done everything but. The graduate of Kilgore College has qualified No. 1, recorded personal best numbers for time and speed, gone to the finals and made the playoffs. He’d like to provide a capper this week at zMAX.
“We’ve been very blessed,” said the former NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion (2005). “We’ve got a great business at home (pipeline construction and maintenance) and a great group of guys at Capco that work their tails off.
“I don’t think we’ve got any bigger fans than the guys that are part of the company. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be able to do this,” he continued. “We’re going up against some of the best guys in the business and to be able to have some success and knock them off every now and then, that’s the most gratifying thing. This is a family race team and we’re out here swinging with the big dogs.”
“We lost our consistency (in the middle of the season),” Torrence said. “We made some changes, tested some things, but really, a lot of it was just not being in the right place at the right time. You gotta have a little luck and we just didn’t have it. Hopefully, we’ve been saving it up for these next six races.”
While Torrence is focused on the championship, his dad is hoping to provide more than just moral support in a second Capco dragster that, at Indy, carried him to career best performance numbers (3.795 seconds at 324.28 miles per hour) in a first round loss to race winner Richie Crampton.
“We needed more ammo,” Torrence said. “We had to put somebody in the other car and it might as well be dad. Hopefully, we’ll get some more data and learn some things we can relay to our car. Plus, I think he’s having a ball driving the second hot rod. He’s gonna win some rounds and that’s gonna help in the long run.”
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