CAPCO Driver ‘Under the Radar’ at Charlotte

September 17, 2015 -- With this week’s start of the NHRA’s 2015 Countdown to the Mello Yello Championship, Steve Torrence’s mindset is one of optimism.  It’s not cautious optimism, mind you.  It’s pure, unadulterated Texas optimism born of a regular season in which the 32-year-old’s results did not accurately reflect the competitiveness of either his team or his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster.

Torrence finished the regular season ninth in the point standings despite the fact that he had nine Top Five starts in 16 races, beat eight-time series champion Tony Schumacher in the final round to win at Denver, Colo., and, in the last six races, recorded the three quickest 1,000 foot times of his pro career – 3.732, 3.733 and 3.734 seconds.

When racing begins on Friday in the eighth annual Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway, Torrence will be 100 points off Schumacher’s pace but he knows it’s a manageable deficit whereas the 457 points by which he trailed before the NHRA adjusted the numbers for the Countdown, was not.

“It’s a new season for us,” Torrence enthused, “and we’ve got a fast hot rod.  My guys have put a great car under me and I don’t think we’ve peaked by any means.  The Denver win was a big confidence booster because we hadn’t been in the winners’ circle in more than a year. 

“It’s going to be fun,” said the five-time Top Fuel winner.  “We made a little push last year (to start the playoffs) but we let the momentum get away from us.  The pressure really is on the guys at the top.  Nobody expects us to win from ninth place – but we’ll see.  Robert Hight won a Funny Car championship from No. 10 (in 2009), so anything’s possible.

“It’s going to be whoever gets the hot hand and gets on a roll and that might as well be us,” said the 2005 NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion. 

Torrence is further encouraged by the fact that he is back on the all-concrete track at zMAX on which he was runner-up to 2012 world champion Antron Brown last March in the NHRA’s one-of-a-kind 4Wide Nationals contested across four lanes instead of the standard two. 

“We’ve had some success.  We were No. 1 qualifier, I think, at the 2012 4Wide so (crew chief Richard) Hogan has a pretty good handle on the track,” Torrence said.  “We just need to go out there like we did last year and get some momentum.  If we all do our jobs, I really think we’ve got as good a chance as anyone.”

A year ago, Torrence was a semifinalist in the first two Countdown races and rode that performance to a career best sixth place finish.


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