CAPCO Driver Ousted in Opening Round at U.S. Nationals

September 7, 2015 -- Had transplanted Aussie Richie Crampton been content simply to stay home the last two Labor Day holidays and put a little shrimp on the barbie, who knows to what heights Steve Torrence might have taken his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.

That will be a likely subject of off-season speculation after Crampton, who a year ago beat Torrence in the final round of drag racing’s oldest, richest and most prestigious event, took him out in the very first round of Monday’s 61st edition at Lucas Oil Raceway. 

As if that wasn’t painful enough, Crampton also beat the 32-year-old Texan in the first round of Saturday’s Traxxas Shootout, denying him a third shot at a $100,000 payday in the Top Fuel bonus race.

It was a disappointing conclusion to a promising weekend for the five-time tour winner who directed his 10,000 horsepower Capco hybrid to its best starting position of the season (No. 3).  Furthermore, despite the Monday result, he still locked up ninth place in regular season points.

When the Countdown begins in two weeks at Charlotte, N.C., he will trail regular season champion Tony Schumacher by 100 points in the adjusted standings.  While that admittedly is a formidable margin, Torrence remains encouraged by the fact that Funny Car driver Robert Hight won the 2009 championship from the No. 10 position.

“It’s not impossible,” said the 2005 Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion.  “We know we have a car that can run with anyone.  That’s the first thing you’ve gotta have.  We’ve got a fast hot rod and if we can get on a roll, I think we can make it pretty interesting.”

Torrence’s Indy weekend may have turned with the rain that washed out a Friday qualifying run that would have provided some data in advance of Saturday’s Shootout.  It may have been a portent of what was to come because it made Saturday’s first round something of a crapshoot.

Although Torrence got the starting line advantage, he felt his car begin to spin the tires near half track and watched as Crampton motored by for the win.

Nevertheless, he responded to that disappointment by claiming the No. 3 starting spot on Monday just behind Larry Dixon and his dad, Billy Torrence, who qualified the second Capco dragster in the No. 2 slot.  Unfortunately, an undetected oil leak put enough liquid under the rear tires after the first round burnout that, for the second time in three days, Torrence had to watch Crampton drive away for the win.

The day was only marginally longer for Billy Torrence who, after dispatching T.J. Zizzo in round one, lost to another former Rookie of the Year, Brittany Force, in round two in his first Top Fuel appearance of the 2015 season.

The No. 2 start was his best in 16 Top Fuel races as teammate to his son.


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