CAPCO Contractors Driver Tries to Maintain Consistency

March 16, 2016 -- On the surface, the shooting skills that make Steve Torrence successful on the gun range might not seem applicable to the competitive world in which he plies his trade as driver of the Capco Contractors/Rio Ammunition Top Fuel dragster in events like this week’s 47th annual Amalie Oil Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.

In reality, though, the hand-eye coordination, focus and consistency that have made him a successful hunter also have made the 32-year-old Texan a perennial contender for the $500,000 NHRA Mello Yello Championship.

Currently second in driver points, Torrence sees a host of similarities in the two activities for which he has so much passion.

“When you’re on the practice range, you’re trying to group your shot patterns,” he said.  “You’re firing tight shot groups and trying to consistently put them in the same location.  That’s basically the same thing we’re trying to do with the dragster.  We’re looking for ‘repeatability’ at whatever performance level conditions allow.

“Then there’s the concentration that you have to have whether you’re focused on a target or on the Christmas Tree,” he said.  “Shooting is good training for racing and racing is good training for shooting.”

A former Top Alcohol Dragster world champion (2005), Torrence owes his present status as a Top Fuel front-runner to a new car and a veteran crew that have delivered a consistency that is the envy of the category.  In the season’s first two races at Pomona, Calif., and Phoenix, Ariz., Torrence’s Capco entry covered the standard 1,000 foot distance in an average of just 3.779 seconds with zero aborted runs.

“This new car from Morgan Lucas Racing has been phenomenal,” said the six-time tour winner.  “We ran our quickest ever at Pomona (3.703 seconds) and we were on a 3.60 run in testing at Phoenix before I shut it off a little early.”

That means that, depending on the weather, Gainesville Raceway’s records could be very much in jeopardy this weekend. 

The other factor in Torrence’s quick start this season has been the influence of Alan Johnson who, as a tuning consultant to crew chief Richard Hogan, has nurtured a philosophy of managed aggressiveness.

“We’ve always run A.J.’s stuff (cylinder heads and other equipment),” Torrence said, “so when he came over he didn’t make a lot of mechanical changes.  Mainly, he’s just pushed Richard to be a little more aggressive.  He’s always in his ear and since him and Richard are friends and worked together before and because A.J. has had so much success, it just gives Hogan a lot of confidence.”

A cancer survivor whose battle with Hodgkins lymphoma is reflected in his “ever forward” mentality, Torrence is especially motivated at Gainesville, where he has had only minimal previous success.  Although he advanced to the semifinals in 2014, he has qualified in the top half of the field just twice in six appearances and last year bowed out in the very first round.

Nevertheless, he had a similar record at Pomona before he blitzed the competition at the season-opening Winternationals.  He’s looking for another reversal of fortunes this time out.


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