CAPCO Driver Sights on 17th Annual Denso Nationals

March 30, 2016 -- In a town known for accepting bets on anything and everything, odds are that Steve Torrence’s recent spate of first round exits won’t continue this week during the 17th annual Denso Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

After all, when you have a car as quick and consistent as Torrence’s Capco Contractors/Rio Ammo Top Fuel dragster, you don’t expect to be a spectator especially so early in the race.

Nevertheless, after winning the season-opening Circle K Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., and assuming the Mello Yello point lead for the first time in his pro career, the 32-year-old Texan lost first round races at Phoenix, Ariz., and Gainesville, Fla., by a combined total of .041 of a second (.011 at Phoenix and .030 at Gainesville).

“It’s painful,” Torrence said, “but that’s how competitive this class is right now.  One week you win by a hundredth of a second and the next week you lose by a thousandth.  You got no margin for error.”

Nevertheless, since last summer, Torrence’s 10,000 horsepower hot rod has been one of the quickest and most consistent on the circuit, a car capable of running the table at any given event.  On race day, in fact, the slowest the Capco dragster has covered the standard 1,000 foot distance is 3.851 seconds.  It’s per run average has been 3.776 seconds. 

The only driver with a quicker average this season and the only other driver to have completed every competitive run under full power is current point leader Brittany Force, whose average for nine runs is 3.759 seconds. 

The significance of that statistic is that Torrence and Force, in essence, are teammates, both of them benefitting from the expertise of tuning consultant Alan Johnson.

“A.J. has access to the data from both cars,” Torrence said, “so that kind of levels the playing field with all the multi-car teams.  It’s worked good so far because he and Hogan (Capco crew chief Richard Hogan) have worked together for years and think a lot alike.  He’s just kind of been in Hogan’s ear, encouraging him to push it a little more than he might have.”

As a result, Torrence has emerged as a legitimate threat to win the $500,000 Mello Yello Championship and become the first driver ever to win NHRA titles in both the Fuel and Alcohol categories.  He was the Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion in 2005.

A cancer survivor who has used his battle with Hodgkins lymphoma as a source of motivation, Torrence has won six NHRA tour events since founding Torrence Racing in 2012 and while he hasn’t had great success at LVMS, he is encouraged by the fact that he reached the semifinals at the last two Denso races contested in even numbered years (2012 and 2014).

“As long as my guys keep putting a fast hot rod under me and as long as I can continue to do my job as the driver, we’are gonna be in this hunt,” Torrence said.  “I said after Pomona, ‘it’s great to be No. 1, but it doesn’t really matter until the last race of the year.’  That’s our goal.”


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