After Sizzling Qualifying Performance, Torrence Out Early

April 3, 2016 -- Reading changing racetrack conditions is a lot like predicting the weather. 

Both skills rely on basic science with a healthy dash of speculation.  It’s in no way precise, a fact of which Steve Torrence was reminded Sunday when his Capco Contractors/Rio Ammo Top Fuel dragster, which performed so flawlessly during qualifying for the 17th annual Denso Nationals, spun the tires and lost traction in the first round at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

After posting an average 1,000 foot time of 3.750 seconds on four qualifying runs including a time of 3.728 that earned him his second No. 1 start in four races, Torrence managed to cover the distance in a pedestrian 4.682 seconds at only 204.08 miles per hour in an opening round loss to journeyman Steve Chrisman.

After the tires spun when he hit the throttle, Torrence twice tried to calm down his 10,000 horsepower hot rod by feathering the throttle in a procedure known as “backpedaling.”  It had no effect and Chrisman drove away for just the third round win of his career.

The result was totally unexpected and Torrence wasn’t sure immediately after his exit what the problem might have been.

“I’m not really sure what happened,” he said.  “We went up there to try and prepare for hotter track conditions in round two and thought it would be plenty safe for that round (but) the car just didn’t make it (down the track).   We’ll look at the data and figure it out but there were a lot of cars not making it down (the course).  Something changed drastically on the track.”

If there was any good news, it was that the 32-year old former Top Alcohol World Champion (2005) will move on to the April 24 4Wide Nationals at Charlotte no worse off than he was headed into Las Vegas.  Despite the loss, he remained fourth in Mello Yello points, just as he was when Vegas qualifying began on Friday.

Winner of the season-opening Circle K Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., Torrence is locked into the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, an eight-car bonus race that will pay one driver $100,000 during the Labor Day U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind.


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