Still Moves Up in Points with Strong Houston Performance

May 1, 2016 -- To be the champ, you first have to beat the champ.  Steve Torrence finally beat the champ Sunday but, as meaningful as was his first ever head-to-head win against Antron Brown, it didn’t get him or his Capco Contractors/Rio Ammo Top Fuel dragster into the winners’ circle at the 29th annual NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway.

After a dominating performance that included his third consecutive No. 1 start, Torrence came up .019 of second short in the final round to Doug Kalitta, a result that reversed the order of finish at the season-opening Circe K Winternationals at Pomona, Calif.  Kalitta’s narrow .036-.058 starting line advantage provided the difference.

Despite his frustration, Torrence couldn’t be too unhappy.  After all, the 33-year-old cancer survivor set a track record at 3.724 seconds, moved up to fourth place in points, beat eight-time World Champion Tony Schumacher in the second round and, after 16 straight disappointments, finally got the better of Brown, earning a 3.730-3.769 victory over the two-time and reigning Mello Yello Champion in the semifinals. 

“We didn’t close the deal and that’s the bottom line,” said the six-time Top Fuel winner.  “That’s a great team over there (Kalitta), but we’ve got a great team, too.  The thing is, this isn’t the last time we’re going to see Antron or Doug in the other lane.  It’s a long season and we’ve put ourselves back in contention for that championship knowing that we’ve got a great car moving forward.

“I just hate that we had a chance to win a race on one of our home tracks, with all our friends and family watching, and didn’t get it done.  Close doesn’t count over here,” said the 2005 Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion.”

When the tour moves to Atlanta Dragway for the May 13-15 Summit Southern Nationals, Torrence will trail pacesetting Brittany Force by just 47 points, little more than two racing rounds.

“With as good as Richard Hogan and A.J. (tuning consultant Alan Johnson) have this thing running, we could cut the lead to just two rounds by the end of qualifying at Atlanta.  It’s possible but then again the car we’re trying to catch is really our team car (Force also gets tuning help from Johnson).”

It was Torrence’s second strong performance in three years at Houston where he reached the semifinals as the No. 1 qualifier in 2014.  He’ll move to Atlanta having started from the No. 1 position in five of the last 11 tour events dating to last September when he qualified No. 1 at St. Louis


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