CAPCO Driver Can’t Match Qualifying Performance

July 24, 2016 -- Drag racing can be the cruelest of sports, a fact of which Steve Torrence was made painfully aware once again Sunday at Bandimere Speedway after his record-setting Capco Contractors/Rio Ammunition Top Fuel dragster was upended in the second round of the 37th annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals.

After crushing the competition in two days of qualifying, Torrence ran afoul of a familiar bugaboo in the “traction is everything” sport when a Sunday weather change returned his seemingly invincible hot rod to mortal status, making it vulnerable in a second round meeting with the U.S. Army car of eight-time series champ Tony Schumacher.

 After beating Schumacher in the final to win last year’s race, Torrence slowed from his track record-setting 3.776 second qualifying pace to an almost pedestrian 4.381 seconds in losing on Sunday.  Schumacher wasn’t breaking any records himself at 4.083, but he was just quick enough to get the round win and eventually to win the race itself. 

“We dropped a hole (had a cylinder that wasn’t firing),” Torrence said, “but I saw he was having trouble and thought I could still run him down.  Then it blew up.  We had a great race car all weekend.  I just feel bad for my guys.  They worked their butts off up here on the mountain.”

 Despite the loss, the 33-year-old Texan will move on to Sonoma, Calif., for this week’s Toyota Sonoma Nationals in third place in Mello Yello points behind only Antron Brown and Doug Kalitta. 

In posting the quickest time in all four qualifying sessions Friday and Saturday, Torrence became just the ninth driver in NHRA history to earn the maximum 12 qualifying bonus points more than one.  He also was the quickest in every qualifying session earlier this year at Las Vegas.  The only other Top Fuel driver to have accomplished the feat is Larry Dixon, who did it three times.

For the season, Torrence has guided his hybrid hot rod to the quickest time in 22 of 55 qualifying sessions, a remarkable performance made the more so by the fact that he missed an entire race following a medical procedure.  He has a class-leading 83 qualifying bonus points, 29 more than Kalitta and 39 more than both Brown and Brittany Force.


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