CAPCO Driver Clinches NHRA Playoff Berth

July 31, 2016 -- After reversing last week’s result by besting eight-time series champion Tony Schumacher in a second round pedal-fest, Steve Torrence and his Capco Contractors/Rio Ammunition Top Fuel dragster ran afoul of traction problems Sunday in the semifinals of the 29th annual Toyota Sonoma Nationals

Despite the outcome, Torrence gained ground on both the drivers he trails in the Mello Yello point standings thanks to another near flawless qualifying performance in which he earned the maximum number of bonus points, qualified No. 1 for the eighth time this year, set track and NHRA national records for 1,000 foot time (3.671 seconds) and, finally, set a track speed record (331.04 miles per hour).

Nevertheless, as was the case last week at Denver, changing track and weather conditions proved to be kryptonite for the talented Texan and his 10,000 horsepower hot rod. 

Despite losing the lane choice option, Torrence grabbed a .023 of a second starting line advantage against semifinal opponent Richie Crampton only to lose traction at about 400 feet.  He backpedaled (feathered the throttle) but by then Crampton was past him and accelerating to the finish.

“It was great to give a little payback to Tony,” Torrence said of a second round that was the exact reverse of Denver, “and stop him from sweeping the Swing, but we didn’t get the big job done.  We didn’t get the little gold man (the Wally trophy awarded to winners in the Mello Yello Series). You just can’t afford to make a mistake out here.  If you do, somebody’ll make you pay for it.  That’s what Richie did today.

“But we know we’ve got a great car, we gained ground on Antron (Brown) and Doug (Kalitta) and we know we can win at Seattle (in this week’s 29th annual Northwest Nationals), because we have before (2012),” Torrence said.  “With three races remaining before they adjust the points, we still have a chance to move up.  That’s what we’re going to do.”

He’ll move on to Pacific Raceways trailing Brown by 132 points and Kalitta by 95.  Those three drivers and Brittany Force already have secured a starting spot in the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship.  The other six positions will be determined in races at Seattle, Brainerd, Minn., and Indianapolis, Ind.

“It’s great to lock up a Countdown spot this early,” Torrence said.  “That’s a credit to my guys.  They’ve given me a great race car all year long and we seem to be peaking at the right time.  We’re just going to keep doing what we do.”


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