Texan Still Third as Mello Yello Tour Moves to St. Louis

September 18, 2016 -- The consistency that made Steve Torrence’s Capco Contractors/Rio Ammunition dragster the scourge of the Top Fuel division during the 18-race regular season inexplicably went AWOL Sunday in the opening round of the NHRA playoffs at zMAX Dragway.

After aborting two of four qualifying runs and stumbling in a first round victory over Scott Palmer, the talented Texan exited in the second round of the ninth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals when his car suffered a rare mechanical failure after it began pulling away from the Rapisarda Racing hybrid of Australian Wayne Newby. 

It was a frustrating start to the Countdown for the 33-year-old who will move on to this week’s 19th annual AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals at St. Louis still in third place but now 100 points off Antron Brown’s lead instead of only 40.

“I don’t know.  It just quit,” Torrence said of the second round race in which his car hit the finish line at only 280 miles per hour, well off its usual 325 mph pace.  “I’ll have to wait for (crew chief Richard) Hogan to do the post mortem. 

“This was one of those races where it seemed like we were just never in sync.  We had problems on a couple of qualifying runs and then we smoked the tires in round one, which was the last thing I ever expected,” he said.  “Second round, it’s hauling butt and then it just quits.  We just didn’t have a happy race car and we’ve only got a couple days to find out why.”

How out of character was Torrence’s performance at zMAX?  Well, this is the first time all season that the Capco dragster suffered as many as three aborted runs, which was reflected in the fact that Torrence earned only one qualifying bonus point, his lowest total in any event this season. 

Nevertheless, despite his struggles in the Countdown opener, the former Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion extended a couple of impressive streaks.  By qualifying fourth, he extended to 26 the number of consecutive events in which he has qualified eighth or better (which assures lane choice in the first round) and with a 3.794 in the final qualifying session on Saturday, he kept perfect his record of having earned at least one qualifying bonus point in every race this season.


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