Texan Upended in First Round at Midwest Nationals

September 25, 2016 -- Steve Torrence grabbed a clear advantage at the start start Sunday but it wasn’t enough to hold off veteran Pat Dakin who used the quickest and fastest 1,000 foot run of his 40-year career to oust the talented Texan in the first round of the 19th annual AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park.

It was a heartbreaking loss for Torrence, a legitimate Mello Yello Championship contender whose only solace in post-race analysis lay in the fact that point leader Antron Brown also was a first round upset victim.

When the NHRA tour moves this week to Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., for the 32nd annual Dodge Nationals, Torrence will face an uphill battle if he hopes to drive his Capco Contractors/Rio Ammunition dragster back into the hunt for the $500,000 title.  He will start Friday qualifying sixth in points although he is only 103 points off the lead.

“We were lucky we only lost positions,” Torrence said.  “We’re only three points further behind Antron than we were going in but we’ve dug ourselves a pretty big hole because now there are a whole lot of people between us and the lead.  The next two races are critical – Reading and Dallas.  We need to go rounds.  It’s as simple as that.”

In the first two playoff races, Torrence’s 10,000 horsepower hybrid simply has lacked the consistency it mustered during an impressive regular season run.  In 17 first round races leading up to the Countdown, Torrence failed to get to the finish line under full power just two times, averaging 3.784 seconds for 15 full-power sprints.  In the playoffs, he has yet to make a clean run in competition.

Although he extended to 19 the number of consecutive races in which he has earned at least one qualifying bonus point, the seven-time pro winner and former Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion was in no mood to celebrate.

“We’ve been really good in qualifying but you have to be able to transfer all that to race day,” he said.  “We’ll figure it out, but it needs to be sooner instead of later.

“Not taking anything away from Pat Dakin.  Those guys stepped up on the big stage but I’d been a lot happier if they had stepped up against someone else.”


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