Point Leader Has Been Runner-Up Four Straight Times

October 10, 2017 -- The last two years, Mello Yello point leader Steve Torrence has won more racing rounds in his home state than any other driver on the NHRA pro tour.

That, coupled with his category-best eight wins this season and the fact that he prevailed in the most recent event in the Countdown to the Championship, made it easy for oddsmakers to establish the Kilgore native as the Top Fuel favorite in this week’s 32nd annual AAA Texas Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex. 

If there is a down side, it is that while the 34-year-old cancer survivor has posted a 12-4 record in his last four Texas starts – two in Houston and two in Dallas, he has yet to hoist a trophy at either of the two tracks he calls home.

“Yeah, it’s kinda frustrating,” said the 16-time pro tour winner who is coming off a win two weeks ago in St. Louis.  “To be there (in the finals) four times and not get it done, you just have to use that for motivation.   (If) we keep putting ourselves in a position to win, eventually it’s going to happen.   It doesn’t change our game plan at all.  We’re still going to go out there and do what we’ve done all year.

“(Crew chief) Richard Hogan and these Capco guys have given me a car that can win in any condition,” he said.  “That’s what you have to have to win a championship.  My level of confidence has never been higher and when a driver is confident, he just naturally drives better.”

Torrence has driven better than anyone else all season long, as evidenced by the fact that his reaction time average is the best in the category, and, coupled with the reliability of a Capco dragster in which he has qualified eighth or better in each of his last 52 starts, it has put him in position to become the first driver in NHRA history to win championships in both the Alcohol and Fuel divisions.  He was the Top Alcohol Dragster champion in 2005.

He also is trying to become the first non-mega-team champion in the Countdown era.  The previous 10 Countdown championships were won by drivers on multi-car teams fielded by either Don Schumacher or Alan Johnson. 

“That’s been motivation, too,” Torrence said, “because I was told that we couldn’t win (a championship against the multi-car teams).   “I know it ain’t over, but no matter what happens in these next three races, I think we’ve proved a point.  I wouldn’t trade this race car, this crew chief or this team for any other out there.”

One of the most telling statistics in the young Texan’s emergence as a title threat is the fact that  he has managed to avoid the big mistake, losing in the first round just three times in the last 39 events.


# # #