Texan Out in Semifinals at Texas Motorplex

October 15, 2017 -- The only things that emerged intact from the spectacular Sunday crash of the Capco Contractors dragster at the conclusion of a second round victory in the 32nd annual AAA Texas Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex were (1) driver Steve Torrence, and (2) his dream of winning the Mello Yello Top Fuel championship.

That Torrence was not injured when the left rear tire on his 10,000 horsepower dragster exploded at 320 miles per hour and sent him slamming into the left concrete guardwall was remarkable; that he was strapped into the cockpit of a back-up car less than an hour-and-a-half later, still trying to win a race in his home state, is the stuff of legend.

Unfortunately, it was another close-but-no-cigar Texas moment for the 34-year-old whose 3.728 at 323.35 mph in the hastily-assembled and unpainted back-up car wasn’t quite good enough to hold off Brittany Force’s 3.685 at 327.43 mph.  For many, though, the result was of no consequence; what will be remembered is the effort.

“I’ve said it all year long,” Torrence said.  “I wouldn’t trade these Capco guys for anyone.  To get the back-up car assembled and to have it run 3.72, you don’t know how incredible that is.  The only thing better would be if we’d won the round, but give credit to Brittany, she did her job.”

Although Force went on to win the race and move into second place in the Mello Yello driver standings, Torrence will lead by 37 points when the Countdown resumes Oct. 27-29 with the 17th annual Toyota Nationals at Las Vegas, an event in which he is the defending champion.

“The Lord was looking out for us today,” Torrence said.  “I felt the tire go.  The car went left and then right.  After that first hit, though, when it knocked the front end off, I was just along for the ride.”

The multiple impacts shortened a car that started with a 300-inch wheelbase to one about a  third as long.  Ironically, the chassis was built at Morgan Lucas Racing by the man against whom Torrence was racing in that fateful second round, Australian Richie Crampton.

“I can’t say enough about that Morgan Lucas chassis,” Torrence said.  “The car did exactly what it was supposed to do in that situation.  And what it’s done as a race car speaks for itself.   I’ve got no apprehension about this new car.  It’s a clone of the one that crashed.  My guys will be massaging it for the next week getting back like we want it for Vegas.”

Until that fateful second round, Torrence was having a signature weekend at the Motorplex where he had been the Top Fuel runner-up in 2015 and 2016.  The No. 1 qualifier, he was quickest in three of the four qualifying rounds and was quickest in the first round at 3.682 while dispatching Top Fuel rookie Blake Alexander.

Winner of a category best eight races this season plus the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, Torrence has been no worse than third in points at any time since April.  He won the regular season championship and has been No. 1 for all but one playoff race. 

A cancer and a heart attack survivor, the Texan is chasing history this year, trying to become the first driver for a single-car team to win a pro championship in the Countdown Era (since 2007) and the first to win championships in both the Alcohol and Fuel divisions.  He was the NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster champion in 2005.

Ironically, Torrence Racing briefly became a multi-car team at the Motorplex where Billy Torrence, Steve’s father, drove a second Capco Contractors entry but lost to Crampton in the first round.


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