Aims to Put His Top Fuel Title Bid Back on Track in Arizona

February 23, 2017 -- Steve Torrence admits that he might be a bit of an adrenaline junkie.  One tends to adopt that kind of live-in-the-moment philosophy after staring down cancer and a related heart attack.  Torrence has done that.

That may be why he hunts big game with a bow-and-arrow, why he loves the PBR and pro basketball and why this week he will return to his abiding passion as driver of a 10,000 horsepower, 330 mile per hour “animal” of a race car in which, on a typical 1,000 foot sprint, his body is subjected to G-forces exceeded only by those of astronauts and jet fighter pilots.

Torrence is very good at what he does, which is why, when qualifying begins Friday in the 33rd annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wildhorse Pass Motorsports Park, he will be one of the favorites not only to win the race but to win the drag racing equivalent of the circle track “pole.”

The 33-year-old Texan directed his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster to the top of the qualifying order a category-best eight times a year ago when he finished a career best third in the Countdown for the $500,000 Mello Yello Championship. 

He also went to eight final rounds, won three times and set the current NHRA national record by negotiating the 1,000 foot course, from a standing start, in a mere 3.671 seconds.  It’s a record that likely will be threatened this week when Torrence tries to move up from his current No. 7 position, the result of a second round loss in the season-opener two weeks ago in Pomona, Calif.

“We lost both (qualifying) runs on Friday, so that put us way behind,” Torrence said.  “My guys did a great job of catching up but we raced Leah (Pritchett) in the second round and she wound up doing what we did a year ago (winning the season-opening Circle K Winternationals from the No. 1 qualifying spot).”

Ironically, Pricthett’s husband, Gary, is the clutch tech on Torrence’s Capco car, which sets up all sorts of interesting sub-plots should the two young drivers find themselves in a stretch battle for the title.

“We don’t want to ruin the family dynamic,” Torrence joked.  “We owe her one.”

An eight-time tour winner since founding his own team in 2012, Torrence enters the Arizona Nationals having qualified eighth or better in 33 consecutive races dating back to 2015, the longest active streak on the tour.  By qualifying eighth or better in a 16-car field, a driver is assured his (or her) choice of lanes in the critical first round.

Nevertheless, Torrence has more motivating him this week than extending streaks and evening scores.  Historically, he has had difficulty at the track formerly known as Firebird Raceway.  He has yet to reach the finals and, in 2013, failed to make the starting lineup, one of only four such missteps in his entire career.

“When we tested (at Wildhorse Pass last January), we wanted to make sure everything was right for Pomona,” Torrence said, “but we also saw it as an opportunity to try some things that would apply this weekend.  I guess we’ll see if (crew chief Richard) Hogan and Bobby (Lagana) learned anything we can use.”



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