Texan Confident After 2016 Success, Pre-Season Testing

February 8, 2017 -- Coming off the most successful season of his brief professional career, Steve Torrence thus far has declined to handicap the race for the 2017 Mello Yello Top Fuel championship which begins with this week’s 57th annual Circle K Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

Suffice it to say that last year’s third place finisher expects his Capco Contractors dragster to be in the hunt for the $500,000 Mello Yello bonus regardless of the competition.

That’s a confidence born not only of last year’s success, which included eight No. 1 starts, eight final round appearances and an NHRA national record of 3.671 seconds, but also of the team’s no-wasted-motion test session last week in Phoenix.. 

“We were testing some clutch applications,” Torrence said of his team’s brief-but-impressive appearance at the NHRA’s official “spring training” session at Wildhorse Pass Motorsports Park.  “We’ve always had trouble getting off the (starting) line at Phoenix so to run sixty-nine (3.691 seconds) was pretty impressive especially since (crew chief Richard) Hogan had it set up pretty soft.”

Now, Torrence will try to transform lessons learned at Phoenix into success 350 miles away in an event in which he stunned the field a year ago with a wire-to-wire victory that propelled him into the Top Fuel points lead for the first time since he founded Torrence Racing in 2012.

“Other than a few little tweaks, it’s basically the same car we ran in the Countdown,” Torrence said.  “The guys at Morgan Lucas Racing front-halved it for us after Indy so it’s not like it’s worn out.  We’ve ordered another one but this is the best car I’ve ever had, by far, and it’s still got a lot of racing in it.”

Torrence was the most consistent Top Fuel driver in the series last year.  He had the best average starting position and will begin qualifying this Friday with a category-best streak of 32 straight races in which he has qualified eighth or better dating back to 2015.

Furthermore, the 33-year-old cancer survivor never was worse than sixth in points in a 2016 season in which he avoided the mid-season swoon that took him out of contention the previous four years.  Among his three wins were victories at Pomona and Las Vegas, tracks on which he previously had been a combined 0-for-26.



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