Strong Effort Produces Second Straight Runner-Up

April 23, 2017 --Steve Torrence regained his swagger Sunday at Royal Purple Raceway but the just-turned-34 year old Texan still couldn’t get his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster into the winners’ circle at Royal Purple Raceway where for the second straight year he was ousted in final round of the NHRA Spring Nationals.

After another strong performance during which he posted the quickest 1,000 foot time in the last two qualifying sessions and in the first three rounds of eliminations, the Kilgore resident ran afoul of point leader Leah Pritchett in the final and dropped a can’t-see-it-with-the-naked-eye 3.781-3.787 second decision that kept him winless during the 2017 season.

Nevertheless, the eight-time Mello Yello tour winner will move to Charlotte, N.C. for this week’s eighth annual NHRA 4Wide Nationals in fifth place behind only the three Don Schumacher Racing entries (driven by Pritchett, who’s won three of the first five races, and her world championship-winning teammates, Antron Brown and Tony Schumacher) and Doug Kalitta.

The No. 1 qualifier at the 4Wide twice in the last five years, he will be trying to extend to 37 the number of consecutive races for which he has qualified in the Top 8, a streak he extended with a No. 4 start at Royal Purple.  That’s the longest such active streak in the Top Fuel division and is significant because drivers who qualify eighth or better are assured the lane choice option in the first round.

After losing the Spring Nationals title a year ago by .019 of a second to Kalitta, Torrence crossed the line Sunday just .003 behind Pritchett whose husband Gary is the clutch tech on the 10,000 horsepower Capco Contractors entry. 

“This is getting’ old,” said a disappointed Torrence.  “I know races like that are fun for the fans, but they’re hard on us drivers.  To get so close to a win here the last two years, to have my guys give me such a good race car and then to come up that short, all you can do is suck it up and get back to work.  If there’s a good thing, it’s that we’ll be back racing again in five days and maybe put this one behind us.

“The DSR cars?  They’ve won everything (all five races to date) and somebody has to stop ‘em.  It might as well be us,” said the cancer survivor and former Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion (2005).  “The big thing is we’ve got our hot rod back where it needs to be.  We struggled on Friday but Richard Hogan, Bobby Lagana and A.J. (consultant Alan Johnson) got everything figured out and, the last two days, it was one bad hombre.

“You have to remind yourself that it’s a long season,” said the eight-time Mello Yello tour winner, “but, as a racer, you want to kick their butts every week.  We’re going to Charlotte with a ‘kick their butts’ attitude and see if we can hurt some feelings.




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