Texan Outguns Schumacher for First 2017 Tour Victory

April 30, 2017 -- Steve Torrence has said he doesn’t like the four across format showcased each spring in the NHRA 4Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.  He never said he wasn’t any good at it. 

While the chaos of the 4Wide was playing havoc with some other big names including Pro Stock stars Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Erica Enders, it failed to distract Torrence who applied an exclamation point to a spectacular day by outrunning eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher, point leader Leah Pritchett and journeyman Terry McMillen for his ninth Mello Yello tour victory, his first this season.

“Man, I wish we were racing somewhere tomorrow,” Torrence said after becoming just the fifth different Top Fuel driver to win in four-wide competition.  “We’ve got a bad ass race car right now.  To beat Tony and Leah in that last race, that’s what it’s all about.  Somebody needed to beat those DSR (Don ‘Schumacher Racing) cars and we figured it might as well be us.

“My guys, Richard Hogan, Bobby Lagana (Jr.), Gary Pritchett, everybody.  Everybody did their job; even the driver.  Now we need to go on to Atlanta (and this week’s 37th annual Lucas Oil Southern Nationals) and keep this thing rolling.”  

It was a milestone win for the 34-year-old Texan.  Not only did he move from fifth to fourth in the driver standings, he also secured for his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster a guaranteed starting spot in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout to be contested at Indianapolis this September.  The bonus race, for which he twice has been runner-up, pays a $100,000 top prize.

En route to victory Sunday at his eighth different NHRA venue, Torrence posted top speed of the event at 329.10 miles per hour and improved his record at the 4Wide to 8-7.  Significantly, he became the first Top Fuel driver to win this year for a team other than DSR.

Despite the win, Torrence still isn’t an enormous fan of the format.

“This is the same as winning a race that you had to pedal it every round or you had to win on holeshots,” he said.  “This is a driver’s race.  It’s completely different when you come here.  It throws your whole routine off.  You’re mentally challenged more than at any other race but there is a certain satisfaction in overcoming all the additional distractions and getting your hot rod to the winners’ circle here.”

After qualifying fourth and extending to 37 the number of consecutive races in which he has qualified eighth or better, Torrence won his opening quad with a time of 3.770 seconds at 326.56 mph. 

In the second round, though, Pritchett beat him to the finish with a time of 3.756 seconds to his second straight 3.77.  At any of the other 23 races in the series, that would have sent Torrence back home to Kilgore but not at the 4Wide in which two drivers in each quad advance in each of the first two rounds.

Torrence made the most of his second shot at Pritchett, who beat him the final round a week ago at Houston.  This time, he beat her off the starting line (with a reaction time of .050) and then beat her to the finish, 3.783 to 3.794.  Schumacher also got across the line ahead of the point leader, thanks to an .040 reaction, but neither of the DSR drivers had anything but a rear view of the Capco dragster.

It was the second straight 4Wide win for Alan Johnson, the veteran car owner and crew chief who serves not only as tuning consultant to Torrence Racing crew chiefs Hogan and Lagana Jr. but also to John Force Racing and 2016 4Wide winner, Brittany Force.

Torrence, who finished third in driver points a year ago, is trying to become the first driver in NHRA history to win world championships in both the Top Fuel and Top Alcohol categories. 



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