Texan Climbs to No. 2 in Mello Yello Point Standings

May 21, 2017 -- “This ain’t horseshoes.  Close don’t count for crap.” That’s the way Steve Torrence summed up his feelings Sunday after close friend and racing rival Antron Brown denied him a third straight NHRA Mello Yello tour victory by beating him in the final round of the 29th annual Menards Heartland Nationals at Heartland Park-Topeka.

The two young guns, who between them have won half the races contested thus far this season, were separated by just .002 of a second at the start (.055 reaction time for Torrence; .053 for Brown) and were within .005 or less at every incremental point on the track until a puff of smoke at 660 feet (resulting from a gasket failure) ended the day for Torrence and his otherwise flawless Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster.

However, it wasn’t how he was beaten that left the 34-year-old Torrence so perplexed.  It was that he was beaten – again.  Against everyone else on the sport, the talented Texan is 171-138.   Against Brown, the three-time and reigning World Champion, he’s 1-22.

“All you can do is just keep going up there and doing your job,” Torrence said.  “The pendulum has got to swing the other way some time.  Antron’s a great racer on a great team but we have a great team, too, and that’s really not reflected (in the record against Brown).”

It’s a bitter pill for Torrence insomuch as he is 26-28 against the other members of the Don Schumacher Racing juggernaut (Tony Schumacher, Leah Pritchett, Spencer Massey and, briefly, Shawn Langdon) but has only a semifinal victory over Brown at Houston, Texas, in 2016 on which to hang his helmet.

On the positive side, by reaching the finals for the fourth consecutive event, the 10-time pro tour winner moved up to second in the driver standings, just 30 points behind pacesetting Pritchett whose husband, Gary, is the clutch tech for Team Capco.

Although he qualified only fifth, Torrence recorded three of his four quickest career times (including a 3.677) and accelerated to a finish line speed of 332.10 miles per hour in a first round victory over Mike Salinas on Sunday, his fastest ever.  He also had times of 3.682 and 3.686 and crossed the line at speeds in excess of 330 mph three times. 

Having picked up one position in points at each of the last four races, he will try to complete his march to the top when the series moves to Epping, N.H., June 2-4, for the first of four races in four weeks.



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