Texan Eyes Fifth Straight Final in CAPCO Dragster

May 31, 2017 -- Whether the sport is competitive shooting, baseball, basketball or drag racing, the most successful practitioners are those who can achieve a rhythm – and then maintain it. 

In layman’s terms, it’s called being “in the zone” and it is where Texan Steve Torrence has been living large the last month-and-a-half at the wheel of a Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster in which this week he will try to reach the final round of a fifth consecutive Mello Yello tour event when he competes in the fifth annual New England Nationals..

“The race car I have right now is the best race car I’ve ever had in my life,” Torrence said and, based on recent performance which includes a streak of 39 consecutive races in which he has started eighth of better, it’s an assertion that would be difficult to dispute.

With driver and race car functioning seemingly as one, the 34-year-old cancer survivor, taekwondo master and avid outdoorsman has managed to gain one position in the Top Fuel driver standings in each of the last four races. 

As a result, he returns to New England Dragway, a track on which he was runner-up a year ago, trailing only Leah Pritchett in the race for the $500,000 Mello Yello championship.  Significantly, Torrence is the only Top Fuel driver to have served up an answer this season to the juggernaut that is Don Schumacher Racing.

Led by Pritchett, who has a category-high three wins, Tony Schumacher and Antron Brown, DSR has won six of eight Top Fuel races contested thus far.  Torrence has won the other two and that is an admitted source of great pride within the family-owned and funded one-car team. 

“We run it out of our pockets,” Torrence said of the team he founded in 2012, “and that speaks volumes about what you can achieve with hard work, dedication and a lot of heart.  It gives all of us an extra sense of accomplishment to go out and be able to compete (with DSR and the other multi-car mega-teams).”

While the Richard Hogan-tuned Capco entry has been the most consistent Top Fuel dragster over the last two seasons, the difference this year has been Torrence’s driving.

“When you’re confident in your race car, it makes you a better driver,” he said, “and right now I’m ‘driving like a machine,’” a phrase so often used by eight-time champion Tony Schumacher in describing his own experience “in the zone.”

Some have misinterpreted that confidence as arrogance especially after Torrence engaged in some trash talk with his DSR rivals.  Nevertheless, the talented Texan insists that it’s all in good fun. 

“I’m not trying to hurt anybody’s feelings by saying anything bad about them,” explained the 2005 Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion.  “I’m just stirring the pot a little bit.  Yeah, I may have ruffled a couple of feathers and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t meant to do it, but in a non-malicious kind of way.  We’re all really competitive and when you get the upper hand, even for a minute, you want to thump your chest a little because you know it won’t last.  Right now, I’ve having so much fun.”

The 10-time tour winner is not naïve enough to think that his current streak is going to last forever.

“We’re just gonna ride this horse as long as we can,” he said.  “I’ve got a really bad-ass group of guys but it’s going to be a long, hard-fought battle for the championship.  I think we’ve got a good opportunity to prove that we can win it as a one-car team.  It may be more difficult but I think it can be done. 

“You work really hard and eventually, if you look up and find you’re having some success, it makes you proud,” he said.   “You want to go out and beat your chest a little bit and throw those little jabs out there at some of these other teams that are a little more established with bigger budgets and way more personnel.  I think it’s good to race with a little chip on your shoulder.”



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