Two Straight Wins Boost CAPCO Driver to Third in Points

May 7, 2017 -- when Steve Torrence sped down the concrete-and-asphalt course at Atlanta Dragway to beat Tony Schumacher for his very first Mello Yello tour victory, he benefitted greatly from the element of surprise. 

When he repeated that success in Sunday’s 37th annual Lucas Oil Southern Nationals, it was a surprise to no one, least of all Schumacher, the eight-time NHRA world champion who for the second straight week was relegated to runner-up status while Torrence celebrated in the winners’ circle.

The 34-year-old Texan, who has overcome cancer and survived a heart attack to emerge as the biggest threat to Don Schumacher Racing’s continued dominance of the Top Fuel division, turned in an almost flawless performance Sunday at the wheel of a Capco Contractors dragster prepared by crew chief Richard Hogan, tuning consultant Alan Johnson and a battle-tested crew.

Although he didn’t enjoy the lane choice option for the final, it really didn’t matter.  The former Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion (2005) threw down a 3.745 second, 320.81 mile-an-hour effort against Schumacher whose bid was over when his car began to lose traction and slowed to 4.061 seconds.

It was another frustrating result for the future Hall of Famer who remains winless at Atlanta and who has but one victory in six final round showdowns with Torrence and his family-owned and family-funded race team. 

In winning, Torrence reached two career milestones.  One, he raced in his third consecutive Top Fuel final.  Two, he won back-to-back for the first time in his pro career.  On consecutive weekends, he lost to point leader Leah Pritchett in the final round at Houston (by .015 of a second), beat Schumacher, Pritchett and Terry McMillen to win the NHRA 4Wide Nationals at Charlotte and beat Schumacher again, to win Atlanta.

As a result, he heads into the Mother’s Day break in third place in Mello Yello points, the same position in which he finished a year ago.  He has gained one position in each of the last three races and now trails second place Schumacher by less than two racing rounds (35 points).

“I love my mom (Kay),” Torrence enthused, “but I hate that we’re not racing on Mother’s Day.   I know she does, too, because you don’t have streaks like this too often, especially racing against teams like DSR and Kalitta (Motorsports) and JFR (John Force Racing).  My guys are doing a helluva job and I’m just trying not to screw it up.”

So far, so good. 

After sitting through Friday’s rainout, Torrence guided his hybrid hot rod down the 1,000 foot course in 3.738, 3.738, 3.753, 3.746, 3.769 and, finally, 3.745 seconds.  Three runs in the left lane, three in the right with a variance of only .031 of a second.

Sunday’s win was the 10th for Torrence since he began racing full-time on the Mello Yello tour in 2012.  By qualifying No. 2 behind Schumacher, he extended to 38 the number of consecutive races for which he has qualified eighth or better, longest such streak in the category.  He also ran to 11 straight the number of consecutive races in which he has avoided a first round loss, a personal best.



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