Texan Beats Brown in Summernationals Final

June 11, 2017 -- Steve Torrence, who had beaten reigning Mello Yello Top Fuel champion Antron Brown just one time in 23 meetings prior to Sunday, took the first major step in what he hopes is a significant turning point in their thus far one-sided on-track rivalry Sunday when he upset the New Jersey native in a classic final to repeat as champion at the 48th annual NHRA Summernationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. 
The 34-year-old Texan, who has driven his Capco Contractors dragster into the finals in five of the last six races, used a slight starting line advantage and a 3.857 second 1,000-foot time to get his 11th tour victory, his third at Raceway Park where, in eight appearances, he either has bowed out in the first round or gone to the winners’ circle.

“That’s only one-in-a-row,” beamed an ecstatic Torrence after beating Brown who, off the track, is one of his closest friends, “but it was a big one.  If we’re going to win the championship, we know we’re going to have to beat that guy more than once every couple years.  He’s bad ass.  That team is bad ass – but so is this one.”

By reaching the money round both Brown and Torrence leapfrogged previous point leader Leah Pritchett, who was upended in round one by Don Schumacher Racing teammate and eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher.  When racing resumes on Friday in Bristol, Tenn., site of the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Torrence will trail Brown by a scant seven points in the battle for the $500,000 Mello Yello Championship.  Pritchett is 29 behind Torrence.

Although Brown qualified No. 1 and had the lane choice option entering the final, Torrence never trailed after winning the reaction time battle (.061-.065).  He was ahead by .009 of a second at 60 feet, stretched it to .013 at 330 feet and to .045 (3.105-3.150) at 660 feet.  His margin at the finish was .0795 of a second.

“My guys did one helluva job,” Torrence said.  “With the weather change, we never missed a beat.  They gave me a car that could run either lane; that could run in the heat and the cool.  You couldn’t ask for more.  Richard Hogan, Bobby Lagana (Jr.) and A.J. (tuning consultant Alan Johnson) made all the right calls.  The pressure was on me because the only thing I could do was screw it up.”

En route to the podium, Torrence extended to 41 the number of consecutive races in which he has qualified eighth or better (a category best) and to 14 the number of successive events in which he has advanced beyond the first round.

“We just have to keep it going,” he said.  “It doesn’t get any easier and Antron and Leah aren’t going anywhere.  They’re going to be there every week trying to kick our butts.  It’s gonna be fun.”



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