Torrence Out in Semis at Thunder Valley
But CAPCO Driver Moves Into Mello Yello Point Lead

June 18, 2017 -- Tennessee – Steve Torrence failed in his bid to get his dad a Top Fuel victory on Father’s Day Sunday, but the talented Texan did manage to leave Bristol Dragway with the Mello Yello point lead after taking is Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster to the semifinal round at the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

Although he lost to eventual race winner Clay Millican in the semifinals, Torrence moved past close friend Antron Brown and into first place in the driver standings for just the second time in his pro career.  He will start qualifying for this week’s 11th annual Summit Racing Equipment Nationals at Norwalk, Ohio 11 points ahead of Leah Pritchett and 20 ahead of Brown, who was upset Sunday in round two.

While he failed to get what would have been a career-best fourth win in a single season, Torrence did extend two impressive streaks.  The 34-year-old cancer survivor qualified in the top half of the field for the 42nd consecutive time, a category best, and extended to 15 the number of successive events in which he has advanced out of the first round. 

“It was a tough weekend,” Torrence said.  “The heat was a problem but when it seemed like you had a little bit of a handle on it, you’d have a rain shower and it would cool off a little bit and change everything. 
“If it hadn’t rained Saturday night, there’s no way we would have qualified No. 1, but today may have been payback.  We were getting ready for the semis and it rained again.  But who knows?  All I can say is it was brutal on the crew chiefs.  But credit the Capco guys.  They’re real warriors.  We did what we had to do to win a couple more rounds and that’s how you win championships.

“I want to take a minute to say congratulations to Clay for his first NHRA win (in his 254th NHRA event),” Torrence said.  “And to win it in his home state, too.  I know how much I want to win the races in Texas so I know him and (crew chief David) Grubnic and their guys will have a lot to celebrate.”

An 11-time winner since moving up to the pro tour on a full-time basis in 2012, Torrence last was No. 1 in points on Feb. 28, 2016 after winning the season-opening Winternationals at Pomona, Calif.  It took him 34 races to get back to the top but the accomplishment will not warrant much of a celebration.

“The only time it means anything to be No. 1 is after the last car goes down the track at Pomona (at the season-ending Auto Club Finals),” he said.   “The first time was a milestone.  Now being No. 1 is just a means to an end.   All it does is give you a little head start when you get to the Countdown.”

Torrence’s Thunder Valley weekend included a first round match with Chris “the Golden Greek” Karamesines, the 85-year-old who already was drag racing legend before Torrence was born and remains one today.



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