CAPCO Driver Aims for Third Summernationals Victory

June 7, 2017 -- He may be 1,500 miles from his home in Kilgore, Texas, but there are few tracks on which Top Fuel driver Steve Torrence feels more comfortable than he does at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, site this week of the 48th annual NHRA Summernationals.

The 34-year-old cancer survivor has driven his Capco Contractors dragster to victory in two of his last five trips to New Jersey, has qualified among the quick eight in every start and last June went wire-to-wire, qualifying No. 1 and beating eight-time NHRA World Champion Tony Schumacher in the final round. 

Nevertheless, for Torrence, what really sets the Summernationals apart from every other race in the Mello Yello Series is the “Lagana Factor.”

The race is a homecoming for Capco car chief Bobby Lagana Jr., 40, and younger brother Dom, 31, both natives of Scarsdale, N.Y., who literally grew up at Raceway Park where their dad, the late Bobby Lagana Sr., was a fixture as owner and driver of a host of low budget pro entries including the “Twilight Zone” and “American Challenger” Funny Cars.

The senior Lagana instilled in his sons a love of God, love of country, love of people and, finally, a love of one of the world’s most extreme sports, one in which a single nitromethane-burning V8 can produce more than 10,000 horsepower and in which a Top Fuel dragster can cover a 1,000 feet, from a standing start, in fewer than 3.70 seconds.

Although they learned racing from the bottom up working on their dad’s cars, both Lagana brothers have driven dragsters at more than 300 miles per hour.  Dom will do so again this weekend using a tune-up for the family’s “Nitro Ninja” dragster provided by Bobby with the blessing of Torrence, crew chief Richard Hogan and tuning consultant Alan Johnson.

“We share data and ideas,” Torrence said.  “It’s always a big deal when Bobby and Dom can run their own car.  It gives us a teammate against all the multi-car teams out here.”

As for the Laganas, who’ll probably try to work a Yankees game into their schedule in advance of Friday qualifying, Torrence Racing feels like home.  It’s a family-owned, family-operated team.  Sure, it has resources to which the senior Lagana never had access, but it’s still people and what they can accomplish when they work together.

“You spend every weekend with these guys and they become your family,” Torrence said. “We’re like brothers.  I trust them with my life.  You form that bond and when anybody is down, you support them.  That’s what families do; that’s what we do.  We suffer together and we celebrate together.”

A 10-time pro tour winner and former Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion (2005), Torrence has gone to four final rounds this year with victories at Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta, Ga., a performance that sends him into the Summernationals in third place, just 63 points off Pritchett’s lead.



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