Torrence Favored in 38th Mopar Mile-High Nationals

July 19, 2017 -- For every Sir Edmund Hillary, who in 1953 became the first climber to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, there is a Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa guide who directed his ascent to the top of the world’s tallest mountain.

This week, when Steve Torrence assumes the Hillary role for his annual trek to Bandimere Speedway, drag racing’s equivalent of Everest, he will take comfort in the fact that Richard Hogan again has been cast as Norgay.

Together, the two on-and-off track friends have proven as formidable at high altitude as Hillary and Norgay, which is just one of the reasons Torrence is favored to win the Top Fuel title in this week’s 38th annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals, first of the three consecutive races in the critical Western Swing.

“Three years ago, Richard figured out the high altitude tune-up,” Torrence said of his crew chief  “We know what it takes to do well up there and that gives you a lot of confidence.  Of course, you still have to go do it, but it helps when you’ve been there before.”

Although he has won the tour’s most challenging event just one time (2015), Torrence has been the unofficial King of the Mountain for the last three years thanks to the expertise of Hogan and a crew of outlaws and misfits that has taken him quite literally to the top of his profession.

The 34-year-old Texan has qualified no worse than fourth in his last four Mile-High appearances with No. 1 starts in 2013 and 2016.  Moreover, his Capco Contractors entry was quickest on race day in both 2014 (3.902 seconds) and 2015 (3.891) and quickest overall in 2016 when he lowered the Bandimere Speedway track record to 3.776 seconds.  Twice in three years he has posted top speed of the meet.

In addition to his past success at altitude, Torrence comes in as the hottest driver on the Mello Yello tour with two straight victories and four wins in his last seven starts.  That performance has enabled him to climb to the top of the driver standings for just the second time in his pro career and with just six races remaining before the start of the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship.

“The biggest thing is for us to maintain the consistency we’ve had this year,” Torrence said.  “It’s hard to put a price tag on the momentum we have right now.  It’s been a lot of hard work but the guys have kept their focus and kept on target.”

Torrence, two has remained focused.  His reaction time average has equaled that of three-time and reigning World Champion Antron Brown, widely considered the best “leaver” in the sport.  He also is among the leaders in average qualifying position, race wins, final rounds and qualifying bonus points.

“It’s been a team effort and that’s what makes it so gratifying,” explained the former Top Alcohol Dragster world champion (2005).  “We’re racing against the best of the best out here including the big multi-car teams and I think the fact that we’ve been able to climb to the top of the mountain, that we’ve been able to lead the points proves that we’re in it for the long haul.”


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