CAPCO Driver Runner-Up Three of the Last Four Years

August 30, 2017 -- If one was asked to name the pro driver who has won the most competitive rounds in the last four renewals of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, contested this week for the 63rd time, it’s likely that Texan Steve Torrence would not be anyone’s first choice.

However, he would be the correct one.     

Despite the fact that he’s yet to hoist the Top Fuel trophy at the world’s biggest drag race, Torrence has been close enough three of the last four years to taste the Mello Yello.  He was runner-up to Shawn Langdon in 2013, to Richie Crampton in 2014 and, a year ago, lost in the final to Tony Schumacher.  In addition, he is a two-time runner-up in the accompanying Traxxas Nitro Shootout. 

It is that history of success that sends the 34-year-old Texan back to Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis brimming with confidence in his team and in the Capco Contractors dragster in which he has won a category-best six times this season.

“I think (crew chief) Richard Hogan and the Capco guys have a good handle on the Indy tune-up and we’re past due to win this thing,” Torrence said. 

After finishing third in points a year ago, Torrence has emerged this season as the biggest threat to a three-peat by close friend Antron Brown. 

“We know we have the potential,” Torrence said.  “Now it’s all about the execution.”

Torrence will start The Big Go trailing Brown by 31 points; leading Leah Pritchett for 32.  They are the only three in contention for the No. 1 starting spot in the Countdown, NHRA’s version of the World Series.  Whomever is atop the standings Monday night will start the playoffs 30 points ahead of the field.

“That’s huge,” Torrence said.  “I think the champion has started from No. 1 more often in Top Fuel than any other class (six times in 10 years).  That’s our goal.”

After overcoming Hodgkins lymphoma and last year’s heart attack, the challenge of outdueling the three drivers that comprise the Don Schumacher Racing juggernaut (Brown, Pritchett and 10-time Indy winner Tony Schumacher) is not nearly as daunting as it might be for someone else.

“Beating the best is what it’s all about.  That’s our motivation,” Torrence said.  “We’ve been told it’s not possible to beat the big teams with one car but we think we’ve got the car and the crew to do it.”

In the last four years, Torrence has won nine rounds at Indy.  That’s one more than Shawn Langdon in Top Fuel, Robert Hight and Del Worsham in Funny Car and Shane Gray in Pro Stock.  Significantly, Brown hasn’t advanced out of the second round during that same span.

“We bring out the best in each other,” Torrence said of Brown, to whom he had lost 20 times in 21 meetings before turning things around this year (three wins in seven head-to-head battles, all in final rounds).


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