Texan Leads Top Fuel Field into Carolina Nationals

September 13, 2017 -- North Carolina – Halfway to his goals of becoming the first driver to win NHRA series championships in both the fuel and alcohol divisions and the first independent to win a Top Fuel title in the Countdown Era, Texan Steve Torrence returns this week to zMAX Dragway, the track on which he won the first of his category-best seven Mello Yello tour events this season.

The regular season champion at the wheel of a Capco Contractors dragster tuned by Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr., Torrence will start this week’s 10th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals, the first of six playoff races that will decide the championship, 20 points ahead of close friend Antron Brown from whom he is trying to wrest a championship that has been his three of the last five years.

“We’ve found a recipe for success and the car has done what we’ve told it to do,” Torrence said.  “I’m confident in my car, my team and myself.  I’m not concerned about anybody but us.  We’re just staying focused on what got us to where we are.”

Indeed, Torrence and his team of self-titled “outlaws and misfits” already have defied conventional wisdom which suggested that it was impossible for a one-car team to compete for an overall championship with racing conglomerates like Don Schumacher Racing, Kalitta Motorsports and John Force Racing.

Nevertheless, while there has not yet been a changing of the guard (multi-car teams have won the championship each of the 10 years since the Countdown format was implemented) Torrence has put together an effort strong enough to cast some doubt on the validity of the original premise.

The 10,000 horsepower Capco dragster has been the most consistent in the category for most of the last two seasons.  The difference this year has been Torrence’s direct contribution as driver.

Entering the playoffs, the 34-year-old cancer survivor leads the key statistical category for a driver which is average reaction time.  His average for the 16-race regular season was .060, better even than Brown (.063).  Significantly, though, when Torrence and Brown have gone head-to-head, as they have seven times this season, four times in final rounds, Torrence’s numbers are even better.

The Texan’s average reaction time against the reigning champ is .048.  Brown’s average against Torrence is .054, .009 better than his overall.  The upshot is that any time the two friends have lined up against one another this year, it’s been worth the price of admission and, by the way, Torrence has a 4-3 advantage for 2017 and is 3-1 in final rounds.

“(The season) is a true testament to my guys and how driven they are,” Torrence said after winning the Labor Day Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis (and beating Brown in round two).  “We’re in the best position we can possibly be and I’m excited about that.”

As for zMAX Dragway, a track on which he has struggled in the playoffs, Torrence is hoping to build on his victory last spring in the NHRA 4Wide Nationals.

“You enjoy going back to the tracks where you’ve got good info and have had success,” Torrence said, “so after winning last spring and after a couple of No. 1 qualifiers, I’m excited about Charlotte.  We just want to keep the ball rolling.”


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