CAPCO Driver Among Favorites in Dodge Nationals

September 19, 2017 -- Entering this week’s 33rd annual Dodge Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, Texan Steve Torrence has bigger concerns than simply the talent of those against whom he is competing for the $500,000 NHRA Top Fuel championship.

Like everyone else who has raced at The Grove the past several years, Torrence likely will have one eye on the Christmas Tree and the other on the weather when he pulls his potent Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster to the starting line for the first of four scheduled qualifying runs.

That’s because, historically, rain has plagued the Northeast’s second biggest drag race.  In fact, the last two years have been near washouts with rain so extensive that it limited the Mello Yello touring pros to a single qualifying run in advance of eliminations. Those aren’t the best circumstances in which to contest playoff drag races.

“That’s not how you want to decide the championship,” Torrence said.  “That’s why the NHRA decided to flip-flop Reading and St. Louis (site next week of the AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals) and right now it looks like a really good move.”

Regardless of the weather, though, Torrence fully expects to be in contention on Sunday.  The 34-year-old cancer survivor, in the midst of his best season since turning pro, has won a category-best seven races this year and, after securing the regular season championship, will start the Dodge Nationals trailing Doug Kalitta by less than one racing round.

“Obviously, you want to win the first race in the Countdown,” Torrence said.  “That’s everybody’s goal, but there’s only one guy (or one girl) who’s gonna do that.  In Top Fuel, it was Doug (Kalitta).  Now, he’s the guy with the target on his back and we’re all chasing him.  Having said that, I think we’re still in a really good spot.  Like I’ve said, I’m confident in my car, my team and myself.”

Maple Grove is one of a dwindling number of tracks on which Torrence remains winless.  In fact, in four appearances in the Dodge Nationals, the avid outdoorsman has won only a single round in competition.  It’s an issue he hopes to address this week and one he hopes to address under cloudless skies.

Third in driver points a year ago, Torrence is trying to become the first driver to win NHRA series titles in both the fuel and alcohol divisions.  He was the Top Alcohol Dragster champion in 2005.

He comes into the Dodge Nationals having qualified eighth or better in 50 straight races, the longest such streak in the category.


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