Track Record-Holder Seeks First Midwest Nationals Win

September 26, 2017 -- Back in the point lead after a runner-up finish last week at Reading, Pa., Texan Steve Torrence resumes his “In Defiance of Conventional Wisdom” tour this week when he sends the Capco Contractors dragster after the Top Fuel title in the 20th AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Having already become the first single-car team to win the regular season championship since the NHRA adopted the current playoff format (in 2007), Torrence Racing now is focused on claiming the overall title and the $500,000 Mello Yello bonus that comes with it.

“There’s no magic to it,” Torrence said.  “It’s just getting the right guys, the right parts and pieces and then doing the work.  My guys have worked their butts off this year and that’s the reason we’re where we are.  It’s about the driver, the crew chief and every crew member doing his job every lap and these guys have done it better than anybody.” 

Told it wasn’t possible to compete against the big conglomerates with a single car, the 34-year-old cancer survivor responded by winning a category-best seven times during the regular season.  It’s a performance that won over most of the skeptics especially since it included a victory in the Labor Day U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, the sport’s biggest event.

Although he has not yet won at Gateway, nor even reached the final round, he feels good about his chances due in no small part to the fact the he is the track record holder at 3.716 seconds.

“Yeah, we set the record a couple years ago (2015) so we’re not coming in here without any data or without a plan,” Torrence said.  “(Crew chief Richard) Hogan’s got a good handle on the hot weather tune-up so we’re expecting to go rounds.”

Hogan’s expertise is reflected in the fact that Torrence has started 51 straight races from No. 8 or better, the longest such active streak in the sport.  The last time he started a race without the lane choice option in round one was in July of 2015 at Seattle, Wash. 

A 15-time winner since moving up to Top Fuel, Torrence is trying to become the first driver in history to win NHRA series championships in both the alcohol and fuel divisions.  He was the Top Alcohol Dragster champion in 2005.  His best finish in Top Fuel was third a year ago.

Torrence will start the qualifying phase 22 points ahead of Doug Kalitta, who won the first race in the Countdown, and 23 ahead of Force, who won the second.


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