Point Leader Goes for Record Fourth Straight NHRA Countdown Victory

October 11, 2018 -- With an elusive Mello Yello Championship once again clearly in sight, Steve Torrence tries to seal the deal this week when he sends his Capco Contractors dragster after the Top Fuel title in the 11th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

Halfway through the NHRA’s six-race Countdown to the Championship, Torrence leads second place Clay Millican by a whopping 103 points on the strength of consecutive victories at Reading, Pa., St. Louis and Dallas.

Nevertheless, despite the fact that he’s five full rounds clear of the field, despite the fact that over the last two years he’s won three times as many races as any other Top Fuel driver, despite the fact that he’s unbeaten in eight final round appearances this year, the outspoken Texan is not in a celebratory mood.  Not yet, anyway.

“We know what can happen,” he said.  “We know how quick you can go from hero to zero out here.  There are three more races and our mindset hasn’t changed.  Our goal is to win every race starting with Charlotte.”

Although the 35-year-old Texan clearly knows his way to the winners’ circle at zMAX having won the last two four-wide races, his record in the fall is far less imposing.  In fact, the Carolina Nationals is one of only three tour events in which he has neither qualified No. 1 nor reached the final round.

Based on his overall performance the last two seasons, though, it seems unfathomable for that drought to continue much longer.   After all, he’s won 16 of the last 40 tour events.  He’s won more races over the last two seasons, in fact, than the whole roster of Top Fuel drivers at Don Schumacher Racing combined.

“These Capco guys, I can’t say enough about them,” Torrence said of a crew led by a now healthy Richard Hogan, back from a medical procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat, and Bobby Lagana Jr.  “They’ve had my back all year and when you go up there knowing you can slap the biggest guy in the bar and probably come out unscathed, it makes you feel pretty good. 

 “You know, we’re here to take care of unfinished business just like we did last week in Dallas,” said the man who as a teenager beat Hodgkins lymphoma.  “We felt like we got robbed last year (losing the championship to Brittany Force on the final day of
the season after a Dallas crash forced him into a backup car) and we’re doing everything we possibly can to not let that happen (again). 

“We’re just going to continue to try to do the best job that we can and let the good Lord handle the rest,” Torrence said, “and that’s really taken the pressure off.  We know that if we all do our jobs, we can win every round.  That’s our mindset.”


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