Point Leader Can Make Drag Racing History at The Strip at LVMS

October 25, 2018 -- Their season of retribution almost complete, Steve Torrence and the “Capco Boys” race for a piece of straight-line history this week when the NHRA Mello Yello tour moves to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the 18th renewal of the Toyota Nationals.

Torrence, the 35-year-old Texan who beat cancer, survived a heart attack and rejected the premise that an independent couldn’t win a championship in the NHRA’s “mega-team era,” will roll his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster to the starting line for Friday’s first qualifying session with that “unachievable” title very much in sight.

“To be honest, we don’t change anything,” Torrence said of his approach to an event in which he could clinch the $500,000 championship and put behind him the crushing disappointment he experienced one year ago when he saw the title slip away on the final day of the season.

“We just need to stay focused, try to qualify well and go some rounds,” said the man who has led the Top Fuel points for 21 of 22 races this season and for 31 of the last 36 tour events.  “We’ve gotten to where (we are by) staying extremely focused, taking it one race, one round at a time.”

That laser focus has carried Torrence and his team to the very brink of history.  A couple of round wins on Sunday and the Kilgore College graduate not only would become the first independent to win the title since the NHRA adopted the current playoff format in 2007 but the first driver ever to win NHRA championships in both the Fuel and Alcohol divisions.

Nevertheless, there could be an even bigger bounty.  With a win on Sunday, Torrence would become the first driver to win five races in a single Countdown and would become just the seventh pro driver, regardless of discipline, to win double-digit events in a single season.

Torrence, who won the NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster world championship in 2005, gives all the credit for that success to his crew of “outlaws and misfits.”

“It’s remarkable to sit back and just watch,” he said of a team led by crew chief Richard Hogan and right-hand man Bobby Lagana Jr.  “What they’re able to do, time and time again, is impressive.  The guys are just tough.  They work hard to keep this thing going.  It’s a passion and what they love to do.

“Everybody sets out to be a winner and a champion,” Torrence continued, “but it’s difficult to get there.  It takes a lot of determination and these guys put in the work. If they get knocked down, they just stand back up.”

Of course, despite his protestations, Torrence is at the heart of the team’s success as driver (.040 reaction times in the last three rounds on the way to winning two weeks ago at Charlotte, N.C., for instance), organizer and, whenever necessary, motivator. 

“It helps that (we’ve) been in the situation before,” he said.  “(This week) we still have to do the same thing.  Your job doesn’t change (and) if you look at it that way, it makes it easier.  You need to enjoy the moment (and) I’m having so much fun (because) at the end of the day I’m driving a Top Fuel dragster and racing for a championship.  Not many people get that opportunity and I am thankful for it.  I’m thankful to the Lord, thankful to my parents and thankful to all these Capco boys.

“We’re going to follow the same script this week and race as hard as we know how to every run,” said the 25-time pro winner.  “Then, whatever happens, happens.”


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