Point Leader Plans to Keep Pressure on Rivals at the Dodge Mile-High Nationals

July 18, 2018 -- His Mello Yello point lead is so big that Texan Steve Torrence could have stayed home this week, not turned a tire at the 39th annual Dodge Mile-High Nationals and still been four rounds ahead of his nearest rival when the NHRA drag racing tour moved next week to Sonoma, Calif.

He could have caught up on the paperwork at his day job at Capco Contractors, hung out with his dogs, Gus and Cuatro, relaxed with girlfriend Natalie Jahnke, indulged in one of his several hobbies or maybe donned his cowboy hat and done a little calf-roping.

Instead, he’ll be back in the cockpit of his 10,000 horsepower Top Fuel dragster Friday when qualifying begins at Bandimere Speedway in the first of three races-in-three-weeks that comprise the NHRA’s grueling Western Swing.

Skipping an event never was an option for the 35-year-old point leader who has been a man on a mission since losing the championship last year in the second round of the final race of the season.

After dominating all year long, as he has done again this season, seeing the title slip away as it did was agonizing for the cancer survivor who is trying to become the first driver in NHRA history to win championships in both the Fuel and Alcohol divisions.  He was the Top Alcohol Dragster champion in 2005.

“When you get to that point,” Torrence said of the 2017 campaign, “when you get so close that you can taste it and it doesn’t happen, it makes you want it even more.  Maybe my attitude wasn’t right then (when he was openly critical of the NHRA’s Countdown format), but it is now.”

That attitude has been one of focus and determination. 

“Our goal is the crush ‘em every race,” said the 21-time pro tour winner.  “Leave nothing to chance.  Take no prisoners.”

While he hasn’t won every race this year, it must seem so to some of his rivals for the $500,000 championship.

Not only has he won five times, more often than anyone else in the class including eight-time series champion Tony Schumacher, he hasn’t gone more than two events without celebrating in the winners’ circle.  Coming off a triumph in the most recent race in the series two weeks ago at Epping, N.H., Torrence now has won 13 times in his last 33 starts and has been No. 1 in points after 22 of the last 27 events including 12 of 13 this season.

“I give all the credit to God and to the guys that work on this race car,” he said.  “I wouldn’t trade any one of them.  Hoagie (crew chief Richard Hogan), Bobby (Lagana  Jr.), everybody.  We’re a band of brothers committed to one goal and that’s to close the deal and win this thing.”


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