Point Leader Guilty of Rare Foul Start in Opening Round of Toyota Nationals

July 29, 2018 -- A rare foul start sent Steve Torrence to the sidelines Sunday in the very first round of the 31st annual Toyota Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway but the talented Texan will move on to Seattle for this week’s conclusion to the arduous Western Swing with his 100-plus point lead still intact.

“There’s no way to put lipstick on this one and make it look any better,” a disappointed-but-philosophical Torrence said after leaving the starting line too early against Doug Kalitta.   “When you’re racing those Kalitta boys, you know you have to squeeze every little bit of performance out of the race car and the driver.  Today the driver just squeezed a little too hard.

“All you can do is put this one in the rearview mirror and move on down the road and that’s what we’re gonna do,” said the driver of the Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster.   “We’ll regroup, get Hoagie (crew chief Richard Hogan) healthy again and get after ‘em in Seattle.”

The dominant driver in the category over the last two seasons during which he has won 13 times, Torrence hadn’t exited a tour event via the foul start in almost five years.  The last time he did so was at Brainerd, Minn., in 2013.

“They say if you don’t red light every now and then you’re not trying hard enough,” Torrence said, “but that don’t make you feel any better about it.  The only good thing is I’ll be strapped back into this thing in five days with a chance to redeem myself.”

When qualifying begins Friday at Pacific Raceways, Torrence will lead eight-time series champion Tony Schumacher by 137 points in his bid to win the NHRA’s regular season championship for the second consecutive year.

“Our goal is the same as it was before,” said the 35-year-old cancer survivor “and that is to win the rest of the races and go into the Countdown with some momentum.  We’ve been on a mission all year and that mission isn’t over.  Today was just one of those little speed bumps that helps keep you humble and focused.”

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