Point Leader Tries to Reverse His Fortunes in Lucas Oil Nationals

August 15, 2018 -- With a second straight regular season championship clearly in sight, Steve Torrence turns his attention this week to one of the two tracks in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series on which he has neither qualified his Capco Contractors dragster No. 1 nor raced for a Top Fuel winner’s trophy.

Nevertheless, when qualifying begins Friday in the 37th Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, the 35-year-old Texan will enjoy a 161-point advantage over his nearest Top Fuel rival with just two race weekends remaining before the NHRA adjusts the point totals for the start of the six-race Countdown to the Championship.

“We feel pretty confident,” Torrence said of his bid to again get the No. 1 starting spot in the playoffs, “but that’s not our ultimate goal.  It’s just a means to an end.  We let the championship get away from us last year and there’s not a single person on this team who isn’t committed to closing the deal this time.”

Torrence dominated a year ago when he won a category best eight tour events plus the now defunct Traxxas Nitro Shootout. 

Nevertheless, after crashing heavily at his home track (the Texas Motorplex outside Dallas) in the fourth race of the Countdown, the 21-time tour winner was unable to sustain his momentum in a back-up car that was identical in composition but certainly not in personality.

“You never can predict what is going to happen in this sport,” acknowledged the cancer and heart attack survivor.  “You just have to stay focused and stay positive and trust your brothers on this race team.”

Although he’s never won at BIR, Torrence did drive his way into the semifinals just a year ago before losing to close friend Antron Brown, the same Antron Brown to whom he lost in the semifinals two weeks ago at Seattle, Wash., in an event in which he could have all but clinched the No. 1 seed.

“I knew he wouldn’t be down for long,” Torrence said of the three-time series champion who went on to win Seattle and end a season-long victory drought.   “It probably won’t be the last time we race each other.  I’m sure we’ll see those guys in the Countdown.

“We’ve had a bullseye on our backs all year and I’ve got no problem with that,” said the man who is trying to become the first in history to win NHRA championships in both the Fuel and Alcohol categories.   He was the Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion in 2005.

“Every time we go up there we know we have to be at our best and that makes us focus,” Torrence said.  “Our goal is the same as it always is.  We plan to win this week and then repeat at Indy (in the 65th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals over Labor Day weekend) but, to be honest, I can’t wait to start the Countdown.”


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