Regular Season Champ Leads the Top Fuel Contingent at 34th Dodge Nationals

September 12, 2018 -- His once imposing lead reduced to a paltry 20 points after the NHRA’s “adjustment” of the driver standings, Steve Torrence goes back to work this week trying to turn regular season dominance into playoff success, something he was unable to do a year ago.

Winner of 13 of the last 42 Mello Yello tour events, twice as many as any other driver in the class, the 35-year-old Texan’s first piece of playoff business will be to end a career-long victory drought at Maple Grove Raceway which, in a flip-flopped schedule, plays host to the first of the six races comprising the Countdown to the Championship.

“We only know one way to race,” the driver of the Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster said of his team’s strategy for the 34th annual Dodge Nationals, beginning Friday.  “We’re not going to change for the Countdown. 

“Last year, Brittany (reigning champion Brittany Force) had a great run but I still think we could have held her off if we hadn’t crashed our car at Dallas,” lamented the man who seemed to have things well in hand until that crash forced him into a back-up car for the final two events.  “But things happen.  It’s just racing.  You play the hand you’re dealt and we’re okay with that.

“When you get that close, though, so close you can taste it, it just makes you that much hungrier,” he admitted.  “It just makes you want it that much more.  We’ve been waiting all year to get another shot and I think these Capco boys are up for it.”

Before the aforementioned “adjustment,” Torrence led his closest rival by 197 points, almost 10 rounds.  Now, though, it’s anybody’s ball game. 

“Richard Hogan and Bobby (Lagana Jr.) have a good handle on the tune-up,” Torrence said of the mechanical minds who have kept him atop the driver standings since the second race of the current campaign and after 27 of the last 32 events overall. “So, if I just do my job, we’re gonna have a good chance to win every week.”

The 2005 Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion, Torrence’s pro career didn’t take off until he formed his own team in 2012.   Since then, he has won 21 times and finished ninth, tenth, sixth, eighth, third and second in Mello Yello points.

After winning eight races a year ago, Torrence added five more this year to become the first driver in Top Fuel history, and just the fifth overall, to win back-to-back regular season championships.

He is trying to become the first in NHRA history to win series championships in both the Fuel and Alcohol divisions.


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