Reigning Champ Streaks to No. 1 Qualifying Position at Auto Club Finals

November 16, 2019 -- A struggling Steve Torrence showed why he has dominated Top Fuel drag racing over the last three seasons by driving his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster to the No. 1 qualifying position in advance of Sunday’s 55th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway.

The 36-year-old Texan, who is locked in a battle for the current championship with 2017 champion Brittany Force and veteran Doug Kalitta, entered the final qualifying session only 14th in the order.

He and crew chiefs Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr. responded with a time of 3.689 seconds that propelled them past Leah Pritchett to the No. 1 starting spot for the 24th time overall, for the fifth time this season and for the second straight race at Pomona.

A nine-time race winner this season, Torrence will oppose journeyman Cameron Ferre in round one but it is a potential second round showdown with Force that could decide the title. 

The point leader attributed Friday problems to being overly aggressive.

“We were trying to run a .64 or a .65 (on Friday) and the track just wouldn’t hold it,” he said.  “So, today we went for a layup on the first run (a time of 3.746 seconds) that gave us a starting point and, after that, Richard and Bobby tuned it up. 

“I didn’t really know if that would stand up for No. 1,” he said.  “There were a lot of good cars running behind us and the conditions kept getting better, but we weren’t thinking No. 1 when we went up there, so we were happy. 

“We just wanted to make a representative run that would get us in the top half and get us lane choice tomorrow,” said the 36-time tour winner.  “We were able to do that so we feel pretty good going in.  Brittany’s got a great team and a great car and you can’t forget about Doug. It’ll be exciting, which is what the NHRA wanted.”

Meanwhile, Billy Torrence, who entered the race fourth in points, drove the second Capco entry to the No. 5 starting position at 3.701 seconds, 327.51 mph.  Unfortunately, he wound up on the same side of the ladder as his son. If both advance, they would meet in the semifinals.

# # #