After 27 Straight Round Wins, World Champ Loses in Top Fuel Final

February 11, 2019 -- Reigning World Champion Steve Torrence ran his Top Fuel winning streak to 27 straight rounds Monday before running afoul of veteran Doug Kalitta in the final round of the rain-postponed 59th annual Lucas Oil Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

Torrence, who won the last six races of the 2018 season, appeared fully capable of extending that streak after driving his Capco Contractors dragster to the No. 1 qualifying position at 3.657 seconds, just .002 of a second off his personal best, and breezing through the first three rounds.

In the final, though, his usually flawless Capco Contractors entry suffered a loss of traction that led to an engine failure that provided an opening for Kalitta, who slip through to win the season-opener for the second straight year.  Kalitta won in 4.014 seconds at 269.29 miles per hour.  Torrence was a tick better on the track at 4.008 but gave up a little at the starting line and that made the difference.

As a result, the 36-year-old Texas will move on to Phoenix in two weeks second in Mello Yello driver points, the first time he has not been No. 1 since last year’s Winternationals. 

“We win as a team and we lose as a team,” said Torrence.  “No excuses, we just got in a pedalfest with Doug and he won on a holeshot.  Great race, but I’m already looking forward to going to Phoenix (for the Feb. 22-24 Magic Dry Arizona Nationals). We know we’ve got a good car, we ran good at Phoenix during testing and we’ll just try to get back in the winners’ circle when we get there.

“I’m so proud of these bad-to-the-bone Capco boys.  Their blood, sweat and tears go into this team every day and that’s what makes the difference.”

The team’s focus now will shift from trying to tie Tony Schumacher’s record for consecutive Top Fuel victories to eclipsing the former champion’s record for victories over three consecutive seasons.  Schumacher won 26 races over the course of the 2007, 2008 and 2009 campaigns.  Torrence has 19 tour victories since the start of the 2017 season.

The other Capco Contractors dragster, the one driven by Steve’s dad, Billy, also fell to Kalitta in round two.


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