Billy No. 1 Qualifier at Phoenix as Steve Struggles

February 23, 2019 -- Reigning World Champion Steve Torrence struggled to get down a cold racetrack Saturday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park and, as a result, will start Sunday’s 35th annual Magic Dry Organic Absorbent Arizona Nationals from his poorest qualifying position in more than five years.

Torrence, the defending race champion, qualified only 14th at the controls of a Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster in which he dominated the NHRA Mello Yello Series in 2018.   As a result, he will line up for Sunday’s first round beside close friend and rival Antron Brown, who qualified third.   It’s his worst starting position in his last 121 races.

Ironically, the champ’s father, Billy Torrence, had no such issues and secured the second No. 1 qualifier of his career by speeding to a track record time of 3.667 seconds at 328.46 miles per hour in the second Capco hybrid.  That will send him off against journeyman Terry Totten in round one.

It’s worth noting that the last time the elder Torrence started from the front was last August 19 at Brainerd, Minn., where he earned his first and thus far only pro tour victory by beating Brown in the final round.

Meanwhile, the champ had a best of only 5.682 seconds in two attempts Saturday after opting out of Friday’s lone session because of weather and track conditions.  The No. 14 start is his worst since Nov. 9, 2013 when he started 15th in the Auto Club Finals at Pomona, Calif. 

“We were just too aggressive,” Torrence said of two tractionless runs, “but my old man got us some data that should help us.  The good thing is that we still are on opposite sides of the ladder; the bad thing is we’ve got to get around Antron in the first round and that’s never easy to do even when you have lane choice.  On the other hand, you never want to count these bad-to-the-bone Capco boys out.”


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