Mello Yello Champ Riding Six-Race Win Streak

World ChampionFebruary 6, 2019 -- Coming off an impressive pre-season test last week at Phoenix, Ariz., reigning Mello Yello Champion Steve Torrence tries to equal the longest winning streak in Top Fuel drag racing history this week when he sends his Capco Contractors dragster after the top prize in the season-opening 59th annual Lucas Oil Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

The talented Texan closed out a monstrous 2018 campaign by becoming the first driver in history, regardless of classification, to sweep the six races comprising the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship. 

Now, he’s in position to equal Tony Schumacher’s record seven straight tour victories.  All he has to do is what he did last November in winning the Auto Club Finals or what he did in 2016 in winning the Winternationals.

Realistically, who would bet against him?

After all, over the last 50 races, the avid outdoorsman has won more often than any other FOUR drivers combined.  That’s correct.  In his last 50 starts, he has 20 wins, 14 more than Leah Pritchett and 15 more than the two drivers who immediately preceded him as champion – Brittany Force and Antron Brown. 

Furthermore, he’s won 12 straight final round matches and last week set a torrid pace when he cruised the standard 1,000 feet in 3.689 seconds at 328.78 miles per hour during the pre-season test at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix, one of 15 different racetracks on which he has won races the last two seasons.

Nevertheless, what makes the Texan’s dominance the more remarkable is that it defies conventional wisdom. 

"We’re not some big powerhouse that’s building our own parts," Torrence said.  “We buy all our stuff right off the shelf.  Whether it’s DSR (Don Schumacher Racing), Kalitta, JFR (John Force Racing) or AJ (Alan Johnson), the products are all pretty close.  It’s really all about the guys that put these things together and make the calls on the tune-up and I’ve got the best group out here.

“These Capco boys, they just pay such attention to detail,” said the 2005 NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster champ. “I can’t give them enough credit.  We went out and bought everything off the shelf, put it in a race car that we bought from Morgan Lucas Racing and went out and won the championship.  I couldn’t be prouder.”

Torrence’s success and, to a lesser extent, that of Clay Millican and Terry McMillen, has reinvigorated a Top Fuel category that previously had been dominated by the mega-teams.  Now, newcomers like Mike Salinas have adopted the Torrence model as their own.  They, too, buy off the shelf and rely on the mechanical talent of their individual teams.

“I mean, if you want the cookie cutter, professional, ‘thank my sponsors,’ ‘thank my team’ and walk off and drink Mello Yello and all that, then you’re barking up the wrong tree when you come over at this camp,” Torrence told CompetitionPlus.com.  “We wear our hearts on our sleeves. We race with passion. We’re not corporate America. 

“We don’t make money drag racing,” he said.  “We do it because we love to do it and I think that’s what this sport is built on: die-hard fans and people that want to work on their car in the garage and bring it out on the track on the weekends and race it and feel like they can relate to what we’re doing."

It’s a formula that seems to be working just fine.


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