Mello Yello Champ Takes Up Where He Left Off

February 9, 2019 -- Same story, different verse.  Reigning Mello Yello Champion Steve Torrence, who won the final six races of the 2018 season, took the first step toward extending that streak Saturday at Auto Club Raceway.

Winner of 19 races over the last two seasons, the talented Texan stopped the 1,000-foot timers in 3.657 seconds at 331.61 miles per hour to claim the No. 1 starting position for Sunday’s 59th annual Lucas Oil Winternationals, opening event in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

Nevertheless, even though he was just .002 off his personal best time, Torrence won’t have much of a performance cushion Sunday.  That’s because his dad, Billy Torrence, finished just a couple ticks behind him in the No. 2 position with a personal best time of 3.662 seconds in the second of the Capco Contractors entries.

It will be the champ’s 20th No. 1 start since forming Torrence Racing in 2012 and it will be the second time he’s led the way at the Winternationals.  The last time he did so, 2016, he went on to win the race.  It’s the second time the Torrences have gone 1-2.  The first time it occurred was last August at Brainerd, Minn., a race in which the order  was reversed and in which Billy Torrence wound up in thre winners’ circle.

In a short, 14-car field, the younger Torrence, a cancer and heart attack survivor, will start his day against against the slowest driver in the field, Steve Faria of Tulare, Calif.  If Sunday’s racing follows the script, the Torrences would meet in the final round for the first time in history.

“To go out there as a family team and perform in the way we have is awesome,” Torrence said.  “We hit a couple of speed bumps in Q2 and Q3 but these Capco boys took the data that we got from those runs and turned it into something positive.

“That said, we still have to go out and make four good runs tomorrow.  There’s a lot of talent out there, a lot of guys out there that can step it up.  With that No. 1 on the wing (symbolic of his championship) we’re definitely going to have a target on our back but that’s fine.  That’s when you want to perform your best.”


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