Mello Yello Champ Gets First Win of the Season on Dad’s 61st Birthday

April 28, 2019 -- To celebrate his dad’s 61st birthday, reigning world champion Steve Torrence drove his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster to the quickest time in every round of racing Sunday to win the NGK Spark Plugs 4Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway for the third straight year.

The 36-year-old Texan outpaced Clay Millican, Terry McMillen and Leah Pritchett in the final quad with a time of 3.778 seconds and a finish line speed of 323.19 miles per hour.  He won his opening race with a Sunday best of 3.743 seconds and his second with a time of 3.777 seconds.

In winning for the first time since sweeping last fall’s six-race Countdown to the Championship, Torrence surged past Doug Kalitta and back into the Top Fuel point lead six races into the 2019 campaign.  He will move on to Atlanta, Ga., for this week’s 39th Arby’s NHRA Southern Nationals leading Kalitta by 34 points and Millican by 64.

Billy Torrence, the Capco founder and CEO who is considered the tour’s best part-time racer, missed the Charlotte race because of business responsibilities but still managed to hang on to the No. 10 position in Mello Yello points.  The top ten drivers at the conclusion of the 18-race regular season advance to the playoffs.

“To win on my dad’s birthday, how cool is that?” Torrence asked.  “The only thing better would have been if we were racing each other.  That’s still on the bucket list, racing my dad in a final round, but right now I’m just glad to be hoisting another one of these little gold statues.

“We’ve had a good car all year, but there are a lot of good cars out here.  This stuff ain’t easy,” said the 28-time pro tour winner.  “Today, we finally got everything right.  These Capco Boys are awesome.  The car was flawless, (Richard) Hogan and Bobby (Lagana Jr.) made all the right calls and the driver showed up, too.

“I think maybe I had been driving a little too defensively so I had a little talk to myself this morning, quit thinking about it and went on the offensive,” said the only driver to have won NHRA championships in both the Fuel and Alcohol divisions.  

“I don’t drive my best when I am relaxed and comfortable,” he continued.  “I have to race with a little chip on my shoulder and sometimes that’s misinterpreted by a lot of people.  I’m not necessarily mad at anyone, I’m just trying to get myself in race mode.”

Overall, it was Torrence’s fourth win in four-wide racing (he won the inaugural Denso Four-Wide at Las Vegas in 2018) and it kept him tied for the most ever victories with Andrew Hines, who won Sunday in Pro Stock Motorcycle.  The two also share the lead in individual quad victories with 13 each.

Although he initially was an outspoken critic of the four-wide format, he admitted Sunday that success has a way of changing things.

“I like this place,” he said of zMAX, a track on which he has won four races in the last three years.  “I like racing here.  We could run all of them here and I wouldn’t be upset.  All of the Bruton Smith tracks are great but this one is special for us.”

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