CAPCO Driver Leads Top Fuel Field into Atlanta

May 2, 2019 -- Life may be good for world drag racing champion Steve Torrence, but don’t expect smiles from the talented Texan when he rolls his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster to the starting line for this week’s 39th annual Arby’s NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.

It’s nothing personal.  The most dominant driver over the past three seasons and the current Mello Yello point leader simply has come to the realization that he’s a better driver when he’s able to use “anger management,” as he did last week in winning the NGK 4Wide Nationals at Charlotte, N.C.

“I don’t think I drive my best when I’m relaxed and comfortable,” said the cancer survivor and former Top Alcohol Dragster world champ (2005).  “I have to race with a little chip on my shoulder and sometimes that’s misinterpreted.  I’m really not mad at anyone, I’m just trying to get myself in race mode. 

“I think maybe I was driving a little too defensively (while failing to win in the first  five races of the current  campaign,),” said the man who has won 20 of the last 49 NHRA tour events, “so I had to have a little talk with myself to get my mind right.”

The result was his third straight four-wide victory at Charlotte and his fourth overall.  Now, he gets back to more traditional racing on a track on which he won just two years ago.

“It’s always great to come back to a place where you’ve won before,” said the man who last year swept the six races comprising the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship.  “And Atlanta will always be extra special because it’s where I won my first race in Top Fuel (2012).”

Over the last three seasons, Torrence totally has changed the professional racing dynamic with the help of a team of self-proclaimed outlaws and misfits led by crew chiefs Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr. 

In building his team, he completely ignored conventional wisdom which suggested that success was reserved for those who controlled the design and manufacture of every key component.  Torrence doesn’t even own his own shop.

Instead, he leases space in Brownsburg, Ind., from John Force Racing, buys chassis built by Morgan Lucas Racing and has purchased engine and driveline components from both Don Schumacher Motorsports and Alan Johnson Enterprises.  He’s won 28 races and a championship with nothing but “off the shelf” parts.

Nevertheless, the 36-year-old understands that he’s not everyone’s cup of tea – and he’s fine with that.

 “I have a ton of fans that support us and I’m thankful and grateful for each and every one of them,” he said, “(but) I know there are people who don’t like me.  They don’t really know me, but they see something about me on TV and they react to that.

“That’s fine, but one thing I think this sport needs is more personalities, people who are genuine and real and, hopefully, that’s what you get when you come over here,” he said.  “We’re not corporate America.  We’re just drag racers.  We’re out here to win.  We race with passion and we wear our hearts on our sleeves.”

It’s a formula he hopes to ride to another victory this weekend and, ultimately, another championship.

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