NHRA Champion Vies for Best Driver Award with Hamilton, Busch, Dixon

June 28, 2019 -- Back when Tony Schumacher was terrorizing Top Fuel drag racing in the mid-2000s, there were some who suggested that his was such a dominant performance that it never would be duplicated.

After all, from 2006 through 2009, the former driver for the U.S. Army hoisted the trophy after nearly every third start, riding 31 tour victories to four consecutive championships.

But that was then.  Ten years later, Steve Torrence is reminding everyone why we are told to “never say never.”

The reigning Mello Yello champion and runaway point leader at the wheel of the Capco Contractors dragster, Torrence is halfway through a season in which he is on pace to eclipse Schumacher’s records for Top Fuel performance over four consecutive seasons.

Remarkably, the 36-year-old Texan has won 28 races the last four years using a business model that likely would have been totally rejected during Schumacher’s years of total dominance.

Torrence is the face of a family-owned, family-financed race team comprised of self-described outlaws and, among them crew chiefs Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr.  Although Torrence lives in Kilgore, Texas, the team itself operates out of shop space rented from rival John Force in Brownsburg, Ind.

None of the parts and pieces used to put the Capco Contractors hybrid together are proprietary.  Instead, all of them are bought “off the shelf.”  That includes a chassis built by Morgan Lucas Racing and engine and driveline parts from Alan Johnson Engineering.

Nevertheless, there are a lot of intriguing similarities between Schumacher’s dominance and Torrence’s.  During his best four years, Schumacher won 21 more races than any other Top Fuel driver.  During his current run, Torrence has won 16 more races than anyone else. 

Schumacher won a Top Fuel record seven straight races and followed with a string of five straight.  Torrence won six straight tour events while sweeping last year’s Countdown and, but for a broken crankshaft in the final round at Bristol, Tenn., likely would be racing next week for his eighth straight “Wally” instead of just his second.

Last year, when he won 11 times, Torrence was perfect in final rounds, a performance that earned him a nomination for a “Best Driver” ESPY this year along with Lewis Hamilton from Formula 1, Scott Dixon from Indy Car racing and Kyle Busch from NASCAR.

Schumacher enjoyed the same recognition three times during the era in which he set the Top Fuel record for races won in a single season with 15 (2008).

Following is a look at the four-year totals of both drivers:

Tony Schumacher (2006-2009)

                            Races    Finals    Wins      No. 1     *Low ET             W-L       Standing
2006                    23          8            5            13          13                        41-18     CHAMPION
2007                    23          6            6            12          3                          32-17     CHAMPION
2008                    24          18          15          9            3                          76-9       CHAMPION
2009                    24          7            5            2            2                          47-19     CHAMPION

TOTALS             94          39          31          36          21                        196-63   (70.2%)
*Indicates quickest elapsed time during eliminations

Schumacher was 36 when he started his four-year run and 39 when it ended
Schumacher went to the final round every 2.41 races from 2006-2009
Schumacher won every 3.0 races from 2006-2009

Steve Torrence (2016-2019)

                            Races    Finals    Wins      No. 1     *Low ET             W-L       Standing
2016                    23          8            3            3            1                          39-20     3rd
2017                    24          11          8            3            0                          56-16     2nd
2018                    24          11          11          3            4                          58-13     CHAMPION
2019                    12          8            6            3            3                          33-6       Currently 1st

TOTALS             83          38          28          12          8                          186-55   (77.1%)
*Indicates quickest elapsed time during eliminations

Torrence was 33 when he finished third in 2016.  He now is 36.
Torrence has gone to the final round every 2.18 races from 2016 to the present
Torrence has won every 2.96 races from 2016 to the present

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