Reigning Champion Wins Eighth Race in Ninth Straight Final Round Appearance

July 20, 2019 -- Intense heat and thin air proved no deterrent to a rampaging Steve Torrence who will start his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster from the No. 1 qualifying position Sunday in his bid for an eighth win in the last nine events in the NHRA Mello Yello drag racing series.

The 36-year-old point leader and reigning series champion withstood 100-degree air temperatures at 5,800 foot Bandimere Speedway and, with the expertise of crew chiefs Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr., sped down the 1,000 foot course in 3.738 seconds Saturday after setting a track speed record Friday at 330.31 miles per hour.

In qualifying at the top for the 22nd time since founding his own team in 2012, Torrence earned a bye in Sunday’s first round.  It was his third No. 1 in his last seven appearances in the Dodge Mile-High Nationals, contested this week for the 40th time.

Ironically, the talented Texas has won only four races from No. 1.  The bulk of his 34 tour victories (10) have come from the No. 2 starting spot.  This year, though, he’s won from No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, No. 5, No. 6 and No. 9 starts.

A finalist in each of the last eight races and a winner of 13 of the last 19 races in the series, Torrence needs one more tour victory to tie “Big Daddy” Don Garlits for No. 8 in all-time NHRA victories with 35.

The only driver to have won series titles in both the Top Alcohol (2005) and Top Fuel divisions, Torrence last year became the first driver, regardless of category, to sweep the six races in the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship.

With his win two weeks ago at Epping, N.H., the cancer and heart attack survivor tied Tony Schumacher’s record for most wins in a three-year period with 26.  Over the last four campaigns, he has 29 race wins.  Second most during that span is 12 by three-time world champ Antron Brown.

Torrence starts Sunday 497 points ahead of second place Doug Kalitta after picking up all but one of the maximum 12 qualifying bonus points awarded in Top Fuel. Unfortunately for the champion, that margin will be reduced to just 20 when the NHRA adjusts the standings ahead of the playoffs.  With just five races remaining before the start of the Countdown, Torrence virtually is assured of winning the regular season championship for a record third straight time.


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