Champ Eyes Third Straight Regular Season Title

July 3, 2019 -- Having forged a record 404-point lead over nearest rival Doug Kalitta, one might be inclined to think that Steve Torrence will lack motivation this week when he sends his Capco Contractors dragster after the Top Fuel championship in the seventh annual NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.

After all, there’s no particular benefit to further increasing a lead that will be reduced to just 20 points when the NHRA makes its pre-Countdown adjustment following the Labor Day Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind.

Nevertheless, it is unlikely that the reigning Mello Yello Champion and most recent New England Nationals winner will put his team in “test mode” for the final six races of the regular season.  That simply is not his style.

“I know what some people are saying,” acknowledged the 33-time tour winner, “but the truth is, we go out there to win every race.   We’ve won six times this year, we’ve got six more races before they adjust the points and we want to win all six. 

“We’re just a family-owned race team out here to have fun and for all of us, Richard (crew chief Richard Hogan), Bobby (car chief Bobby Lagana Jr.) and all the rest of these Capco boys, there’s nothing more fun than winning.”

In fact, Torrence has won 12 of the last 18 tour events, six of the last seven, a performance that has propelled him to within one victory of tying Cory McClenathan for No. 8 on the all-time NHRA Top Fuel winners’ list. 

The 36-year-old cancer survivor also is on the verge of becoming the first driver in the Countdown Era, regardless of category, to win the regular season championship three consecutive years. 

“That would be awesome,” he said.  “It would be just one more thing this group has been able to accomplish.  It’s a heckuva legacy and I’m just very blessed and proud to be part of it.”

But for a parts failure last month at Bristol, Tenn., Torrence likely would be racing this week for his eighth straight tour victory instead of racing “just” to reach the final round for a personal record eighth consecutive time.

“That’s racing,” Torrence said of the broken crankshaft that allowed Mike Salinas to slip by him for the win.  “You can’t take anything for granted.”

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