Torrence Tries to Regain Form at Cat Spot Nationals

July 31, 2019 -- Briefly stripped of his aura of invincibility, reigning Mello Yello champion Steve Torrence aims to reclaim it this week when he sends his Capco Contractors dragster after the Top Fuel championship at the 31st annual Cat Spot NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceway.

After winning eight times, forging a lead of more than 500 points and becoming the first driver to clinch a berth in the NHRA playoffs, Torrence saw his streak of consecutive final round appearances come to an end last week at Sonoma Raceway when he dropped a narrow semifinal decision not to Clay Millican or Antron Brown or Doug Kalitta or any of the other usual suspects, but to his dad, Billy.

The elder Torrence, who will miss this week’s race because of the demands of business, went on to win the race, keeping alive his hopes of joining his son as one of the 10 drivers eligible to compete for the championship in the six-race Countdown.

“That was a helluva drag race,” the younger Torrence said of a showdown decided by .041 of second that delivered his dad’s first win in seven head-to-head meetings.  “I got a little at the start, but he was right with me and he just had a little more car at the finish. 

“We’re both really competitive,” acknowledged the 35-time tour winner and only driver ever to sweep the Countdown.  “He wants to beat me; I want to beat him but, at the end of the day, we’re both blessed just to be able to race as family and compete at the very top level of this sport.”

In addition to halting his son’s streak of final round appearances at nine straight, Billy Torrence also ended the 36-year-old’s bid to become just the eighth driver to sweep the Western Swing, the arduous three races-in-three weeks stretch that for the last 20 years has separated the championship contenders from the pretenders.

“That stung a little bit,” Torrence said, “but the deal is, I won one race in the ‘Swing (Denver), he won one (Sonoma) and if we win here at Seattle, it’s still a sweep for the family.”

Torrence has won all three races in the ‘Swing, just not in the same season.  In fact, it’s been six years since he last won at Seattle, a drought he hopes to end this week in the absence of his father.


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