Drives Capco Contractors Dragster to Runner-Up Finish at Houston

October 25, 2020 -- In a battle between past and current world drag racing champions, Tony Schumacher denied Steve Torrence the event title he so badly wanted Sunday, holding on for a narrow .002 second victory in the final round of the 33rd annual Mopar Express Lane SpringNationals at Houston Raceway Park.

Torrence got the starting line advantage and drove his Capco Contractors dragster through the 1,000-foot course in 3.687 seconds, breaking the 3.70 barrier for the sixth time during the weekend.  It was exactly the performance crew chiefs Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr. expected.

What they didn’t expect was a 3.669, quick time of eliminations, from Schumacher, the eight-time former world champion who this year is running a limited schedule after sitting out all of last season.

The upshot is that while Torrence moves on this week to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a third straight championship clearly in sight, he remains winless at Houston, one of the two Texas tracks he calls home and one of only two tracks on the circuit at which he never has hoisted the winner’s trophy.  Sunday’s runner-up finish was his third in seven years at HRP; his second as the No. 1 qualifier.

When action begins Saturday in the season-ending Dodge Finals, the 37-year-old cancer survivor will lead veteran Doug Kalitta by 101 points in his bid to join Schumacher and Joe Amato as the only winners of three straight Top Fuel titles.

Since one-and-half-times as many points will awarded at Las Vegas as any other race this year, Kalitta still has a mathematical shot at denying the talented Texan another piece of history.  The maximum number of points available in the finale, including all bonuses, is 183.  The minimum number earned by a driver eliminated in the first round would be 46.

Until the final round of Sunday’s race, it seemed almost certain that Torrence would get his second wire-to-wire victory in as many weeks.  He got all of the qualifying bonus points while securing his 27th career No. 1 start and, during eliminations, was clocked in 3.674, 3.686 and 3.673 seconds to get his Capco hybrid into the final round for the 50th time in the last four seasons.

“That was a helluva drag race,” admitted a disappointed Torrence.  “To be honest, we did exactly what we wanted.  In hindsight, I don’t think we’d change anything.  They took a shot and made it work.  That’s why they won all those championships.  

“The bottom line is we know we’re taking a great car to Vegas.  I can’t wait to get started.  I wish we were racing tomorrow.”   

The win was just Schumacher’s second in eight final round meetings with Torrence, who earned his first NHRA tour victory by beating Schumacher in the final round of the 2012 NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta.

On the way to Sunday’s final, Schumacher took out Billy Torrence, driver of the second Capco Contractors dragster, in the semifinals but not before the founder and CEO of the Texas-based oil and gas pipeline construction and maintenance  ccompany dispatched Leah Pruett and moved into third place in points.

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