World Champ Adopts ‘Hulk’ Personna in Pursuit of Fourth Straight Title

October 13, 2021 -- The insertion of the Thunder Valley Nationals into this year’s NHRA Countdown, expanding the NHRA playoffs from six races to seven, may prove troublesome for reigning Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence as he pursues his fourth straight Camping World title at the wheel of his Capco Contractors dragster.

That’s because while the 38-year-old cancer survivor has won 41 tour events over the last five seasons and celebrated at least one victory at every host track in the series, it’s been eight long years since he was a perfect 4-and-0 at Bristol Dragway.

For the 49-time tour winner, that must seem like an eternity considering the fact that, since that lone victory, he’s won races on 20 other tracks, most recently hoisting the trophy Sept. 26th at World Wide Technology Raceway in St. Louis.

Nevertheless, the only driver in NHRA history to win championships in both the Top Alcohol and Top Fuel divisions has a secret weapon at his disposal this week that has helped set him apart from his peers.  It’s a superpower, of sorts, for which he credits retired former Top Fuel rival and eight-time series champion Tony Schumacher.

“Tony told me that when I get in this car to do my job, I have to convince myself that I am bulletproof and the baddest man there ever was,” Torrence said.   “You’ve gotta convince yourself, he said, because if me and you don’t believe we’re the baddest ones out there, ain’t nobody else gonna believe it.

“I’m five foot seven,” Torrence said.  “I’m not a big guy.  But when I put that helmet on and the adrenaline starts to flow, I turn green, my clothes rip off and I think I’m ‘The Hulk.’  That’s what you have to do because whoever’s in the other lane is trying to take away what you’ve worked so hard for.”

Not that the Texan has exactly struggled at the Tennessee track.  After all, he went to the finals in 2019, the last time the race was contested, but compared to what he has done elsewhere, his 13-8 record at Thunder Valley is pretty mundane. 

Coming off a runner-up finish in last week’s Texas Fall Nationals on the all-concrete Texas Motorplex track he calls home, Torrence will roll his hot rod to the line for Friday’s qualifying session leading second place Brittany Force by 52 points and fast-closing 2020 rookie-of-the-year Justin Ashley by 121.

“Nothing different,” Torrence said of his team’s strategy.  “I trust these Capco boys to give me a car that can win and they trust me to get it to the other end first.  They don’t want to disappoint me; I don’t want to disappoint them.  It’s a great partnership.”


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