Remains Top Fuel Point Leader Despite Final Round Disappointment at Bristol

October 17, 2021 -- Steve Torrence couldn’t capitalize on a track record-setting qualifying performance, but the three-time reigning Top Fuel World Champion still managed to leave Bristol Dragway with the point lead Sunday after a runner-up finish in the 20th NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

For the second straight week, Torrence was denied a milestone 50th Top Fuel victory, this time by California businessman Mike Salinas, who got a virtually free ride to his third career triumph when Torrence’s usually flawless Capco Contractors dragster overpowered the track before crossing the finish line at a pedestrian 81 miles per hour.

Despite that result, when qualifying begins Oct. 29th in the 21st annual Dodge SRT Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Torrence will lead second place Brittany Force by 73 points, third place Justin Ashley by 147 and Salinas by 150 in his quest to become just the seventh driver in NHRA pro drag racing history to win as many as four series championships.

“Mike has really stepped up his game this year,” Torrence said the man who ruined his otherwise perfect weekend.  “I’m proud of him.  I’m happy for him and for Alexis (DeJoria, whose Sunday Funny Car win was her first since 2017).  They’re both great people and those are both independent teams.

“It’s tough out there,” he said.  “These Capco boys are the best in the business, but it’s not easy to win these races.  You got Mike, Clay Millican, Brittany, Justin Ashley, Josh Hart, Antron (Brown), Leah (Pruett), Shawn Langdon and Doug Kalitta all out there every week trying to hurt your feelings.  And sometimes they do.

“Fortunately, we went rounds again today,” he said.  “Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana, they worked their magic and got us to another final round, so we’ll just move on to Vegas and get ready for another street fight.  This thing’s going right to the end (and the season-ending Auto Club Finals at Pomona, Calif.).”

Torrence began the day with an easy win over Cameron Ferre and followed with a solid 3.680 second, 333 mph effort on a bye run that set up a semifinal showdown with second year pro Ashley, who beat him last week in the final round at Dallas.  This time, though, it was all-Capco, starting with a .049 of a second starting line advantage.


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