Three-Time Reigning Champ Aims for Third Win in Four Years at Motorplex

October 4, 2021 -- Early on, one of the biggest frustrations of three-time world champion Steve Torrence’s pro career was his inability to win much of anything on the Texas track he calls home. 

While the Kilgore native was winning NHRA pro tour events at places like Englishtown, N.J., Seattle, Wash., and Bristol, Tenn., his record in his first seven Top Fuel appearances at the Texas Motorplex, site this week of the 36th annual Texas Fall Nationals, was a less-than stellar 2-7.

However, to the dismay of long-suffering rivals, that was “then.”  The 38-year-old cancer survivor’s “now” has been considerably more productive and is one of the primary reasons he is in position to become just the seventh driver in NHRA pro drag racing history to win four consecutive series championships.

In his last six starts on the all-concrete surface at the Motorplex, he has reached the final round four times, won twice and rung up a 16-4 match play record. 

Moreover, in the one recent start in which he proved he still was human by bowing out in the first round (2019), dad Billy Torrence made sure a Capco Contractors dragster still made its way into the winners’ circle. 

Last year, Team Capco got its third straight Fall Nationals victory in historic fashion when Steve beat Billy in an all-Torrence final round, 3.716 seconds at 328.78 miles per hour to 3.810 seconds at 323.43 mph.

Nevertheless, despite all that success, Torrence admits that racing at home isn’t all kittens and puppy dogs.

“We love being able to race in front of family and friends at the Motorplex,” Torrence said, “and we’ve been blessed to have had a lot of success.  But this championship battle isn’t over.  We’ve got the points lead, but there’s still a lot of racing to do.  Our goal is to stay consistent and keep our focus and that’s always tougher when you’re racing at home.”

Torrence acknowledged that there are so many more demands on his time when he’s racing in Texas.

“Everybody wants you to know they’re pulling for you,” he said.  “They all want to shake your hand and give you some words of encouragement.  It’s a great problem to have, but it makes it harder to maintain focus.  We just have to go out and do what we’ve been doing.  It’s worked pretty good so far.”   

When qualifying begins on Friday, Torrence will lead Motorplex track record-holder Brittany Force by 36 points, roughly two rounds.  His dad is another 90 points back in third place, the same position in which he finished a year ago when the championship was decided conventionally – without a Countdown.

Although he is just one win away from joining another exclusive fraternity (one reserved for those pro drivers who have won 50 times on the national tour), Torrence said that singular achievement is not even part of the conversation this week.

“We’re just trying to win the Fall Nationals,” he said.  “These Capco Boys are the best in the business and if I win one or 50 or 100 races, it’s not because of anything I’ve done.  I just drive the best race car out there.  That’s it.  To me, 49 wins means that’s 49 times I didn’t screw up, because a lot of times I do.” 

Not a lot of times lately, though.

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