Despite 1-2 Start, Neither Capco Driver Survives to Semis

March 14, 2021 -- A 10-degree temperature change from first round to second transformed the promise of qualifying into race day disappointment for three-time reigning NHRA World Champion Steve Torrence and the Capco Contractors race team whose members were watching from the sidelines Sunday after both of their cars were out after only two rounds at the 52nd annual Amalie NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.

After qualifying 1-2 for the fourth time in their Top Fuel careers, both the younger Torrence and his father Billy were victimized by a loss of traction on a track surface considerably warmer than it was in an opening round in which both were dominant.

As a result, there wasn’t a red-and-black Capco Contractors hybrid in the Top Fuel semifinals for the first time since 2019 at St. Louis.

It was a frustrating turn for a team that had won 30 of the previous 59 NHRA tour events, especially after Steve was quickest in two of the three qualifying sessions and Billy was quickest in the other.  Furthermore, there was no hint of what was to come after Steve posted quick time of eliminations in a win over rookie Joe Morrison.

In the second round, though, the magic evaporated as Billy was bested by three-time former World Champion Antron Brown while Steve-O lost to Florida native Josh Hart who, in his very first professional start, left the race with the trophy.

As a result, the drivers who finished first and third in last year’s point standings find themselves fifth and sixth after the first event of the new season, one in which Steve is trying to become just the second driver in Top Fuel history (after Tony Schumacher) to win four consecutive championships.

Unfortunately, the reigning champ’s bid to win a race in March, the only month in which he has been shut out since beginning his Top Fuel career, will have to wait another year.  Although he ended 10 years of Gatornationals frustration with an overpowering victory a year ago, because of the COVID-19 pandemic that win came in a race postponed from the spring to the fall.

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