World Champ One Win Away from Sweeping the Western Swing

July 25, 2021 -- Steve Torrence moved a step closer to becoming just the sixth driver in Top Fuel history to sweep the three races in the Western Swing Sunday when he drove his Capco Contractors dragster past the similar machine of Leah Pruett to win the 33rd running of the Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway.

It was the 38-year-old cancer survivor’s sixth victory in nine races this season and it all but assured that he will win the NHRA’s regular season Top Fuel championship for a record fifth straight season.

When qualifying begins Friday in the 61st annual Lucas Oil Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, an event long postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, he will lead close friend Antron Brown, whom he defeated in Sunday’s semifinals, by a whopping 349 points with just four races remaining before the points are adjusted for the playoffs.

Racing in Sunday’s final round without the benefit of lane choice, Torrence thought he had frittered away his hopes of joining the company of Joe Amato, Larry Dixon, Cory McClenathan, Brown and Tony Schumacher when he had an uncharacteristically poor start against Pruett, who had taken out No. 1 qualifier Brittany Force in round two and whose car was quickest in the previous round.

His .115 reaction time was well off his final round average of .062 and, in fact, was his second poorest start in 69 final round appearances as a Top Fuel driver.  However, it still was good enough to get him to the finish line .002 of a second ahead of Pruett who, to his good fortune, wasn’t much better at .106 of a second.

“It was a tough weekend,” acknowledged the only driver ever to have swept the races in the Countdown (2018).  “We struggled in qualifying and then I tried to give it away in the final, but these Capco Boys gave me just enough to pull it out at the finish line.  I just made a mistake, I almost red-lighted, but the bottom line is we’re going to Pomona with a chance to complete the sweep.”

It was the 46th Top Fuel win for the talented Texan, a former Top Alcohol Dragster world champion (2005) who has dominated the Camping World Top Fuel tour the last five seasons, winning 41 of the last 87 races.  Sunday’s win, his second at Sonoma, ran his one-on-one racing record for the current campaign to 28-3.


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