Torrence Favored in Lucas Oil Winternationals Postponed from February

July 29, 2021 -- Steve Torrence and his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster have won before at Auto Club Raceway, site this week of the pandemic-delayed 61st annual Lucas Oil Winternationals, but never in the kind of heat expected on Sunday when the talented Texan will try to become just the eighth driver in pro drag racing history to sweep the three races in arduous Western Swing.

“Racing in Pomona in the middle of the summer is an entirely different ball game,” admitted the three-time reigning World Champion and runaway point leader.  “We’ve won here in February and November, when it’s a lot cooler, but this weekend it’ll probably be pretty slick and challenging.  We don’t have any data on this racetrack in the conditions we expect to see, so it should be pretty interesting.

“Sweeping the Swing is certainly on our minds,” Torrence said, “but it won’t change our normal race strategy. Friday night, our goal is to make a solid, clean and fast run to give us a good starting point.  It’s one run at a time, one race at a time.”

Riding a three-race winning streak that has powered him to a 349-point lead in the Camping World driver standings, the 38-year-old cancer survivor is just four round wins away from joining a “clean sweep club” whose current members are Joe Amato, Cory McClenathan, Larry Dixon, Antron Brown and Tony Schumacher in Top Fuel, John Force in Funny Car and Greg Anderson in Pro Stock.

If he gets the job done Sunday, though, Torrence will be the only driver to have swept the Swing in its current, one-off configuration with the delayed Winternationals replacing the COVID-canceled Flav-R-Pac Northwest Nationals at Seattle, Wash.

The sweep nothwithstanding, a Sunday victory also would make him just the third driver in the track’s 61-year history to win races in the winter, the summer and the fall.  Force and former Pro Stock champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. accomplished that feat when, after previously winning the Winternationals and season-ending Auto Club Finals, both prevailed in the NHRA’s one-time 50th Anniversary Nationals on July 8, 2001.

Despite all his success, Torrence is taking nothing for granted.

“It hasn’t been easy,” he said of a season in which he has won six of nine events. “Look, we won last week (at Sonoma, Calif.) by .002 of a second over Leah (Pruett).  It was almost that close against Brittany (Force) at Norwalk (Ohio) and Charlotte (.014 at the former and .026 at the 4Wide).  They’ll all figure it out, but as long as I’ve got Richard Hogan, Bobby Lagana (Jr.) and the Capco Boys behind me, we’re going to be contenders regardless of the conditions.

“The Capco Boys do the work and I’m just the guy who’s blessed with the opportunity to drive,” he said.  “My focus is to try and not mess it up.  These guys work hard and they love their jobs.  You learn a little bit each day and the thing that keeps us going is that we have so much fun when we come to the track.”

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