World Champ Falls in First Round of Long-Delayed Lucas Winternationals

August 1, 2021 -- Every Superman has his Kryptonite and for Steve Torrence, the three-time reigning Top Fuel World Champion, it takes the form of close friend and former series champion Antron Brown.

After three consecutive tour victories, two in the last two weeks, Torrence’s bid to sweep the Western Swing portion of the NHRA Camping World pro tour came to an abrupt end when Brown bounced him and his all-conquering Capco Contractors dragster in the very first round of the long-delayed 61st annual Lucas Oil Winternationals at Auto Club Racing.

It was the first opening round loss of the season for the 46-time tour winner and his first since losing to his dad Billy at the Lucas Oil Summernationals at Indianapolis on July 19, 2020.

Although Torrence was the higher qualifier, beating Brown never has been easy for the 38-year-old Texan.  Consider that against everyone else on tour he is 362-175 but, against Brown, he is only 17-33.  In plain terms, Torrence wins almost 68 percent of the time against everyone but Brown. 

Not that the upset loss will have a measurable impact on the cancer survivor’s bid to win his fifth straight regular season championship.  When qualifying begins Aug. 13 in the 32nd Menard’s Nationals at Topeka, Kan., he still will have a 313-point cushion between himself, Brown and the rest of the Top Fuel field.

“We just got a little behind in qualifying,” Torrence said.  “We didn’t get down the track on the first two (qualifying) runs and then we had to be a little conservative just to move up in the field and get lane choice.  But give all the credit to Antron and his guys.  They figured it out and made a good solid run.”

Failing once again to complete a sweep of the three races that comprise the mid-summer Swing was disappointing for the 46-time tour winner, but not debilitating.

After all, he already has completed a sweep that likely never will be duplicated in Top Fuel or any other class.  En route to the first of his three championships, Torrence swept the six races comprising the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship in 2018.

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