Three-time Reigning Series Champ Beats Clay Millican in Lucas Oil Nationals Final

August 22, 2021 -- Steve Torrence scratched one more item off his competitive bucket list Sunday when he drove his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster to victory for the first time in the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

A narrow final round victory over six-time former IHRA world champ Clay Millican lifted the 38-year-old Texan to his seventh win in 12 races this season and gave him at least one win at every venue on the NHRA’s Camping World pro tour. 

Before Sunday, Torrence had not so much as reached the final round at the Lucas Oil Nationals although his dad and Capco teammate, Billy Torrence, won the race in 2018 to secure the first Top Fuel win of his long career in NHRA pro and sportsman racing.

After an uncharacteristically slow reaction time in the second round that almost sent him home way too early, Torrence was back on form in the final with a .053 of a second reaction time and a 3.712 second elapsed time that got him to the finish .016 ahead of Millican, who had beaten No. 1 qualifier Brittany Force in the semifinals.

In further distancing himself from the field in the NHRA regular season, which concludes Labor Day weekend with the 67th running of the Dodge SRT U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind., Torrence moved a step closer to becoming just the fifth driver in Top Fuel history to win as many as 50 tour events.

He has won 47 times in Top Fuel since founding Torrence Racing in 2012.  All but five of those victories have come in the last six seasons and all but one was orchestrated by veteran tuner and crew chief Richard Hogan.  Prior to his Top Fuel success, Torrence won the 2005 Lucas Oil Series Top Alcohol Dragster world championship and remains the only driver ever to have won NHRA world titles in both the Top Fuel and Top Alcohol divisions.

Although he will lead second place Brittany Force by a whopping 383 points entering the U.S. Nationals, roughly the equivalent of 19 racing rounds, Torrence knows he will start the seven-race Countdown to the Championship with only a 20-point advantage, the result of NHRA’s arbitrary adjustment of the points at the end of the regular season.

“It is what it is,” Torrence said.  “(The adjustment) gives more teams a shot at the championship, I guess, and that’s what they’re going for.  We can’t change that.  All we can do is go out and do our job.  If you win the races, the points will take care of themselves.”

Winner of more than 40 percent of the races he’s run since April of 2017 (39 of 89), Torrence came dangerously close to leaving Brainerd in disappointment yet again when he gave up a big starting line advantage to Ashley in that second round.

“I did everything possible to screw it up,” he admitted of his .132 of a second reaction time, “but those Capco boys bailed me out again.  Those things happen and when they do you just have to put them behind you and get back in the game.  We got lucky, but we’ll take it and learn from it.”


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