Regular Season Champ Won’t Change Focus or Routine at U.S. Nationals

August 30, 2021 -- Steve Torrence’s points lead is so big entering this week’s 67th annual Dodge SRT U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway that the three-time reigning series champ could take a seat in the Top Eliminator Club for the weekend, load up on funnel cakes and some of the other trackside delicacies, never once strap into the cockpit of his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster and still win the Camping World tour’s regular season championship by a train length.

Nevertheless, to the dismay of his long-suffering rivals, the 38-year-old Texan has no plans to alter his normal routine no matter the event nor the circumstances. 

“We try to win every race,” he said, “and it’s a strategy that seems to have worked out okay.  We don’t hold back anything for the playoffs.  Pretty much what you see every week is what you’re gonna get.  I’m very blessed to be racing at a very high level with my family and some of my best friends in a sport full of great people.

“We race for fun,” Torrence insisted.  “We have goals and when you can achieve those goals as a team, there’s nothing better than that.  it’s still fun out here.  We work hard but when the work’s over, we play pretty hard, too.”

Drag racing’s dominant driver the last five seasons, Torrence comes into the final race before the start of the Countdown leading Brittany Force by 383 points.  Even if Force or someone else collected every available point in an event that rewards drivers at one-and-a-half times the normal rate, the total would amount to only 202 points.

The upshot is that Torrence and Team Capco will be favored once again in a field that will include the champ’s dad, Billy, who returns to the cockpit of the second Capco dragster after sitting out four of the last five events (see related story below).

“This is Indy,” Torrence said, “and if you can’t get up for this rac+e, you’re probably in the wrong sport.  Winning here in 2017 with these guys was awesome.  For a drag racer, there’s no better feeling than winning Indy except, maybe, winning it again.”

That said, the former Top Alcohol Dragster world champ (2005) does have an additional incentive or two.  For one thing, he’s chasing 50 pro tour victories, gobbling up his 47th title two weeks ago at Brainerd, Minn., the only venue in the series at which he had not previously celebrated at least one win.

Moreover, he wants to carry momentum into the Countdown as he tries to become just the seventh driver to win four consecutive pro titles (after Don Prudhomme, Bob Glidden, Lee Shepherd, Kenny Bernstein, John Force and Tony Schumacher).

Winner of seven of the 12 races contested thus far in the current campaign, Torrence has been typically consistent in a car prepared by Richard Hogan, Bobby Lagana Jr. and the most efficient crew in the sport.  He has not started a race from further back than the No. 4 spot and he is the only driver to have earned at least one qualifying bonus point in advance of every race.

Indy qualifying will consist of one run at 6:30 p.m., Texas time, Friday followed by sessions at 1 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. Saturday.  Sunday eliminations will begin at 9 a.m., Texas time, with television coverage on FOX broadcast network from 12 noon until 3 p.m., Texas time.

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