Despite Semifinal Exit, Steve Torrence Remains Atop Point Standings

September 19, 2021 -- In what arguably was the most important individual race of the 2021 season, three-time reigning World Champion Steve Torrence got the win light but didn’t get the win Sunday in a semifinal showdown with Brittany Force at the 13th DeWalt Tools Carolina Nationals at ZMax Dragway.

The confusing result ended the Texan’s bid for a sixth straight win on Bruton Smith’s all-concrete track and put the 38-year-old cancer survivor’s latest title bid in some jeopardy as the Camping World tour moves this week to Madison, Ill., across the river from St. Louis, for the 24th NHRA Midwest Nationals.

Force already had moved ahead of Torrence in the Top Fuel driver standings on the strength of a qualifying performance in which she earned the maximum 17 points while the Capco Contractors driver was failing for the first time this year to earn a single qualifying bonus point.

Nevertheless, Torrence was in position to regain the advantage when he rolled to the starting for a semifinal showdown with the woman who beat him for the championship in 2017.  Initially, it appeared that he had done just that when the win light was illuminated in his lane in a very close race.  However, that proved to be an aberration.  FOX TV coverage showed that Force reached the finish line first and that result was corroborated by the math.

Torrence grabbed a starting line advantage with a .071 reaction time to Force’s .097.  On the track, Torrence stopped the timers in 3.751 seconds while Force ran a quicker 3.721.  The difference at the finish was .004 of a second in Force’s favor.

Lost in the aftermath of all that confusion was rookie Josh Hart’s performance in upsetting Force in the final round and winning for the second time this year. As a result, Torrence will start Friday’s qualifying at World Wide Technology Raceway trailing Force by 21 points instead of the 41 he had anticipated after the semifinal result.

“There’s still a lot of racing to do before someone raises that trophy,” said the 48-time tour winner.  “Brittany’s got a great car but I wouldn’t trade for these Capco Boys.  We’re still in a good spot and nothing can stop us if we don’t stop ourselves.  We just have to stay consistent, stay focused.”

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