Four-Time Reigning Top Fuel Champ Pursuing First Win of 2022 Campaign

April 28, 2022 -- Team Capco’s “concrete cowboys,” winners of 13 of the last 16 events contested on all-concrete racetracks, go back to work this week hoping to extend their mastery of the surface by sending Steve Torrence to the winners’ circle for the fifth straight time in the original Circle K 4Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

Torrence, the four-time reigning Camping World Top Fuel champion, will try to win his seventh overall four-wide title and, in the process, close the gap between himself and current point leader Brittany Force, to whom he was runner-up in last month’s Las Vegas four-wide.

 The 39-year-old Texan and his Capco Contractors dragster have dominated at zMAX the last six years like few ever have at one venue, winning six of the last eight races on the Charlotte concrete.

Although he is poised this year to become just the fourth driver in NHRA history to win as many as five straight pro titles (joining John Force, Tony Schumacher and Bob Glidden), Torrence knows it will be a struggle, whether the surface is all concrete or a concrete-and-asphalt combination. 

“If you look at it, we’ve done pretty good on the tracks that aren’t concrete, too,” said the 51-time tour winner.  “We don’t do anything different on concrete.  Hoagie (crew chief Richard Hogan) and Bobby (Lagana Jr.) just have a knack for taking whatever the track will give us.  They’re absolutely the best at that.”

As for his latest championship bid, Torrence acknowledged that the price of poker has gone up with the return of Tony Schumacher, the emergence of Mike Salinas and Justin Ashley as title threats and the impressive performance of Force’s team, led by crew chief Dave Grubnic.

“It’s definitely more competitive than it’s ever been in Top Fuel,” Torrence said, “but that’s what makes it fun.  It’s all about the competition.  The longer you’re on top, the harder it is to stay there and that’s our challenge this year – to stay on top.”

Although he is winless through the season’s first five races, the talented Texan has remained at or near the top of the driver standings with a typically consistent performance that includes trips to the semifinals or beyond in four of five races.

“We’ve been competitive every race,” he said, “and we’re getting close (to achieving a comfort level with a new setup).  We qualified No. 1 last week at Houston and were low ET the first two rounds.  Now we just have to put all the pieces together on four straight runs.”

One indication of just how dominant Team Capco has been the past several seasons is that only once in the last five years has Torrence gone as many as six races without a win – and that was in 2018, the year he won his first championship by sweeping the NHRA’s six Countdown races.

“Yean, that’s crazy,” he said, “but it’s all about the Capco boys.  Every time I go to the line, I know I have a car that can win.  That gives you a lot of confidence as a driver.  I just try not to mess it up.”

4Wide qualifying will include nitro sessions at 3:15 and 6:45 p.m., Texas time, on Friday and 12:15 and 3:45 p.m, Texas time, Saturday.  Eliminations begin at 11 a.m., Texas time Sunday.  FS1 will handle race coverage with qualifying highlights from 6-7:30 p.m. Friday and 5-6:30 a.m. Sunday and eliminations from 6-9 Sunday night.  All of those are Texas times as well.

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