Four-Time NHRA Top Fuel Champ Back in Virginia After Two-Year Absence

May 11, 2022 -- For Steve Torrence, the four-time reigning NHRA Top Fuel World Champion, Virginia Motorsports Park, site of this week’s NHRA Virginia Nationals, must look like an oasis in the desert. 

Winless through six Camping World tour events for the first time since 2019 and for just the third time in the last six seasons, the 39-year-old Texan will roll to the line for the start of qualifying on Friday secure in the knowledge that he hasn’t lost a round of racing at VMP since Oct. 15, 2006.

Moreover, when he did lose, he did so at the hands of three-time former world champ Larry Dixon.

Of course, that resume loses a bit of its luster when one considers that he didn’t compete in 2007, 2008 or 2009, that the race wasn’t contested the last two seasons because of the COVID-19 pandemic and that it was off the NHRA schedule entirely from 2010-2017.

Still, since putting together his own team in 2012, the 51-time tour winner hasn’t lost a single round of racing at VMP, a fact that automatically gives him an edge, especially when one considers that the crew on his Capco Contractors Top Fuel Toyota, a unit led by Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr., is virtually the same one that sent him to the winners’ circle in back-to-back seasons.

“We’ve definitely had success,” Torrence said of his history at VMP, “but we’ve had success everywhere at one time or another.  We’re just going through some stuff right now with a new setup and we’re not quite on top of it.  But I wouldn’t go and start counting these Capco Boys out.  There’s a lot of racing before we even get to the Countdown.

“There’s no real advantage (derived from the earlier wins),” Torrence said.  “That was three and four years ago.  I’m sure the track changed in that time and so have the cars.  It’ll probably be kind of a crapshoot on Friday.”

The only pro driver ever to have swept the races in the Countdown (2018), Torrence this year is trying to become just the fourth driver in NHRA pro drag racing history (after Bob Glidden, John Force and Tony Schumacher) to win as many as five consecutive series titles.

In addition to the understandable level of comfort he feels at Richmond, Torrence will get another big boost with the competitive return of his dad, Billy, to the cockpit of the second Capco Contractors Top Fuel Toyota.

The elder Torrence, an eight-time Top Fuel winner who finished fifth in the driver standings each of the last two seasons, has raced in only a third of the events contested so far this year.  In his only Richmond start (2019), he lost an all-Capco semifinal to his son who then beat Antron Brown for the trophy.

Qualifying begins with a single nitro session at 7:10 p.m., Texas time, Friday followed by sessions at 12:30 and 4:30 p.m., Texas time, Saturday.  Sunday eliminations begin at 11 a.m., Texas time.  Texas times for Fox Sports television coverage are 9:30-11 p.m. Saturday, 11:30-1 p.m. and 5:30-8:30 p.m. Sunday.

Billy Torrence Won’t Race with Son Steve at NHRA Virginia Nationals

A day before the start of qualifying for the NHRA Virginia Nationals, Torrence Racing announced Thursday that it would not field a second Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster this weekend at Virginia Motorsports Park as it originally had planned.

Citing the lack of sufficient racing resources to support a two-car effort, the team scratched the 11,000-horsepower hybrid that was to have been driven by Capco founder and CEO Billy Torrence, father of four-time reigning series champion and two-time Richmond winner Steve Torrence.

Despite a resume that includes eight victories and a trio of top five finishes in the Top Fuel driver standings, the elder Torrence never has raced full-time at the professional level. 

In fact, the demands of running an international oil and gas pipeline construction business coupled with the unique logistical challenges of assembling the parts, pieces and personnel needed to race at an elite level on a part-time basis have limited his participation this season to just two events – the Gatornationals at Gainesville, Fla., and the Spring Nationals at Houston.

He remains one round win shy of 100 in a Top Fuel career in which he has made 75 starts, never failing to qualify.  It is uncertain when he next will compete in either Top Fuel or Super Comp, a category in which he also has won at the national event level.

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