Four-Time Reigning Top Fuel Champ Moves to Third in Points

May 15, 2022 -- Steve Torrence dodged a bullet in the second round of Sunday’s NHRA Virginia Nationals, but the four-time reigning Top Fuel World Champion once more was denied a trip to the winners’ circle when he dropped a narrow final round decision to Brittany Force at a Virginia Motorsports Park track on which he was seeking his third straight victory.

The No. 1 qualifier and new track record holder, Force won in 3.770 seconds at 334.07 miles per hour.  Torrence was just a tick behind at 3.781 seconds.

It was a disappointing result for the 39-year-old Texan who is winless in seven consecutive races this year for the first time since 2017.

Nevertheless, in taking his Capco Contractors dragster to the semifinals or beyond for the fifth time in seven Camping World tour events, he moved up to third place in the driver standings, just two points behind second place Mike Salinas and 81 back of Force.

The No. 3 qualifier at 3.683 seconds, his best performance with a new setup implemented by crew chiefs Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr., the former Top Alcohol Dragster World Champ (2005) sped past Scott Palmer in a round one to set up a second-round showdown with arch-rival Tony Schumacher.

Torrence had an issue at the start that resulted in an uncharacteristically slow reaction time and halfway down the track the 11,000-horsepower hybrid lost fire in one cylinder and began to spin the tires.  Fortunately, Schumacher, the eight-time former World Champ, was experiencing many of the same problems in the other lane.

The result was a Torrence victory in 4.402 seconds that enabled him to take a 20-19 overall advantage over Schumacher in their Top Fuel rivalry.

He rebounded in the semifinals, using a 3.803 second time to get past Force’s teammate, Austin Prock, who earlier had posted the quickest time of eliminations at 3.727.  That set up a seventh final round showdown between Torrence and Force who, between them, have won the last five World Championships.  

The next event in the series is the June 3-5 New England Nationals at Epping, N.H., a race won by a Capco Contractors dragster the last three times it was contested.

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