4-Time Reigning World Champ Has Dominated at Summit Motorsports Park

June 21, 2022 -- When you’ve grown accustomed to hoisting the Top Fuel trophy after every third start on the NHRA Camping World tour as has reigning World Champion Steve Torrence, adjusting to life outside the winners’ circle can be a little disconcerting.

In a season in which he is poised to become just the fourth driver in professional drag racing history to win as many as five consecutive NHRA series championships, the 39-year-old Texan rolls into Summit Motorsports Park for this week’s 15th Summit Racing Equipment Nationals winless through nine events.

That’s the longest he and his Capco Contractors team have gone without a tour victory since 2016.  Nevertheless, while the “slump” hasn’t been particularly pleasant for a team that won 46 of 125 tour starts before this year, Torrence believes it was both predictable and necessary.

““The thing about this sport is that you can’t just stand still,” he said.  “You have to change or get left behind.  Everybody we race out there is constantly trying to do something to get just a little quicker, a little faster.  So, really, our biggest enemy is our own success because when you get too comfortable you start to lose your edge.”

The changes directed this season by crew chiefs Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr. and implemented by a crew of “Capco Boys” considered the best in the sport were designed to hone that edge and, while they haven’t yet delivered a win, they have kept Torrence near the top of the driver standings.

When he begins his quest for a third straight Summit Nationals title (and fourth in six years) on Friday, he will occupy fourth place in the Top Fuel standings, the highest placed driver without a 2022 victory.

“With the success we’ve had and the way the car has run (in the past), it’s difficult to set that down,” Torrence admitted.  “When you have an expectation of performance and it’s not there, week-in and week-out, it can be a little frustrating, maybe a little disheartening, but you know (the changes are) for the greater good.

“We’ve found some things that we think are better and we’re working on them,” he continued.  “We’ve definitely been pleased with the way things are trending and I have all the faith in the world in these ‘Capco Boys.’”

Although Torrence thus far has been unable to add a 52nd tour victory to his resume, performance has not been the biggest issue.  He has qualified third or better in all but two of nine starts and twice has started from the No. 1 qualifying position.  The missing link has been a lack of consistency, the single element that set the team apart from every other the last six years.

“We just haven’t made enough laps with this combination for Hoagie and Bobby to know exactly what adjustments to make for changing conditions,” Torrence said, “but as we get more and more data, that’s going to change.  It’s frustrating on one hand after all the success we’ve had, but it’s exciting, too.”

The team will get some much-needed help with that data collection this weekend with the return of Capco founder and CEO Billy Torrence to the cockpit of the team’s second Top Fuel dragster.  An eight-time Top Fuel winner in his own right, the elder Torrence has raced only two times previously this year.

Qualifying begins Friday with nitro sessions at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. and resumes Saturday with two more rounds at 12:30 and 4 p.m.  Single elimination finals start at 10 a.m. Sunday.  All are Texas times and are subject to change.  For the second straight week, FOX broadcast network will cover final eliminations in a three hour show beginning at 2 p.m., Texas time, on Sunday.  Qualifying shows will air on FS1 Friday night and Sunday afternoon.  Consult local listings for times.

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