Four-Time Reigning Top Fuel World Champion Channeling his Inner ‘Hulk’

July 20, 2022 -- With the Countdown to the Championship looming just ahead and his streak of consecutive Top Fuel world championships in jeopardy, Steve Torrence is going green this weekend at Sonoma Raceway, a decision that has nothing to do with either envy or ecology.

Reeling from a rare driving error that took him out in round one last week at Denver, Colo., the 39-year-old Texan is determined to make amends this week by channeling his very colorful alter ego in the 34th renewal of the Denso Sonoma Nationals

Among those suddenly challenging Torrence for Top Fuel supremacy are Mike Salinas and Brittany Force, the Camping World point leaders entering the second of three races comprising the NHRA’s grueling Western Swing.

Although he drove his Capco Contractors dragster into the winners’ circle a year ago, Torrence enters the weekend winless in a 2022 season during which his dragster has lacked the consistency that made it virtually unbeatable during a 105-race stretch in which it won 45 times.

Admittedly, transitioning to a new engine and clutch combination has proven to be a bit more troublesome than he and crew chiefs Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr. had anticipated although all three believe it was move that had to be made.

“With the success we’ve had over the last five years and the way the car has run, it’s difficult to set that down,” Torrence said.  “It's difficult to abandon something that took you to four (straight) championships, but we needed to do something different to keep up with Brittany and Grubby (John Force Racing crew chief David Grubnic).

“They’re the ones that really put us in a position where we knew we had to do something else,” he said.  “We had it figured out for a long time but, in this sport, you can’t stand still.  You have to change or get left behind and even though it’s been a little frustrating not to have what we did, we’re pleased with the way things are trending.”

Indeed, while he has endured his longest winless streak in six years, Torrence still is very much in contention.  He comes into Sonoma fourth in points with five races remaining in which to improve his position before the NHRA adjusts the points for the start of the Countdown to the Championship.

Sonoma Nationals qualifying begins with a single nitro session at 10 p.m., Texas time, Friday followed by sessions at 3 and 6 p.m., Texas time, Saturday.  Sunday eliminations begin at 12:30 p.m., Texas time, with coverage on the FOX broadcast network starting at 3 p.m., Texas time.  FS1 will offer up qualifying highlights in Texas time shows at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

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