Four-Time Reigning World Champion Eyes Win at Northwest Nationals

July 27, 2022 -- The phrase “getting up to speed” has taken on new meaning for Steve Torrence and his Capco Contractors race team this year as crew chiefs Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr. continue to fine-tune a set up designed to diminish the performance advantage currently enjoyed by Camping World point leader Brittany Force. 

Coming off a solid performance last week at Sonoma, Calif., one in which he lost to Force by a scant .019 of a second, the closest race she had en route to the winners’ circle, Torrence hopes to make further progress this week in the 33rd Flav-R-Pac Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways.

Although elapsed time, not speed, is the defining statistic in straight-line racing, finish line speed nonetheless is a clear indicator of whose car makes the most horsepower and right now that is the one tuned for Force by David Grubnic.

“Brittany and Grubby are the ones that really put us in this position, where we knew we had to do something different,” Torrence said.  “We had it figured out for a long time but, in this sport, you can’t just stand still.  If you do, you’re gonna get run over.  It’s been a little frustrating to have to give up what we had (a combination that delivered 45 wins in one 105-race stretch), but we’ve been pleased with the way things are trending.”

The Northwest Nationals should be a good barometer of just how much the 39-year-old Texan has closed the gap on Force in his bid to become just the fourth driver in pro drag racing history to win as many as five straight NHRA championships.

In his favor this week is the fact that Pacific Raceways is one of only a handful of facilities at which Force is not the track speed record holder and one of the few at which he is.  For another, it is a track on which the Texan has won previously (2012), while Force has not, and on which he reached the final round his last time out (in 2019).

“We’ve taken some big steps,” Torrence said.  “To go out and run 330 last week at Sonoma, that’s the first time we’ve done that with the new set-up.  So that was huge, plus we had consistency.  Those guys (Force and Grubnic) are running 335, 336 every week.  They definitely have led the pack. They’re the ones that made us have to get that speed up and, finally, we’re starting to creep up on it.

“When you have an expectation of performance and it’s not there, week in and week out, it can be a little disheartening, but you know it’s for the greater good.

“These Capco Boys will figure it all out,” he added.  “They’re unbelievable.  No matter how many races I wind up winning – and we’re gonna win some more, it won’t be because of anything I’ve done.   The Capco Boys do all the work and I’m just the guy who’s lucky enough to drive the car.   We’ve won 51 times, but all that means to me is that 51 times I didn’t screw it up.  I’m going to go out and try and make it 52 this weekend and we’ll go on from there.”

Qualifying begins Friday with a solo session at 8:45 p.m., Texas time, and concludes on Saturday in sessions at 4 p.m. and 6:45 p.m., Texas time.  Sunday eliminations begin at 12:30 p.m., Texas time.  FS1 and the FOX broadcast network again will split the television coverage with the former airing qualifying highlights in Texas time shows at 1 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday and the latter handling race coverage in a show beginning at 3 p.m., Texas time.

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