Point Leader Sends Capco Contractors Dragster After Denso Nationals Title
LAS VEGAS, Nevada – In the offbeat western Quigley Down Under, the title character makes it clear from the outset that he “has no use” for handguns, preferring instead a Sharps long rifle with which he is extremely proficient.
In the movie’s climax, however, as his adversary lies dying in the dirt following an OK Corral-style gunfight, Quigley offers up an explanation of his unanticipated skill with a pistol: “I said I didn’t have much use for one. Didn’t say I didn’t know how to use it.”
That’s the way Mello Yello point leader Steve Torrence feels about four-wide drag racing which makes its west coast debut this week with the 19th running of the Denso Spark Plug Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Although he has been a vocal critic of the novelty format since it made its national event debut at Charlotte, N.C., in 2010, the 34-year-old cancer survivor hasn’t let his prejudice interfere with his performance.
One of only six Top Fuel drivers to have won a four-wide race (and a finalist at two of the last three such events), he’ll be among the favorites Friday when he climbs into the cockpit of his Capco Contractors dragster for the first of four qualifying sessions leading into Sunday eliminations.
Torrence’s problem with four-wide racing is very basic. He cites close friend, fierce rival and three-time NHRA series champion Antron Brown who, in breaking down drag racing for Autoweek Magazine, said “our sport is not a thinking sport. It’s a reaction sport. You train to do everything but reacting is the key.”
Expanding upon Brown’s premise, Torrence said “these are 10,000 horsepower race cars that accelerate to 330 miles an hour. You don’t want to have to think about what you’re going to do when you’re strapped in there.
“You want to have trained yourself well enough to just do it,” he continued, “but when you go four-wide, you change the normal way you do things. You just don’t feel totally comfortable.”
That said, Torrence again is ready for the challenge. The 17-time tour winner not only is considered a threat to win the race itself but also to set the qualifying pace especially since he’ll be racing for the second time this season with his dad Billy as his Capco teammate and data acquisition partner.
It will be Billy Torrence’s first experience with the four-wide concept and his first NHRA race since he reached the semifinals at the Arizona Nationals last February.
“My dad and I have raced together since I was a teenager,” Torrence said, “and racing him in the semifinals at Phoenix was one of the great moments of all time. And he tried to kick my butt!”