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Texan Goes After Third Straight Four-Wide Win in NHRA Mello Yello Series

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Although he’s still not a big fan of four-wide drag racing, Steve Torrence admits to having achieved a level of comfort in the novelty format that makes him and his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster the combination to beat this week in the ninth annual NGK Spark Plugs 4Wide at Bruton Smith’s zMAX Dragway.

“Richard Hogan is really good at adapting to track conditions, whether it’s two lanes or four,” Torrence said of the crew chief who has directed him to third and second place finishes in Mello Yello points the last two years. “In four wide racing, the driver is the one who has to make the big adjustments.

“You have to stay focused. It takes a lot more concentration (to go four-wide) because it is so different from what we do at most of the other races,” Torrence said. “I’m finally comfortable with the driving and staging procedures which were pretty overwhelming the first couple times.”

Although he is the defending champion at the NGK 4Wide and is coming off a win in the inaugural Denso 4Wide at Las Vegas where he became the first driver to win four-wide races at two different racetracks, Torrence doesn’t believe his team has any particular advantage this week, unless it is a psychological one.

“Anytime you go somewhere where you’ve had some success, you have a little bit of a mental advantage, a little bit of a swagger,” admitted the 35-year-old cancer survivor. “It gives you confidence that you’ve done it before and it’s in the minds of the people you’re racing that you’ve done it before, so they know they have to step up their game. Sometimes when they try to do that they make mistakes.’

Despite the fact that he returns to zMAX as the co-point leader (with Tony Schumacher), Torrence hasn’t shown the consistency this season that enabled him to win a category best eight races last season plus the Top Fuel Shootout title.

Last week at Houston, he qualified outside the Top 8 for the first time in 60 races and at each of the last two events he has made only one representative qualifying run. Last week, he failed to earn any qualifying bonus points for just the fourth time in the last three seasons.

Torrence’s inconsistency thus far in a season in which he is the only driver to have won more than a single race can be attributed in large to the fact that his team has been doing some development work with new parts and concepts.

“You can’t stand still in this sport,” acknowledged the 18-time tour winner. “You have to constantly be evolving or else you’re gonna get left in the dust. We had a really good race car last year, but we knew it wouldn’t be good enough this year.

“The competition in this class is so good. Everything is always moving forward, quicker and faster, and we’ve got to move, too, if we’re going to stay ahead of the pack,” he said. “We’ve been up front for a while and we don’t want to start to fall behind.

“Right now, we don’t have the consistency that we had last year,” admitted the former Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion (2005), “especially in qualifying, so we’re working on that. But we also know we have to get quicker. That’s the nature of the sport and why it’s so great.”


(NHRA Mello Yello points after five of 18 events leading up to the Countdown to the Mello Yello Championship)

1T. Steve Torrence, Kilgore, Texas, Capco Contractors dragster 385
1T. Tony Schumacher, Lakeway, Texas, U.S. Army dragster 385
3. Antron Brown, Pittsboro, Ind., Matco Tools dragster 324
4. Clay Millican, Drummonds, Tenn., Parts Plus dragster 309
5. Doug Kalitta, Saline, Mich., Mac Tools dragster 304
6. Leah Pritchett, Danville, Ind., Mopar Dodge dragster 284
7. Brittany Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Monster Energy dragster 270
8. Richie Crampton, Brownsburg, Ind., DHL/Kalitta Air dragster 247
9. Terry McMillen, Elkhart, Ind., Amalie Oil dragster 240
10. Scott Palmer, Cassville, Mo., CatSpot Litter dragster 214


Date Site Qualifying position and race detailPoints

Feb. 11 Pomona, CA. Beat Steve Faria; lost to Antron Brown.
Feb. 25 Phoenix, AZ. Beat Steve Chrisman, Blake Alexander, Billy Torrence and Scott Palmer.
March 19 Gainesville, FL. Lost to Mike Salinas.
April 9 Las Vegas, NV. 4Wide WINNER over Tony Schumacher.
April 22 Houston, TX. Beat Scott Palmer; lost to Leah Pritchett.

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STEVE at zMAX Dragway:

Last year at the NGK 4Wide Nationals: After qualifying fourth, Steve outpaced Tony Schumacher to win the four-car final round.:
Starts/Final Rounds/Wins/No. 1 Qualifier: 15/1/1/2
Steve’s quickest time at zMAX Dragway: 3.723 seconds, April 28, 2017
Steve’s fastest speed at zMAX Dragway: 329.10 mph, April 28, 2017
Steve’s won-lost record at zMAX Dragway: 14-14 (8-7 in the 4Wide Nationals)
Steve’s best moment(s) at zMAX Dragway: See “Last year at the 4Wide Nationals” above:
Track records: 3.713 seconds by J.R. Todd, April 28, 2015; 332.18 mph by Spencer Massey, April 15, 2012.


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