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Can Torrence Wield the Broom?

SONOMA, Calif. – Steve Torrence knows how difficult it is to sweep the Western Swing, the three-races-in-three-weeks test that began last week at mile-high Bandimere Speedway and continues at sea level with the 31st running of the Sonoma Nationals beginning Friday at Sonoma Raceway.

Since Denver, Sonoma and Seattle first were contested back-to-back-to-back in 1989, only seven drivers have managed to win all three events in the same season and no one has done so since Antron Brown in 2009. The success rate for the Western Swing (seven sweeps in 90 attempts) is poorer than that for thoroughbred horse racing’s Triple Crown (13 successes in 145 years).

That said, Torrence knows that he never may have a better shot at joining a very exclusive fraternity composed of Brown, Tony Schumacher, Larry Dixon, Cory McClenathan, Joe Amato, John Force and Greg Anderson than he does right now.

A convincing winner at last week’s Dodge Mile-High Nationals, an event in which he qualified No. 1, posted the quickest time of eliminations and set a track speed record, the talented Texan will be the prohibitive favorite on Sunday whether he qualifies his Capco Contractors dragster No. 1, No. 16 or somewhere in between.

It really doesn’t seem to matter. The 36-year-old cancer survivor already has won this season from the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, No. 5, No. 6 and No. 9 qualifying positions. Moreover, he rolls into wine country having raced in nine consecutive final rounds and having won 14 of the previous 20 events in the Mello Yello series dating back to his sweep of last fall’s six-race Countdown.

“It doesn’t make any difference where we qualify,” said the runaway point leader. “I know on race day, Richard Hogan, Bobby Lagana (Jr.) and these Capco boys are gonna give me a car that can win regardless of the conditions and regardless of the competition. All I can do is screw it up and I’ve been trying my best not to do that. It’s a very humbling experience to be the guy mashing the pedal on a car this good.”

Torrence, whose Denver victory tied him with drag racing legend “Big Daddy” Don Garlits for eighth place in career Top Fuel wins with 35, will be re-joined this week by his dad Billy who, after a brief respite, returns to the cockpit of the second Capco Contractors dragster looking for his third win in the last 12 months.

Although he has yet to sweep never has swept the ‘Swing, Torrence has won all three races, albeit in different years. He won Denver in 2015 and 2019, Sonoma in 2017 and Seattle in 2012.

2019 NHRA Mello Yello Points
(After 14 of 18 races leading into the Countdown to the Mello Yello Championship)

1. Steve Torrence, Kilgore, Texas, Capco Contractors dragster 1407
2. Brittany Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Advance Auto Parts dragster 852
3. Antron Brown, Pittsboro, Ind., Matco Tools dragster 839
4. Doug Kalitta, Saline, Mich., Mac Tools dragster 831
5. Clay Millican, Drummonds, Tenn., Parts Plus dragster 813
6. Mike Salinas, San Jose, Calif., Scrappers Racing dragster 763
7. Leah Pritchett, Danville, Ind., Mopar Dodge dragster 714
8. Richie Crampton, Brownsburg, Ind., DHL/Kalitta Air dragster 666
9. Scott Palmer, Cassville, Mo., Magic Dry Organic dragster 613
10. Terry McMillen, Elkhart, Ind., Amalie Intimigator dragster 607
12. Billy Torrence, Kilgore, Texas, Capco Contractors dragster 493

* * * *

The Champ at Sonoma Raceway:

Last year at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals: as the No. 8 qualifier, Steve lost in the first round to Doug Kalitta.
Starts/Final Rounds/Wins/No. 1 Qualifier: 9/1/1/1
Steve’s quickest time at Sonoma Raceway: 3.671 seconds, July 29, 2016
Steve’s fastest speed at Sonoma Raceway: 331.04 mph, July 30, 2016
Steve’s won-lost record at Sonoma Raceway: 11-8
Steve’s best moment(s) at Sonoma Raceway: in 2017, Steve parlayed a No. 6 start into his first win at Sonoma, beating Troy Coughlin Jr., Doug Kalitta, Brittany Force and Antron Brown.
Track records: 3.669 seconds by Leah Pritchett, July 28, 2017; 332.75 mph by Clay Millican, July 29, 2018.

* * * *
NHRA touring pros who have raced in nine consecutive final rounds:

Bob Glidden, Pro Stock, 1978
Lee Shepherd, Pro Stock, 1980
Lee Shepherd, Pro Stock, 1982
Tony Schumacher, Top Fuel, 2008
Steve Torrence, Top Fuel, 2019

So far, so good…. (A season summary)

Date Site Qualifying position and race detail Points

Feb. 10 Pomona, CA 1. Beat Steve Faria, bye, Mike Salinas; lost to Doug Kalitta. 2nd
Feb. 24 Phoenix, AZ 14. Lost to Antron Brown 4th
March 10 Gainesville, FL 3. Beat Dom Lagana; lost to Doug Kalitta 3rd
April 7 Las Vegas, NV 2. Lost in 2nd Quad 3rd
April 14 Houston, TX 2. Beat Kebin Kinsley, Austin Prock; lost to Antron Brown 3rd
April 28 Charlotte, NC 6. WINNER over Clay Millican (Terry McMillen, Leah Pritchett) 1st
May 5 Atlanta, GA 2. Beat Luigi Novelli, Scott Palmer, Shawn Reed 1st
and Brittany Force
May 19 Richmond, VA 4. Beat Todd Paton, Scott Palmer, Billy Torrence 1st
and Antron Brown
June 2 Chicago, IL 3. Beat Terry McMillen, Richie Crampton, Antron Brown 1st
and Mike Salinas
June 9 Topeka, KS 1. Beat Terry Totten, bye, Antron Brown and Billy Torrence 1st
June 16 Bristol, TN 3. Beat Pat Dakin, Clay Millican, Don Lagana; lost to Mike Salinas 1st
June 23 Norwalk, OH 5. Beat Jordan Vandergriff, Doug Kalitta, Brittany Force 1st
and Pat Dakin
July 7 Epping, NH 9. Beat Austin Prock, Terry McMillen, Richie Crampton 1st
and Scott Palmer
July 21 Denver, CO 1. Bye, beat Richie Crampton, Brittany Force and Clay Millican 1st

* * * *

Looking Ahead

August 4 31st Cat Spot NHRA Northwest Nationals Seattle, Wash.
August 18 38th Lucas Oil Nationals Brainerd, Minn.
Sept. 2 65th Chevrolet Performance NHRA U.S. Nationals Indianapolis, Ind.
Sept. 15 +35th Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals Reading, Pa.
Sept. 29 +22nd AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals St. Louis, Mo.

+Indicates events won by Steve Torrence in 2018


Nitro Member
IIRC Torrence is running all AJPE parts and AJ did tune/teach them for a while.
Torrences guys were good learners.


Nitro Member
IIRC Torrence is running all AJPE parts and AJ did tune/teach them for a while.
Torrences guys were good learners.

I could be wrong but I think they started buying a bunch of stuff from Schumacher. Someone else here may know for sure.


Nitro Member
I could be wrong but I think they started buying a bunch of stuff from Schumacher. Someone else here may know for sure.

OK so Torrence buys Schumakers parts and beats them, Tasca buys Schumaker parts and beats them, so once all the parts are equal the great drivers are not so great. Same is happening in PS too.
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