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Regular Season Champ Leads the Top Fuel Contingent at 34th Dodge Nationals

READING, Pa. – His once imposing lead reduced to a paltry 20 points after the NHRA’s “adjustment” of the driver standings, Steve Torrence goes back to work this week trying to turn regular season dominance into playoff success, something he was unable to do a year ago.
Winner of 13 of the last 42 Mello Yello tour events, twice as many as any other driver in the class, the 35-year-old Texan’s first piece of playoff business will be to end a career-long victory drought at Maple Grove Raceway which, in a flip-flopped schedule, plays host to the first of the six races comprising the Countdown to the Championship.
“We only know one way to race,” the driver of the Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster said of his team’s strategy for the 34th annual Dodge Nationals, beginning Friday. “We’re not going to change for the Countdown.
“Last year, Brittany (reigning champion Brittany Force) had a great run but I still think we could have held her off if we hadn’t crashed our car at Dallas,” lamented the man who seemed to have things well in hand until that crash forced him into a back-up car for the final two events. “But things happen. It’s just racing. You play the hand you’re dealt and we’re okay with that.
“When you get that close, though, so close you can taste it, it just makes you that much hungrier,” he admitted. “It just makes you want it that much more. We’ve been waiting all year to get another shot and I think these Capco boys are up for it.”
Before the aforementioned “adjustment,” Torrence led his closest rival by 197 points, almost 10 rounds. Now, though, it’s anybody’s ball game.
“Richard Hogan and Bobby (Lagana Jr.) have a good handle on the tune-up,” Torrence said of the mechanical minds who have kept him atop the driver standings since the second race of the current campaign and after 27 of the last 32 events overall. “So, if I just do my job, we’re gonna have a good chance to win every week.”
The 2005 Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion, Torrence’s pro career didn’t take off until he formed his own team in 2012. Since then, he has won 21 times and finished ninth, tenth, sixth, eighth, third and second in Mello Yello points.
After winning eight races a year ago, Torrence added five more this year to become the first driver in Top Fuel history, and just the fifth overall, to win back-to-back regular season championships.
He is trying to become the first in NHRA history to win series championships in both the Fuel and Alcohol divisions.


Date Site Qualifying position and race detail Points

Feb. 11 Pomona, CA 2. Beat Steve Faria; lost to Antron Brown 5th

Feb. 25 Phoenix, AZ 2. Beat Steve Chrisman, Blake Alexander, Billy

Torrence and Scott Palmer 1st

March 19 Gainesville, FL 2. Lost to Mike Salinas 1st

April 9 Las Vegas, NV 5. 4Wide WINNER over Tony Schumacher,

Doug Kalitta and Antron Brown 1st

April 22 Houston, TX 9. Beat Scott Palmer; lost to Leah Pritchett 1st

April 29 Charlotte, NC 4. 4Wide WINNER over Doug Kalitta, Terry

McMillen and Clay Millican. 1st

May 6 Atlanta, GA 3. Beat Terry Haddock, Doug Kalitta; lost Blake Alexander 1st

May 20/21 Topeka, KS 2. Beat Terry Haddock, Brittany Force; lost Terry McMillen 1st

June 3 Chicago, IL 1. Lost to Luigi Novelli 1st

June 10 Richmond, VA 6. Beat Scott Palmer, Terry McMillen, Antron Brown

and Doug Kalitta 1st

June 17 Bristol, TN 6. Beat Shawn Reed, Antron Brown; lost to Schumacher 1st

June 24 Norwalk, OH 3. Beat Chris Karamesines, Mike Salinas; lost McMillen 1st

July 8 Epping, NH 3. Beat Dan Mercier, Shawn Reed, Tony Schumacher

and Antron Brown 1st

July 22 Denver 3. Beat Bill Litton; lost to Blake Alexander 1st

July 29 Sonoma 8. Lost to Doug Kalitta. 1st

August 5 Seattle 1. Beat Ron Smith, Richie Crampton; lost to Antron Brown 1st

August 19 Brainerd 2. Beat Bill Litton, Tony Schumacher; lost to Antron Brown 1st

Sept. 3 Indianapolis 5. Beat Pat Dakin; lost to Terry McMillen 1st



(Starting points for the Countdown to the Mello Yello Championship)

1. Steve Torrence, Kilgore, Texas, Capco Contractors dragster 2100

2. Tony Schumacher, Lakeway, Texas, U.S. Army dragster 2080

3. Clay Millican, Drummonds, Tenn., Parts Plus dragster 2070

4. Leah Pritchett, Danville, Ind., Papa John’s dragster 2060

5. Doug Kalitta, Saline, Mich., Mac Tools dragster 2050

6. Antron Brown, Pittsboro, Ind., Matco Tools dragster 2040

7. Terry McMillen, Elkhart, Ind., Amalie Oil dragster 2030

8. Brittany Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., PEAK/Monster dragster 2020

9. Mike Salinas, San Jose, Calif., Scrappers Racing dragster 2010

10. Scott Palmer, Cassville, Mo., Cat Spot dragster 2000

* * * *

STEVE at Maple Grove Raceway

Last year: After qualifying third, Steve beat Terry Haddock, Leah Pritchett and

Dom Lagana before losing to Brittany Force in the final round.

Starts/Final Rounds/Wins/No. 1 Qualifier: 6/1/0/0

Steve’s quickest time at Maple Grove Raceway: 3.691 seconds, Oct. 2, 2016

Steve’s fastest speed at Maple Grove Raceway: 326.40 mph, Oct. 5, 2014

Steve’s won-lost record at Maple Grove Raceway: 5-6

Steve’s best moment(s) at Maple Grove Raceway: See “Last year” above.

Track records: 3.688 seconds by Antron Brown, Oct. 2, 2016; 334.15 mph by Shawn Langdon, Oct. 8, 2012.


Countdown to the Championship

Sept. 23, 2018 21st AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals St. Louis, Mo.

Oct. 7, 2018 33rd AAA Texas Fall Nationals Dallas, Texas

Oct. 21, 2018 11th NHRA Carolina Nationals Charlotte, N.C.

Oct. 28, 2018 18th Toyota Nationals Las Vegas, Nev.

Nov. 11, 2018 54th Auto Club Finals Pomona, Calif.


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