PHOENIX, Ariz. – Coming off a good news-bad news opener in which he directed his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster to a career best speed of 333 miles per hour before bowing out of the Lucas Oil Winternationals, Texan Steve Torrence has called in some reinforcements for this week’s 34th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.
When qualifying begins in the second event in the NHRA series, it’ll be Torrence-times-two: Kilgore's Steve Torrence at the wheel of one 10,000 horsepower Capco entry, and his dad, Billy, at the controls of a second in a two-pronged attack designed to propel the former to the top of the Mello Yello driver standings where he spent most of the 2017 season.
The younger Torrence was the Top Fuel point leader after 10 races last year before finishing second to Brittany Force.
He won a category-best eight races including the Labor Day U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, won the Traxxas Shootout bonus race and was either first or second in points from mid-June until season’s end.
“We’ve made a few cosmetic changes this year but really it’s the same core group,” Torrence said.
“It’s the same Morgan Lucas Racing chassis, the same Richard Hogan tune-up, the same family group that carried us to second and third place finishes the last two years. All that’s left is to win the thing.”
A promising start to the Winternationals, an event he won in 2016, evaporated in a second round foul start against close friend and three-time world champion Antron Brown.
“We’re going for a do-over at Phoenix,” mused the 34-year-old cancer survivor. “These Capco guys gave me a car that could win (at the opener) and I screwed it up. All I can do is get back on my game and try to make it up to them this week.”
A 16-time pro winner, Steve Torrence is a past world champion in the Top Alcohol Dragster class (2005) who for the last two seasons has been poised to become the first driver ever to win NHRA series titles in both the Fuel and Alcohol categories.
He hopes to close the deal this time around.
Billy Torrence, himself an accomplished sportsman racer who most recently was the Super Comp champion at the 2016 NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta, Ga., will be making his first Top Fuel appearance since he was beaten in the second round of the 2015 Auto Club Finals by Doug Kalitta.
“It’s always great racing with my dad whether he’s in the fuel car or the Super Comp car,” Torrence said. “Drag racing has always been something we’ve shared as a family. My dad and I drive but I think my mom likes the sport more than either one of us.”
The Arizona Nationals finals will be on Fox Sports 1 on Sunday night, starting at 5:30 p.m.