PHOENIX, Ariz. – Steve Torrence sped to a career best time of 3.655 seconds in qualifying, beat his dad by the narrowest of margins in an all-Capco Contractors Top Fuel semifinal and then outran close friend Scott Palmer to win the 34th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals.
It was the 34-year-old Texan’s ninth win in the last 21 NHRA events and it propelled him into the Mello Yello point standings lead for the third straight year.
Nevertheless, of all of his 17 career victories, this one was special because of the classic father-son semifinal. The younger Torrence got the win, but it wasn’t easy. He won in 3.722 seconds at 328.86 miles per hour; his dad Billy lost in 3.726 seconds at 328.54 mph.
“We’ve been able to do a lot of cool stuff,” the younger Torrence said of his relationship with his dad, “but that one right there is going to rank at the top of all my career – racing my old man like that. The only way it would have been better would be to do it in the final round.
“Heck, we do this for fun. She does it all the time,” he said, pointing at Funny Car winner Courtney Force with whom he shared the winners circle. “And she kicks her dad’s ass. I’ve got to kind of wait for opportunities. He showed up here and then he almost kicked my ass. He did a really good job. I’m proud of him.
“My guys, they’re just a dominant team,” Torrence said of a crew anchored by Richard Hogan and the Lagana brothers, Bobby Jr. and Dom. “I’ve said it before, I think they’re the best out here. I’m the weak link in that situation.
“The team that Bobby and Dom assembled over there for my dad and how well they worked with my guys was amazing,” he continued. “Even Scott Palmer. Those guys are a satellite team to Capco. Basically, we have a hand in everything they do so it was just a good weekend all the way around.”
Torrence, who drove his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster to a category-best eight wins last season, qualified second behind Tony Schumacher but, on a day of attrition, was one of the few “hitters” to advance out of the first round.
He stopped Steve Chrisman in round one and Blake Alexander in round two to earn a semifinal berth opposite his dad.
Billy Torrence, making his first Top Fuel appearance in more than two years, also put up career best numbers including a 3.697 second qualifying time, while dispatching Doug Kalitta, who came in as the Mello Yello point leader, and reigning World Champion Brittany Force.