RICHMOND, Va. – Steady Steve Torrence repeated as Top Fuel champion at the NHRA Virginia Nationals Sunday and, in so doing, became just the ninth driver in history to win as many as 30 tour events in drag racing’s premier division.

The 36-year-old Texan beat his dad, Billy, in the semifinals before edging close friend and arch rival Antron Brown in a classic final to extend his current tour winning streak to three straight. As a result, when racing resumes with the 22nd annual NHRA Route 66 Nationals at Chicago, May 30-June 2, he will lead Brittany Force by a whopping 160 points.

Sunday, Torrence drove his Capco Contractors dragster through the 1,000-foot course in 3.881 seconds at a finish line speed of 319.22 miles per hour to win for the 22 time in the last 50 tour events.

Brown, who has beaten the reigning series champion more often than anyone else in the category, trailed in 3.899 seconds at 309.49 mph.

Although Brown owns a big career advantage, Sunday’s final round win was Torrence’s fifth straight. Brown has a 29-10 overall edge but the two now are 5-5 in final round duels.

“That guy has kicked my butt over and over and over,” Torrence said of Brown. “To say that you can go head-to-head with a guy like that. A.B. is, in my estimation, the best out here. (So), to say we’re neck and neck, I’m honored and really just proud to say that (because) he’s the baddest guy on the block.”

The No. 4 qualifier, Torrence took down Canadian Todd Paton in round one and Scott Palmer in round two before beating his dad for the fifth time in has many meetings and for the second time in the semifinal round. Once again, though, he credited the “Capco boys” who make up his crew for delivering in difficult conditions.

Now that he’s won 30 times in Top Fuel, the man who swept last year’s six-race Countdown to the Championship can focus on moving up on the all-time wins list.

He is four career victories shy of tying Cory McClenathan for eighth place in Top Fuel, five shy of tying racing legend Don Garlits and nine shy of equaling the Top Fuel victory total of Kenny Bernstein.

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