POMONA, Calif. – It’s not in his DNA to do the minimum, so Steve Torrence hasn’t paid much attention this week to speculation about all the various scenarios that could deliver an historic fourth consecutive NHRA Top Fuel championship even if he doesn’t add a victory in the 56th Auto Club Finals to an already impressive 2021 resume.
“We won’t change what we do,” insisted the 38-year-old from Kilgore, who will roll his Capco Contractors dragster to the starting line this weekend at Auto Club Raceway with a 105-point lead in the NHRA’s Top Fuel standings. “Our first goal is to get well-qualified and, after that, to go out and win the race. We’ve learned that if you do that, everything else will take care of itself.”
That simple strategy, facilitated by a crew of “Capco Boys” led by Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr., has lifted the 50-time Camping World tour winner to a level of Top Fuel dominance rivaling that of Tony Schumacher when he won six consecutive NHRA championships starting in 2004.
During his run, Schumacher won 77.6 percent of his individual races (312-90) while winning an average of 8.32 tour events every year. Torrence, by comparison, has won 81.4 percent of the time over the last five years (259-59) while averaging 8.4 race wins per season.
Nevertheless, none of that will matter this weekend.
“This is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ sport,” Torrence said. “You’re only as good as your last run. People talk about us dominating everything, but it’s so competitive out there right now. On a given day, anybody can win.
“You’ve got Antron (Brown) and Doug (Kalitta) and Clay (Millican) and Brittany (Force) and Leah (Pruett), Mike Salinas and Shawn Langdon, and then you have a whole new generation coming up with guys like Justin Ashley and Josh Hart. That’s what keeps us motivated, having to prove ourselves all over again every weekend.”
Few have responded to that challenge more forcefully than Torrence who, over the last five years, has become one of only a handful of NHRA pros to have won races at every track on tour. Moreover, with 10 wins this year, he is the first driver in 13 years (since Schumacher in 2008) to win at least half the races in the series.
“I say it every week, but I mean it every time: all the credit goes to God, my momma (team owner “Momma Kay” Torrence) and the Capco Boys. I’m just blessed to be the guy who’s strapped in the seat.”
See the finals on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), beginning Sunday at 3 p.m.