Busy weekend

Kilgore’s own Steve Torrence sits atop the

NHRA Top Fuel points lead as the circuit hits

Richmond, Va., this weekend for the 12th annual Virginia Nationals on FS1. (Photo by MARK REBILAS)

RICHMOND, Va. – Steve Torrence sends his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster after its third straight tour victory this week when he defends his title in the 12th NHRA Virginia Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park.

On the strength of consecutive victories at Charlotte and Atlanta, the talented Texan has roared back into the Top Fuel point lead and put his rivals on notice that, despite a couple of stumbles early in the campaign, he fully intends to repeat as Mello Yello Champion.

When you’ve won 21 of the last 50 NHRA tour events, as Torrence has, it’s hard to be humble, but the 36-year-old cancer survivor is doing his best.

“I’m very confident,” he said, “(and) I think that maybe some of my confidence comes off as cockiness. Looking back on it, maybe some of the ways that I’ve acted weren’t a true indication of who I really am, and I regret that.

“But, really, I don’t have anything to be cocky about,” he explained. “I’ve got a really good group of guys over here that have stuck with me through thick and thin and work their tails off day-in and day-out to give me a race car that can win on every track.

“Then, when I go home to work at Capco (an oil a gas pipeline construction and maintenance company founded by his dad, Billy, who’ll be back in the cockpit of a second Capco dragster this week), I’ve got a great group of guys there that make it possible for me to go off weekends and do what I love to do. It’s very humbling to have that kind of a situation. I’m very blessed.”

The level of Torrence’s domination the last three seasons is remarkable. The only Top Fuel driver to have won more often in any 50-race stretch was eight-time series champ Tony Schumacher, who won 23 times in 50 races from 2006-2008.

Torrence’s streak is the more amazing, however, because it has been forged in defiance of conventional wisdom. Torrence Racing doesn’t build its own chassis or engines or superchargers or cylinder heads. It doesn’t even own its own shop. Every piece on the 10,000 horsepower hybrid was bought “off the shelf.”

“At the end of the day, all the parts and pieces are virtually the same,” Torrence said of his philosophy. “It’s the guys that are putting them together and tuning them that make the difference and I have the best guys out here. I simply can’t give them enough credit for our success out here.”

The NHRA’s “Saturday Nitro Live” airs today at 12:30 p.m., and then the finals of the Virginia Nationals will air tomorrow, coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m., both on Fox Sports 1 (FS1).

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