EPPING, N.H. – Having forged a record 404-point lead over nearest rival Doug Kalitta, one might be inclined to think that Steve Torrence will lack motivation this weekend when he sends his Capco Contractors dragster after the Top Fuel championship in the seventh annual NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.
After all, there’s no particular benefit to further increasing a lead that will be reduced to just 20 points when the NHRA makes its pre-Countdown adjustment.
Nevertheless, it is unlikely that the reigning Mello Yello Champion and most recent New England Nationals winner will put his team in “test mode” for the final six races of the regular season. That simply is not his style.
“I know what some people are saying,” acknowledged the 33-time tour winner, “but the truth is, we go out there to win every race. We’ve won six times this year, we’ve got six more races before they adjust the points and we want to win all six.
“We’re just a family-owned race team out here to have fun and for all of us, Richard (crew chief Hogan), Bobby (car chief Lagana Jr.) and all the rest of these Capco boys, there’s nothing more fun than winning.”
In fact, Torrence has won 12 of the last 18 tour events, six of the last seven, a performance that has propelled him to within one victory of tying Cory McClenathan for No. 8 on the all-time NHRA Top Fuel winners’ list.
But for a parts failure last month at Bristol, Tenn., Torrence likely would be racing this week for his eighth straight tour victory instead of racing “just” to reach the final round for a personal record eighth consecutive time.
“That’s racing,” Torrence said of the broken crankshaft that allowed Mike Salinas to slip by for the win. “You can’t take anything for granted.”
Vote for Steve: Torrence can get an off-the-track win next week, and fans can help. Torrence is among four finalists for the Best Driver award to be presented next Wednesday, July 10, during the 27th annual ESPY Awards.
Although a drag racer never has won the Best Driver ESPY, Torrence is the 10th NHRA professional nominated. This year’s ESPY Awards, hosted by comedian Tracy Morgan, will be televised on ABC at 7 p.m.
Since a fan vote is one of the elements in the selection process, the NHRA has created a special site to accommodate drag racing fans who wish to participate. To cast a vote for Steve Torrence go to www.NHRA.com/VoteSteve.