DENVER  – Steve Torrence’s season of dominance continued Sunday at Bandimere Speedway, where the reigning Mello Yello Champion overcame good friend Clay Millican in the final round to win the 40th annual Dodge Mile-High Nationals and extend to nine his streak of consecutive final round appearances.

Torrence’s eighth win of the year at the wheel of the Capco Contractors dragster propelled him past Tony Schumacher and into uncharted territory as the winner of more events over a three-year period than anyone in Top Fuel history. 

Schumacher, the eight-time series champion, hoisted the trophy 26 times in the 2007, 2008 and 2009 seasons.  Torrence, from Kilgore, has won 27 times since the start of the 2017 campaign and there still are 10 races remaining including the six Countdown events he swept en route to the 2018 championship.

“Unbelievable,” he said after tying “Big Daddy” Don Garlits for eighth place in all-time Top Fuel victories with 35.  “All the glory goes to God and to this Capco crew.  Richard Hogan.  Bobby Lagana.  All these guys.  It’s really humbling and really a privilege to be the guy driving this race car.”

The No. 1 qualifier, Torrence seemed to have everything under control on the 5,800-foot high racetrack that played havoc with most of his rivals.

After gobbling up all but one of the available qualifying bonus points and becoming the first to break the 330 mile an hour barrier at extreme altitude, the 36-year-old was quickest in two of the first three rounds with a best-of-the-day 3.787 on a first round single.

However, in the afternoon heat in which the final round was contested, his previously flawless hot rod lost traction and dropped cylinders, compelling him to employ all his driving skill to get it to the finish line ahead of Millican’s Parts Plus entry.  In the end, his 4.044 was good enough to cover Millican’s 4.126 thanks in no small part to a .044-.058 starting line advantage.

“A couple of hillbillies racing in the final,” a beaming Torrence said.  “Clay’s a great guy, a great driver and that’s a hell of a race team he’s got over there.  I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more of them once we get into the Countdown.”

When qualifying begins Friday in the 31st annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals in California, the second stop in the grueling Western Swing, Torrence will lead second place Brittany Force, whom he defeated in Sunday’s semifinals, by 555 points in the Top Fuel standings. Friendly rival Antron Brown is 12 points behind Force, in third place.

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