TORRENCE SETS PERSONAL BESTS ON HOME TURF AT FALLNATIONALS
Steve Torrence knows that this one just means a little bit more.
A proud Texan who is not shy about his Lone Star roots, Torrence says he feels the added pressure each time he straps into his 11,000-horsepower dragster in his home state.
So when Torrence came out on Friday and set a personal best in resetting the track elapsed time mark and making the sixth quickest run in Top Fuel history at the Texas NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex, it was a bit of a special moment for the four-time champion.
“I have so much history here at this racetrack,” Torrence said. “Growing up racing here, from Super Comp, Super Gas, Top Alcohol, Fuel, there are a lot of expectations when you come here. You want to do well in front of the hometown crowd. You want to go out and do well in front of the fans. I take pride in being from Texas and we haven’t had the success here the past couple of years. This is more than just a race, it is an event. To go low e.t., to set a career best speed and e.t., it is special.”
Torrence set his personal best marks with a 3.636-second lap at 336.62 mph in Q2 on Friday behind the wheel of his Capco Contractors dragster, storming back from a midfield pass in the first qualifying session that set the team up for taking a huge swing under the lights.
“You have to dance with the girl that you brought and Richard Hogan, Bobby Lagan and Justin Crosslin, every one of those guys has put so much blood, sweat and tears in what they are doing,” Torrence said. “It makes you proud of the team you are part of. (The first run) wasn’t the best run, but it was a good layup and it gave us the opportunity to go out and make that pass.
“We need to keep the car running well and this is a great place to start. Making that run right there sets you up really well to stay No. 1 and have a better vantage point for race day on Sunday. You can’t win a championship here, but you can lose one. We need to try to stay solid.”
Doug Kalitta, who was quickest in Q1 and the most recent No. 1 qualifier in the class, was second in his Mac Tools dragster with a 3.642 at 334.70 mph. Torrence’s father, Billy Torrence, was third with a 3.660 at 334.57 mph, while Justin Ashley (3.670) and Brittany Force (3.675) rounded out the top five.
While Torrence has never been shy about his feelings for the Countdown to the Championship, where a nine-month season comes down to a six-race stretch at the end of the year to determine the champion, Torrence is nonetheless proud of the consistency his team has shown this year, even if he only has one win to show for it.
Regardless, a win on Sunday could put Torrence right back in the thick of the championship hunt.
“At the end of the day, we have been the most consistent car across the board,” Torrence said. “We have only won one race, but I don’t think we have fallen any lower than second or third throughout the year. We need to continue to make consistent runs. We’ve won four championships by being very consistent and quick and I think that possibly we’ve lost some of that advantage because these guys are swinging for the fence all the time. You see more 60s than you’ve ever seen. You can’t go up there and run a 68 when the track looks like it will take a 66. You’ve got to bring your A game every lap.”
Now Torrence shifts his focus to Sunday where a win this weekend on Texan soil would mean so much more than most.
“In the Countdown to the Championship, it changes the dynamic of the way that you approach everything,” Torrence said. “There is zero room for error. You have to go into it and make every swing, every hit count. It changes the mindset a little bit, but as far as just wanting to come here and be competitive and win this race, this one has more incentive than any of them because it is home.”