Coming off arguably the best three-week stretch in his Top Fuel career, Steve Torrence heads to Heartland Park Topeka, the site of this weekend’s 29th annual Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties, a confident driver.
Torrence has advanced to three straight final rounds and has posted back-to-back NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series victories in his 10,000-horsepower Capo Contractors Inc. dragster, knocking off a number of considerable stalwarts in the process. That has supplied plenty of confidence and momentum for Torrence and his seasoned team, and it also has him anxious to keep up this torrid pace after a week off.
“We’re going to try to continue to do what we’ve been doing at the same pace and not slack off,” said Torrence, who sits third in Top Fuel points. “If you get out of that routine and get into a different regimen, you may lose momentum. We want to continue with that same intensity. Everything we do is based on confidence and I know the car is going to be on point. We’ve made some changes to the entire set-up and the car is responding well. The race car that I have right now is the best race car I’ve ever had in my life.”
“We want to keep the pressure on everybody we’re racing so they know they have to consistently run well,” said Torrence, a 10-time Top Fuel winner. “When you get to that place where they know you’re going to run well, it forces them into mistakes. I feel like that’s where we’re at, and it’s something we’ve evolved into.”
In the process, Torrence has shared in some playful banter with the likes of Schumacher and points leader Leah Pritchett, who has three wins this season including beating Torrence in the final round at Houston. For Torrence, it’s all in good fun but it’s also a sign of the Texas native’s strong competitive spirit. He’ll have that on display in Topeka, where he’s determined to pick up his first Top Fuel win at the track despite a number of worthy contenders, including defending winner Kalitta, who capped off a stretch of three straight wins with a Topeka victory a year ago.
“I’m having a blast,” Torrence said. “I’m having more fun than I probably ever have. Those guys, they want to beat me just as bad as I want to beat them, and sometimes I think you have to add a little flavor and a little color into what’s going on. Topeka was my first national event win in Top Alcohol Dragster 12 years ago and it’s a pretty neat place to race. I would love to be able to win in a (Top) Fuel car. It would be one to check off the list.”
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 19 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, May 20, at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 21.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.