As the last drivers to go down the track during Friday’s second Top Fuel session, Steve Torrence and his father, Billy, put on a show for the rowdy Brainerd fans. Torrence, who has won just about everything there is to win in Top Fuel over the past two seasons, rocketed to the top of the pack with a 3.738, 328.70 while Billy was close behind with a 3.763 in his matching Capco Contractors dragster. Should he hold on to the top spot through tomorrow's two qualifying runs, it will mark the fourth time this season and 23rd time in his career that the reigning champ has led a Top Fuel field.
“It was very special to go out there and be last pair of day with our two Capco cars,” said Torrence. “Whether it’s qualifying, or race day, or a final round that’s pretty neat. We saw Mike Salinas go a 3.74 in the right lane and thought that was pretty impressive. Then Hogie [crew chief Richard Hogan] got that smirk on his face and went in and started turning knobs in our car. That run didn’t feel as quick as what it ran. It felt good, but a little soft at the start. Normally, I can look up and see the scoreboard, but with the sun setting I couldn’t see it. I was surprised when they told me what it ran.”
“That was good, but we just have something to build on,” Torrence said. “It’s a good starting point. We’ve seen what can happen at this track and when conditions are right we can see 3.66s and 3.67s, and if the weather does what we think it will, you might see them tomorrow.”
The line-up bedhind Torrence includes Salinas with a 3.743, Leah Pritchett at 3.756, and Billy Torrence’s 3.763. Billy was the low qualifier after the first session, picking up three valuable qualifying points as he tries to move into the top ten by the start of the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Billy entered the Brainerd race 66 points behind tenth-place Terry McMillen, who is currently No. 9 with a 3.794. Scott Palmer, also a player in the fight for the top ten, helped his cause with a 3.771 in his Magic Dry dragster.
“Scott is sort of a remote team car to ours, so I was really happy to see him make a nice run,” said Torrence. “He and my dad are both fighting to get into the top ten and I hope they both make it.”
With the first nine qualifiers field already in the 3.7s, the Brainerd race has the potential to produce one of the quickest fields of the year. Several top ten drivers who didn’t make the most of Friday’s prime conditions include Antron Brown, Richie Crampton, and Brittany Force. Both Force and Brown appeared to have nice runs going, before coasting to a pair of 4.2-second runs.