Steve Torrence has been on both sides of Championship Sunday. In 2017, he came in with the points lead and lost it to Brittany Force. Last year he had it wrapped up before the event even began as part of an unprecedented sweep of all six Countdown to the Championship events.
This year it’s too close to call between he and Force, separated by less than a round’s worth of points entering Sunday with championship-hungry Doug Kalitta and his own father, Billy Torrence, nipping at both of their heels.
The focus on Steve-o and Brittany came to a fine point when she defeated him in the final round in Las Vegas two weeks ago, then made an on-camera comment about him “shaking in his boots” because she was closing on him.
Torrence knows how tough his foes are and isn’t dismissive, but his nerves have been tempered by the championship fires the last two seasons and he’s a chill as a cold beer on a hot Texas day.
“It’s a little bit disturbing how relaxed I’ve been coming into this weekend,” he said. “I’ve been in this situation before. We’ve come in here before with the lead and it didn’t pan out the way we wanted it to. Last year there was much less pressure because we’d already won the championship but still had the pressure of trying to remain perfect in the Countdown. 2017 molded the ability to take the pressure. To be honest, there was as much or more pressure last year because you’re five races into it and you don’t want to screw it up.
“But you have to take a step back and look at what you’re doing. It’s the final race of the season and you need to go four rounds. It’s no different than when we were here in February. You have to take each race in itself and put everything else in the back of your head because it’s sudden death.”
The spotlight may be on Torrence and Force as there’s a potential second-round matchup between the two if they were beat their first-round opponents -– Cameron Ferre and Antron Brown, respectively –- and Torrence says if that happens, he’s ready and not fazed or vengeful about Brittany’s “shaking in his boots” comments.
“Brittany is a super-sweet person; she’s not a trash talker," he said. "You get out of these cars and sometimes you’re a little jacked up and you’re liable to say anything. I’m the king of that.”
And then he proved that.
“To be the best you have to beat the best, so she has to beat us,” he said.