Steve Torrence clinched his fourth straight NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Top Fuel championship Sunday at the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, putting a 10-gallon hat on a dominating season in which he won half of the events on the calendar.
Torrence clinched the title with a first-round win over Brandon Welch, locking out his only remaining challenger, 2017 world champ Brittany Force.
“I never could have imagined winning one championship, to be honest with you, and to be up here with those Capco boys that have taken me to the front, they are the reason that we get these. And I just get to sit in the best race car at the place.
“A lot of respect goes out to Brittany Force and Mac Savage, and David Grubnic because they're awesome, bad, bad hombres over there, and they turned it on when it needed to. Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana and every one of them bad-to-the-bone Capco boys stood tall when they needed to. I don't know how we got here, but it's nothing short than the grace of the good Lord. My family, my mom and dad that have supported my dream all my life, my wife and my baby girl. You know, we have one of those it changes your whole perspective on everything and I'm glad that we were able to get it done for her first year here. She's seven months old, and she's got more trophies and most people out here and the world championship, so just unbelievable today, unbelievable weekend. Thanks for everybody who supported us. This is unreal.”
Torrence, at the wheel of his vaunted black and red Richard Hogan-tuned Capco Contractors dragster, led the championship points race almost from the beginning of the season, assuming the points lead after a victory at the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas in April, at the second race of the year.
Torrence held the lead for the next 13 events and winning at the NTK NGK NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte; the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals in Houston; the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio; the NHRA Sonoma Nationals in Northern California; the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn.; and the Dodge//SRT NHRA U. S. Nationals in Indianapolis to lock up the top seed in the Countdown to the Championship.
After beating Force in the final of the U.S. Nationals, Torrence owned a tremendous 411-point lead, but had to relinquish nearly all of it in the Countdown reset, then set about rebuilding the lead in the seven-race playoffs, winning the Countdown-opening Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pa.
Torrence relinquished the lead just once, to Force after she defeated him in the semifinals at the NHRA Carolina Nationals, but he quickly regained the top spot by winning next event, the NHRA Midwest Nationals in St. Louis.
Torrence also appeared in the next three final rounds, runner-upping ta two before winning the season’s penultimate race in Las Vegas, to own a 105-point edge entering the season finale.
With the championship, Torrence becomes just the eighth driver in NHRA history to win four (or more) consecutive NHRA world championships, and just the third in Top Fuel, after Joe Amato and Tony Schumacher.