Steve Torrence and his Capco Contractors Top Fuel team have made a lot of history over the last three seasons, and they’re on the verge of another entry into the stats book if they can pull off a win at this weekend’s DeWalt NHRA Carolina Nationals.
Torrence has won the last five events contested at zMAX Dragway and could become the first Pro driver in any of the four-wheeled NHRA classes to win as many as six consecutive events at one venue.
Torrence currently shares the record of five straight wins at the same venue with Hall of Famers Bob Glidden and John Force, who won their five races in a single event contested at virtually the same time each year utilizing the sport’s traditional one-on-one, loser-goes-home format.
Glidden won five straight Pro Stock titles in the NHRA Springnationals in Columbus (1979-1983), and Force hoisted the Funny Car trophy five straight years at the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville (1992-1996). Torrence’s streak has been far more mix-and-match.
It began in the spring of 2018 when he won the NGK NTK NHRA Four-Wide Nationals and was extended later in the year when he won in standard two-car eliminations at the NHRA Carolina Nationals. The following year, he again won both races — one in April, one in October — before this year winning the Carolina four-wide for the fourth consecutive time.
“That just shows the talent of [crew chief] Richard Hogan, Bobby Lagana, and these Capco boys,” Torrence said. “To be able to make the right adjustments for differences in weather and surface conditions from April to September, especially when you’re going from four lanes to two and back again, is pretty amazing.”
Torrence’s ability to adapt as a driver has been equally impressive, especially considering his initial disdain for four-wide racing.
The 38-year-old Texan is also focused on becoming just the seventh Pro driver in NHRA history to win as many as four consecutive championships (after Don Prudhomme, Kenny Bernstein, Bob Glidden, Lee Shepherd, Force, and Tony Schumacher).
With that goal in mind, he is hoping to put a little more daylight between himself and second-place Brittany Force this week. The No. 1 qualifier at the last seven races, she starts the Carolina Nationals just 12 points behind thanks to an NHRA policy that adjusts the points prior to the start of the Countdown to the Championship. In similar circumstances, it was Force who snatched the championship from Torrence’s grasp in 2017 after he led most of the way. He credits that experience for making him the racer he is today.
“You have to be mentally strong,” he said. “To have that kind of failure and to know you were that close and then accept the fact that it was just you not doing your job when you needed to perform, that’s the only way you can move forward.
“I took that whole next year and redirected my focus on not who I’m racing, not what they’re doing, not what their car did but only on what my car’s doing, what my guys are doing, and what I’m doing when I’m in the car. At the end of the day, that’s the only control I have,” he said.
While he acknowledges Force and her crew chief, David Grubnic, to be the biggest threat to his bid for a fourth straight title, Torrence doesn’t have to look far to find another formidable challenger.
Occupying the pit spot adjacent to his own is a second red-and-black dragster driven by his dad, Billy Torrence, winner of last week’s Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals Presented By Pennzoil in Reading. Although he sat out four races during the regular season, the elder Torrence currently is third in points, the same position in which he finished a year ago.
Between them, the Torrences have won 10 of 14 races this season and 48 of the last 92 events contested on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series tour.