NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Wherever he finishes, Steve Torrence is primed and ready for the Countdown

When it comes to the Countdown to the Championship, four-time NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Top Fuel champ Steve Torrence has been its most vocal critics, having had to surrender big leads at the points reset, but this year he may benefit from it.
03 Sep 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
Steve Torrence

When it comes to the Countdown to the Championship, four-time NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Top Fuel champ Steve Torrence has been among its most vocal critics, understandable after having had to surrender leads of 558 points (2019) and 411 points (2021) at the Countdown points reset in exchange for a 20-point lead.

He's unlikely this yearto get back to the top seed from which he won all of his championships, sitting in second more than 100 points behind Justin Ashley, which is still way better than his fourth-place regular-season finish last year when the Capco team spent the early part of the season in test mode, and he knows that this season, the Countdown reset may help him in his pursuit of a fifth crown.

“Admittedly I've been not a fan of the Countdown because you work really hard to throw away a lot of hard work, and that's what is frustrating,” he noted. "I don't know if we have an opportunity to go around him, but at the end of the day, you're talking 20 points, 25 points, whatever, whatever it works out to be and it's going to be close.

“I've been in the same situation as Justin. I've gone out and dominated and had a really good race car, too. Not to take anything away from him, but I don't think they completely dominated; it’s more feast or famine because we're No. 2 [in points] and we've only won one race and he's won six.  But he has [crew chief] Mike Green and a bunch of good crew guys over there. He's done a great job. He's shown that he can do well under pressure. 

“We're gonna do what we do; we've been there. I would say that we're battle-tested warriors and have been in the thick of it, so that might be a benefit to us. But there's a lot of other teams and drivers out here as well, so we're gonna have to fight and scratch and claw and pull out the big guns to go for the last six. And we start here and we try to end the regular season on a bang and go into that race into the Countdown with some momentum and some tenacity.”

To Torrence’s earlier point, he’s only won once this year, in Seattle, where he briefly held the points lead, but he’s lost in the second round at both of the last two races, each time on a holeshot.

“I have been the weak link the last few races,” he analyzed. “I go up there and dead late on the Tree because I'm anticipating the Tree and instead of pushing the gas — you're stopping yourself from pushing it too early — and I’m making mistakes that typically somebody that's as seasoned as I am shouldn't be doing, but you just go out there and do it every now and then and you look like this your first race ever. But I'm comfortable. I'm confident I've got a great race car and a great group of guys behind me and a lot of people to support me.

“At the end of the day, it's going to be consistency that wins the championship. I've said it before: You go to semi’s, and every one of these, you got a good chance of being the champ.”