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Billy Torrence Ready to Start First Full Season at PRO Superstar Shootout

With a proven crew chief tandem behind him, Billy Torrence begins his first season as a full-time professional this week when he sends his CAPCO Contractors Top Fuel Toyota after the $250,000 winner’s purse in the inaugural SCAG Power Equipment PRO Superstar Shootout presented by Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage at Bradenton Motorsports Park. 

Although he has won eight NHRA tour events since making his first pro start in 2013, the 65-year-old founder and CEO of CAPCO has never run every race in the series.  That changes this year as he joins son Steve in pursuit of an NHRA Mission Foods Top Fuel championship the latter has won four times in the last six seasons.

While he previously raced with a part-time crew whose primary job was data collection, the elder Torrence will roll out this week with a full-time unit anchored by crew chiefs Jason McCulloch and Joe Barlam, both of whom developed their skills under the tutelage of Alan Johnson.  

It’s a team expected to contest the NHRA championship, but before it begins that campaign, it will try to build momentum this week in an event that, at many levels, breaks with tradition. For one thing, the Superstar Shootout has scrapped the traditional tournament-style ladder in which the quickest qualifier races the slowest, second quickest the second slowest, third quickest the third slowest, and so forth.  Instead, a chip draw will determine opponents – and that’s just fine with Billy.

“I like it,” Torrence said of the chip draw.  “I think that keeps it interesting and you’re not manipulating the ladder. They had a deal at old Bowling Green (Beech Bend Raceway in Kentucky, one-time home of the NHRA Sports Nationals) where there’d be an old boy up there with poker chips in a coffee can and you drew a poker chip out of there to see who you were racing. I always liked that.”

Such a random system means that it’s possible that the two Torrences could pull to the line together for Saturday’s first round. It’s one of the elements that has generated considerable fan interest in advance of the actual competition.

“I think it’s over the top,” Torrence said of the pre-race response to the race. “I haven’t seen as much excitement among people involved with it for a long time. I think it’s already gone over well.”

The oldest Top Fuel winner in NHRA history, a distinction he earned three years ago when he won the Pep Boys Nationals at Reading, Pa., Torrence has finished as high as third in season points (2020) and has three Top 5 finishes to his credit.

In fact, while his Top Fuel career dates only to 2013, he has been racing since the 1980s, primarily in Super Comp and Super Gas. The NHRA South Central Division Super Comp Champion in 1999, he has a pair of national Super Comp wins to his credit in five final round appearances, last winning at Atlanta, Ga., in 2016.

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