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Both Torrences Out Early in Epping

Will Lester photo

In need of a sympathetic shoulder Sunday after narrowly losing a second-round race to Clay Millican at the 11th NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway, four-time Top Fuel World Champion Steve Torrence had to look no further than the adjacent pit spot to find one.

Just minutes after the 41-year-old lost to Millican despite a quicker track time from his CAPCO Contractors dragster, dad Billy suffered a similar fate against Shawn Langdon, leaving both to ponder the “what ifs.”

The one saving grace was that both could get an early start on the trip back to Texas, where Steve’s wife Natalie is on final countdown to the birth of the couple’s second child. 

Winner of Saturday’s Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge and the No. 2 qualifier for Sunday’s race behind Doug Kalitta, the younger Torrence simply was victimized by Millican’s best-of-the-race .036 reaction time.

That made the Tennessee driver’s slightly slower 3.841 second track time a winner over Torrence’s best-of-the-round 3.835 at 329.18 miles per hour.

“Well, we were both on the trailer earlier than we’d like to be,” Torrence lamented. “I had a good light. I’ll take a ’61 (.061) every time, but credit to Clay. That .036 was very Justin Ashley-like (a reference to the point leader).”

The difference at the finish line in the race with Millican was .019 of a second, a margin that didn’t win Steve any sympathy from his dad, who lost to Shawn Langdon by an even closer .012 of a second, victimized like his son by his opponent’s reaction time.  Billy, too, was not bad on the lights at .083, but Langdon, himself a former World Champion, was narrowly better at .060.

When qualifying begins Friday in the 23rd Super Grip Tires Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol, Tenn., the Torrences will occupy the No. 4 and No. 7 point positions. Steve will start the process 99 points behind Ashley and 77 ahead of his dad.

This story was originally published on June 3, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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