Steve Torrence took his CAPCO Contractors Top Fuel Toyota to the semifinals for the third straight week and for the eighth time in 12 races this season, but his bid for back-to-back victories on the Camping World tour fell just short Sunday in the 35th DENSO Sonoma Nationals contested in California’s wine country.
The four-time World Champion, the only driver ever to sweep the races in the Countdown, dropped a narrow semifinal
decision to close friend and fellow World Champ Antron Brown and, as a result, once again relinquished the point lead to Justin Ashley.
Brown covered the 1,000-foot Sonoma Raceway course in 3.794 seconds at 329.83 miles per hour for the win; Torrence trailed in 3.810 seconds with a finish line speed of 328.78 mph.
As the No. 2 qualifier, the Texas rancher and businessman breezed past part-time pro Ron August in the first round, a victory that automatically propelled him into the penultimate round thanks to a bye run he earned in a field of only 13 cars.
However, it was on that bye run that his double-up bid began to unravel when the 11,000 horsepower engine in his CAPCO entry suffered a catastrophic failure that brought the car to a halt before it ever reached the finish line and cost him lane choice against Brown.
“The CAPCO boys did a helluva job putting everything back together (after the second round issues),” Torrence said. “They gave us a chance, but Antron just had a little too much. We’ll just step back, regroup and get back after ‘em at Topeka.”
After a one week break, Torrence will begin qualifying for the 34th Menard’s Nationals at Topeka’s Heartland Motorsports Park trailing Ashley by 32 points with just three races remaining before the points are adjusted for the start of the Countdown to the Championship.