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Epping a Welcome Sight for Capco Crew

Mark Rebilas photos

Closing in on another milestone in the NHRA Mission Foods Series, four-time World Champion Steve Torrence will try to win his 500th competitive round this week when he sends his CAPCO Contractors Top Fuel Toyota to the line in the 11th NHRA New England Nationals.

On the way to 54 pro tour victories, Torrence has won 497 rounds, three shy of joining an exclusive club that includes one of his racing idols, fellow Texan and six-time series champ Kenny Bernstein. 

“Joining Kenny, Tony (Schumacher) and A.B. (Antron Brown) would be an awesome deal,” Torrence said, “but the truth is, I didn’t win all those races or all those rounds.  I’m just the guy who gets to drive this bad ass hot rod. These ‘bad to the bone’ CAPCO boys are the ones who do the work; they’re the ones that have put me in this position.”  

The all-concrete surface at New England Dragway would seem the perfect stage for the 41-year-old Texan’s latest achievement. Not only is he one of two Top Fuel drivers to have won multiple times at Epping (along with Schumacher), he also is the track record holder for time at 3.664 seconds, a mark he established in 2022. 

To reach his new benchmark, though, the former Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion (2005) will have to advance to the final round this weekend, something he has been unable to manage thus far in a season in which he has been stuck in the semifinals (losing in the penultimate round on four separate occasions, most recently in the Gerber Route 66 Nationals at Chicago).

Nevertheless, he comes in as the No. 4 Top Fuel driver in the Mission Foods championship chase behind only Justin Ashley, Shawn Langdon and Doug Kalitta who, between them, have won five of the six races contested thus far. 

The fact that this week’s race is contested on one of the tour’s five all-concrete tracks merely adds to the veteran’s growing confidence insomuch as he and his CAPCO boys have won 14 times over the last eight seasons on tracks which don’t have a transition point from concrete to asphalt.  

The significance is that no other Top Fuel driver has won more than four times on all-concrete tracks during that span, which is why the only driver ever to have swept the races in NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship (2018) is so anxious to get his car back onto the surface of New Hampshire’s only active dragstrip.

Still, there may be a driver even more excited about the series’ easternmost stop than Steve and that is his dad, Billy, driver of the second CAPCO Toyota and the only driver in the field who is undefeated at New England Dragway.

The founder and CEO of CAPCO, the Texas-based oil and gas pipeline construction and maintenance business, won the race in 2021 in his only previous appearance and did so from the No. 1 qualifying position.

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Top Fuel qualifying in the New England Nationals is scheduled for 4:30 and 7 p.m., Texas time, on Friday. Saturday’s 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., Texas time, sessions will conclude with rounds of the #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, in which the younger Torrence will square off with Antron Brown. Racing Sunday begins at 10 a.m., Texas time.

This story was originally published on May 29, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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