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Four-Time Top Fuel World Champ Steve Torrence Has Eye on Pep Boys Call-Out, Gatornationals Victories

Jason Zindroski photo

Seven years after winning a Top Fuel bonus race and the U.S. Nationals on the same Labor Day weekend, Steve Torrence and his CAPCO boys are poised to make good on a brand-new double-up opportunity this week when they send their CAPCO Contractors Toyota back to work in the first race in the NHRA Mission Foods Championship series.

After ending a long drought at Gainesville Raceway with a signature victory in the 2020 Amalie Gatornationals, Torrence followed up two years later with a win in the inaugural Pep Boys All-Star Call Out, a rain-plagued bonus event that began in Florida but ended in Indiana.  

Now, with his dad Billy on board as a full-time CAPCO teammate, the 40-year-old Texan will try to become the first repeat winner of the Call Out a day before he shifts his focus to the 55th annual Gatornationals.

Mark Rebilas photo

“Winning one race (in a weekend) is tough enough,” Torrence said, “winning two, especially against the kind of competition we’ve got right now, is just about impossible.  But having said that, these CAPCO boys have been doing the impossible for a long time and they just love a challenge.”

Indeed, it basically was the same CAPCO crew, led by Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr., that helped power Torrence to his double win at Indy and, a year later, to one of the most unlikely achievements in drag racing history – a sweep of the six races in the NHRA playoffs.

“I don’t think anyone is going to dominate like we did (winning 35 times in 77 starts on the way to four straight championships from 2018 through 2021),” Torrence said, “but I still go up there every time knowing I’ve got a car that can win, and you can’t ask for more than that.”

One of 16 pro drivers to have won as many as 50 times in the NHRA pro series (his next win will be No. 55), Torrence is trying to extend to 10 the number of consecutive seasons in which he has been a tour winner although he admits that he is hoping to win multiple events after securing only one title last year even though he led the points at the end of eight different events and finished second behind Doug Kalitta. 

While acknowledging the importance of doing well on Sunday, Torrence is hoping to make an early statement in Saturday’s Call Out in which he earned the right to name his first round opponent based on points earned in 2023.

Qualifying sessions for the Gatornationals are scheduled at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., Texas time, Friday.  Torrence will open his bid for a second Call Out win in the first round at 12 noon, Texas time, on Saturday.  Subsequent rounds are scheduled for 1:45 and 3:25 p.m., Texas time.  Sunday’s single elimination finals in the Mission Foods series opener begin at 9:30 a.m., Texas time.   

This story was originally published on March 7, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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