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‘Mr. Four-Wide’ Steve Torrence Faces New Challengers

Mark Rebilas photos

“Mr. Four-Wide” isn’t a nickname for which Steve Torrence actively campaigned.  However, it is one the four-time Top Fuel World Champion legitimately earned.

After all, when qualifying begins this week in the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the 40-year-old Texan will be trying to win his seventh four-wide race in six seasons.

To put that accomplishment in perspective, he is the only driver, regardless of category, to have hoisted the winner’s trophy more than three times in a four-across era that actually began in 2010, although it didn’t make it to the West Coast until 2018.  

The irony is that no one initially was more critical of the format than was the driver of the CAPCO Contractors Top Fuel Toyota.

“I didn’t like it at all,” admitted the 54-time Mission Foods tour winner, “mainly because it took us out of our usual routine and out of our comfort zone. But we did what we had to do to master it, we started having success and, well, that’ll change how you think pretty quickly. I became a really big fan.” 

At LVMS, Torrence and his CAPCO boys have advanced to the final quad four times in five appearances with wins in 2018 and 2021 and runner-up finishes the last two years.  At ZMAX Dragway in Charlotte, N.C., they won four consecutive times from 2017 through 2021 (there was no race in 2020).

“It gets tougher every year,” Torrence said, “because more drivers are getting comfortable with (the format). But as long I’ve got this crew behind me, we’re gonna be in the four-wide conversation.”

One of the drivers still trying to earn his four-wide “wings” is Billy Torrence, Steve’s dad and CAPCO teammate, who will be making just the fifth four-wide appearance of his career this week, hoping to make the final quad for the first time and, perhaps, challenge “Captain Cuatro” for family bragging rights.

At age 65, the elder Torrence, founder and CEO of CAPCO, the Texas-based oil and gas pipeline construction and maintenance company, is chasing the Top Fuel championship for the first time in his career.

Despite the fact that he never has run every race in the series, he has three Top 5 finishes, earning the No. 3 spot behind Steve and Doug Kalitta in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

An eight-time Top Fuel winner and a runner-up already this year (at the season-opening Amalie Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.), the Texas businessman never has failed to qualify for a Top Fuel event, a streak that current stands at 82 consecutive races.

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Qualifying for the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals will feature sessions at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., Texas time, on both Friday and Saturday with single elimination finals beginning at 2 p.m., Texas time, Sunday.  

This story was originally published on April 9, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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