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S. Torrence Eyes Another Win at zMax Dragway

Mark Rebilas photos

He misfired on a chance to raise the winner’s trophy on daughter Haven Charli’s third birthday (April 7 at the NHRA Arizona Nationals in Phoenix), and he hasn’t won a Mission Foods tour event in more than nine months, but the stars are aligned this week for four-time Top Fuel World Champion Steve Torrence and his CAPCO boys.

The just-turned-41-year-old Texan rolls his CAPCO Contractors Toyota onto the all-concrete surface at ZMax Dragway for the 14th renewal of drag racing’s original four-across shootout – the NHRA 4Wide Nationals, more confident than he’s been at any time during a two-year transition to a new engine/clutch setup.

And why would he not be?

Since 2016, not only have he and a team anchored by Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr. dominated four-wide racing (winning six of 12 events), they also have ruled on all-concrete surfaces, winning 14 of the 37 races contested on the six NHRA tracks on which there is no transition from concrete to asphalt (including the now-shuttered Bandimere Speedway in Colorado), 11 more than anyone else.

Furthermore, after some initial trepidation about the mechanical changes made to his hot rod (“I think I went to Hoagie a couple of times and said, ‘what the hell have we done? We had a really good race car and now we can’t outrun our own shadow.’”), the rancher and businessman now can see that the light at the end of the tunnel is not the oncoming train he had feared.

After all, he already has added a No. 1 qualifying effort to his racing resume (setting the pace three weeks ago at the NHRA Arizona Nationals), is third in Mission points after the first four races, and he is behind the wheel of one of the few cars to have broken the 3.70 second barrier so far this season.

Add to all that the fact that Sunday’s finals will be contested on dad and teammate Billy’s 66th birthday, and it feels like a perfect storm for the only driver ever to have swept the races in the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship (2018).

According to Torrence, the only thing that has kept the CAPCO team from returning to the winners’ circle it visited a whopping 43 times during a five-year stretch from 2017 through 2021 is the driver himself.

“There were a couple rounds last year that we lost on holeshots that would have won the championship,” he said of last year’s second-place finish, “and when I say we, it’s the guy sitting in the seat. Bottom line, I have not performed like the Steve Torrence of the four championships and that has to change.”

As for Billy Torrence, racing full-time this year for the first time, he will be making just his second appearance in the Charlotte 4-Wide, having lost in the first quad on his birthday weekend in 2021.

Qualifying for the 4-Wide Nationals begins with a pair of nitro sessions at 4:15 p.m. and 6:45 p.m., Texas time, on Friday.  

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Then, before he tries to win his fifth Charlotte four-wide, the younger Torrence will race for some Mission Foods bonus money in Saturday’s #2Fast2 Tasty Challenge in which he has a chance to reverse the order of finish from the most recent event in the series at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

First round of #2Fast2Tasty is set for 11:45 a.m., Texas time, on Saturday with the final as the last quad in the 2 p.m., Texas time, session.  Eliminations begin at 11 a.m., Texas time, Sunday.

This story was originally published on April 25, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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