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S. Torrence Falls in Final Quad at Las Vegas 4-Wide

Mark Rebilas photo

Steve Torrence once again proved himself a master of four-wide drag racing Sunday but, after driving his CAPCO Contractors Top Fuel Toyota into the final quad for the fifth time in six four-wide appearances at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the four-time World Champion had to settle for third place in one of the most competitive quads in NHRA history.

The 54-time Mission Foods tour winner finished behind reigning series champ Doug Kalitta and current point leader Justin Ashley in the sixth Vegas 4-Wide, a race in which just .054 of a second separated a four-driver final that included motorsports Hall of Famer and Top Fuel rookie Tony Stewart.

As a result, when qualifying begins in the season’s second and final four-wide two weeks hence, the 40-year-old Texan will trail Ashley by 51 points and Shawn Langdon by 28.

The deficit could have been much larger.

Starting from an unfamiliar position outside the top eight after struggling in three of the four qualifying sessions, Torrence managed to battle his way into a record 11th final quad, trailing Kalitta to the finish in each of the first two rounds.

In the final, Kalitta was the last to leave the starting line but the first to reach the finish.  Torrence, the all-time leader in four-wide event wins with six, lost second place to Ashley by a narrow .022 of a second with Stewart fourth.

“We had a great run on Friday (quickest in the second qualifying session at 3.800 seconds), but we probably got a little too aggressive on Saturday,” said the only driver ever to sweep the events in the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship (2018). “We didn’t go down the track on either run (Saturday) and that put us in (a first quad race) with Shawn and Doug.

“The three of us have had the best cars all year but the way it went down, one of us was going home early. Thanks to these CAPCO boys, it wasn’t me,” said the cancer survivor and former Top Alcohol Dragster world champ (2005). “It was tough all day.  There’s no mystery about four-wide anymore. Everybody knows how to do it. We just try to do it a little better.”

It was a shorter day for Billy Torrence, the founder and CEO of CAPCO and driver of the team’s second Top Fuel dragster. The 65-year-old, a winner of eight Top Fuel races in his career, lost in the second quad but did a little better in Super Comp where he won three rounds before losing to three-time former NHRA World Champion Luke Bogacki on a breakout foul.

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This story was originally published on April 16, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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