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S. Torrence Reaches Semifinals in Phoenix

Tom Macht photos

Steve Torrence’s bid to hoist the winner’s trophy on daughter Haven Charli’s third birthday fell short Sunday at Firebird Motorsports Park where the four-time World Champion dropped a narrow decision to point leader Shawn Langdon in the semifinals of the 39th NHRA Arizona Nationals.

The result extended the 40- 40-year-old Texan’s “close, but no cigar” season at the wheel of a resurgent CAPCO Contractors Top Fuel Toyota.

After qualifying No. 1 for the first time in 13 trips to Firebird, Torrence stopped rookie Travis Shumake in round one and dispatched Shawn Reed in the quarterfinals before losing to Langdon by .008 of a second.

Fortunately, the 54-time Mission Foods tour winner won’t have much time to dwell on what might have been.

He and his dad Billy, driver of the second CAPCO Contractors hybrid, will begin qualifying this Friday for the sixth running of the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  

“We haven’t been able to get the driver and the car on the same page at the same time,” lamented the only driver ever to sweep the races in the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship (2018). “This one was on me.”

While the younger Torrence was so close to putting his hot rod in the winners’ circle (as he did in 2018 and 2020), Billy Torrence and his crew chiefs, Joe Barlam and Jason McCulloch, never hit their stride at Firebird although they did manage to reach the second round and remain solidly in the top four in the Mission Foods NHRA Drag Racing Series point standings. 

This story was originally published on April 8, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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