On a track on which he hadn’t won since 2012, Steve Torrence flashed the form that carried him and his CAPCO Contractors team to four consecutive Top Fuel world championships, negotiating the less preferred lane at Pacific Raceways in 3.940 seconds at only 289.26 miles per hour to beat a tire-smoking Doug Kalitta in the final round of Sunday’s 34th Flav-R-Pac Northwest Nationals.
“Two rounds were stellar, and two rounds were hard,” Torrence said of his day’s work, “but you’ve got to stay confident, and it’s difficult to be as confident as you need to be to drive these things successfully when things are not going great.
“Sometimes, you just need to take a step back, re-evaluate the situation, and acknowledge how thankful and grateful and fortunate and blessed we are to be able to do what we do with the great partners that we have.
“This is a great place to win,” he enthused, “and I feel like we’re getting some momentum going at just the right time. We’re getting that race car back that we had in years past.”
The victory propelled the Texas rancher and businessman past Justin Ashley and back into the point lead with only four races remaining before the NHRA adjusts the points for the start of the Countdown to the Camping World Championship.
“I’ve been in these situations on both sides of the spectrum,” said the former Top Alcohol Dragster World Champ (2005), “where you dominate the entire first half of the season or first two-thirds of the season, and you go into the last six (races) and falter (as he did in 2017), or you go into the last six and win them all (as he did a year later), or you just win by a couple points or whatever. But yeah, it's a good time to peak; it’s a good time to start getting ready for the Countdown.”
It was a particularly emotional victory, not just because it was the 200th for Toyota nor because it was the first this season for him and his CAPCO boys, but also because it was his first since the passing of his grandmother last March.