The odds abandoned Steve Torrence Sunday at Summit Motorsports Park, where his bid for a fourth straight odd-year victory in the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals ended in an excruciatingly narrow second-round loss to point leader Justin Ashley.
Despite the disappointment, the 40-year-old Texan managed to hang onto second place in the Camping World point standings as the tour next moves to Denver, Colorado, for the start of the grueling three-race Western Swing.
Torrence’s shootout with Ashley was decided at the starting line, where the latter used a .039 of a second reaction time to get an early lead that held to the finish.
Ashley won in 3.721 seconds at 328.06 mph. Torrence was quicker at 3.703, the quickest time of eliminations, but couldn’t make up the starting line deficit in a CAPCO Contractors dragster that was closing fast, posting a finish line speed of 331.77 miles per hour.
When qualifying begins July 14th for the 43rd and final Dodge Power Brokers Mile-High Nationals, Torrence will trail Ashley by 97 points with six races remaining before the totals are adjusted for the Countdown to the Championship.
“I’ve just got to do a better job,” said the 53-time NHRA tour winner and only pro driver ever to sweep the six races in the Countdown. “The CAPCO boys gave me a car that could win – and I didn’t get the job done. The only good thing is that there’s still a lot of racing ahead of us.
“We’ll just reload and get ready for the Western Swing,” he said. “Our car is rock solid, and we have a lot of history at Denver. So, we’ll just line up and do it again in two weeks. Hats off to Justin and his team. They’re on a roll, but we’ll try to have something for ‘em up on the mountain.”
Torrence has won two of the last three races contested at Bandimere Speedway, the most elevated track on the circuit (5,800 feet).