Steve Torrence and his veteran crew did all they could Monday to overcome a series of unanticipated obstacles and get their CAPCO Contractors Top Fuel dragster back into the winners’ circle at the 69th Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.
In the end, after damaging the chassis that had propelled Torrence to his first No. 1 start in drag racing’s biggest event and after an improbable double-engine swap between the second and third rounds, the four-time Top Fuel World Champions came
up .093 of a second short in a final round won by Antron Brown.
After a dead-even start (.040 to .042), Brown won “The Big Go” for the second straight year in 3.779 seconds at 328.54 miles per hour. Torrence trailed at 3.870, 327.43 mph.
Of the disappointment of coming so close and not being able to close the deal, the 40-year-old Texan said, “It’s hard, but I’ve
never been prouder of my guys. They swapped two engines in one round, the last one in just 21 minutes. That’s probably not possible, but they did it. There’s no one I’d rather go into this Countdown with than these guys. They’re just bad-to-the-bone.”
It was the sixth Indy final in the last 11 years for Torrence and his CAPCO boys, who now will move into the Countdown to the Championship in the No. 2 position, 30 points down to regular season champion Justin Ashley.
“The real racing starts now,” Torrence said. “We’re down a little more than a round, but now Antron’s right there, too. And you never know who might jump up and make a run. From here, it’s just whoever can put things together for six straight races
and, in that kind of scenario, I’ll take my guys any day.”
Torrence’s Labor Day began against 16th qualifier Will Smith, whom he dispatched easily with a 3.716 second effort. Things began to unravel in round two, however, when the 54-time tour winner beat Shawn Langdon with an engine-damaging
time of 4.086 seconds at only 230.61 mph.