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Steve Torrence Seeks Fourth Win in World’s Biggest Drag Race

On drag racing’s biggest stage, few drivers have delivered excellence with greater consistency than four-time World Champion Steve Torrence, driver of the CAPCO Contractors Top Fuel Toyota.

In 23 career races at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, site this week of the 69th annual NHRA U.S. Nationals, the 40-year-old Texan has advanced to 11 final rounds and won six times.

He was the winner of the final Traxxas Shootout and the first Pep Boys Call Out, both contested at IRP, as well as of the 2020 Dodge Nationals, one of three special events contested during a season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But it is in the track’s signature event, the U.S. Nationals, the world’s oldest, largest and most prestigious drag race, that his star has shone most brightly.

In his last 10 appearances, he has ridden a stellar 22-8 individual record to two wins (2017 and 2021) and three runner-up finishes, which is why, even though he trails Justin Ashley by 101 points, no one is discounting his chances of winning an unprecedented fifth regular season championship, especially with half again as many points available this weekend as at any other event outside of the Countdown.

Despite all his Top Fuel success, Torrence set the bar exceedingly high long before he logged his first 300 mile per hour finish line speed.  In 2005, in what would be his only IRP start in a Top Alcohol dragster, he beat former and future NHRA Top Fuel winners Gene Snow and Hillary Will in the final two rounds on the way to a U.S. Nationals victory that helped propel him to the Lucas Oil Series championship.

After going 1-3 in his first three Indy starts in Top Fuel, he hit his stride in 2013 when he reached the final round not only of “The Big Go,” but also of the companion Traxxas Shootout.  Even though didn’t he collect either trophy, the performance instilled in him a level of confidence that would carry him to four straight World Championships beginning in 2018 when he became the first and only driver to sweep the six races in the Countdown.

“When you win Indy, you know you’ve done something special,” Torrence said, “you haven’t just beaten the best, you’ve beaten the best at their best because everybody gets up for Indy.

“I can’t say enough about my guys,” gushed the 54-time tour winner in reference to crew chiefs Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr. and the rest of the group he calls his “CAPCO boys.” “They’ve given me a bad-to-the-bone hot rod. I couldn’t be more proud and I wouldn’t want to go into this battle with anyone else.”

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Overall, in the U.S. Nationals and all the aforementioned bonus races in Top Alcohol and Top Fuel, Torrence has won 70 percent of his two-car races (43-18) at Indy and beaten 29 different opponents. He’ll try to enhance that resume starting with a single Top Fuel qualifying session at 7 p.m. Friday. Qualifying will continue Saturday at 3:30 and 7 p.m. and conclude
Sunday with sessions at 2:15 and 5:30 p.m. Eliminations begin with the first round of Top Fuel racing at 11 a.m. Monday.

This story was originally published on August 30, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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