Steve Torrence sped to his third straight victory in the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge Saturday, guiding his CAPCO Contractors Top Fuel Toyota through the 1,000-foot course in 3.767 seconds at a finish line speed of 319.90 miles per hour to turn back Justin Ashley in what could be a prelude to a Sunday showdown in the 34th and final Menard’s Nationals at Heartland Motorsports Park.
Torrence will start Sunday from the No. 1 qualifying position for the 35th time in his pro career on the strength of a Friday night sprint in 3.764 seconds. It is the four-time World Champion’s 35th No. 1 start but his since Oct. 2 last year at St. Louis.
In earning eight qualifying bonus points, one shy of the maximum possible in an event with only three sessions, the 40-year-old resident of Kilgore, Texas, moved to within 28 points of a Top Fuel point lead he and Ashley have swapped for most of the regular season. He will oppose No. 16 qualifier Terry Totten in the first round.
“This CAPCO bunch is awesome,” Torrence said. “They’ve worked their butts off to get us back to where we were a couple years ago – and we’re getting’ closer. Consistency wins championships, and that, along with being quick, is what we pride ourselves in. We’re going to do the best we can to keep this up.”
“Justin Ashley has shown himself to be a fierce competitor and he’s got a good team over there,” Torrence said of his fellow Team Toyota driver. “Admittedly, we’ve not been the CAPCO boys of the past (but) we’re doing the best we can to get back to that. (The way the car has been running the last few events) gives me a lot of confidence and makes me feel excited about the rest of the year.
“We’re building momentum at the right time,” he said. “The big thing is picking up bonus points throughout the (qualifying) rounds. That’s key; that’s crucial. We need to pick up those points and we need to keep getting those tortilla challenge points. Justin had built a bit of a lead (after winning five of the first six #2Fast2Tasty Challenges), but we’re cutting that down. Those Mission points are going to be crucial. I won a championship by just three points (in 2019). It’ll be a big deal at the end.”