Despite a narrow semifinal loss in Sunday’s 23rd annual NHRA Nevada Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, four-time World Champion Steve Torrence managed to drive his CAPCO Contractors Top Fuel Toyota back into the Camping World point lead with just one race remaining in the Countdown to the Championship.
When qualifying begins Nov. 10 in the 58th In-N-Out Burger Finals at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip in California, the 40-year-old Texan will lead Doug Kalitta by 15 points, Leah Pruett by 34, Sunday winner Mike Salinas by 76 and regular season champ Justin Ashley by 82 in an event that awards one-and-a-half times as many points as any other in the Countdown.
The No. 2 qualifier at 3.683 seconds, Torrence took out Clay Millican in the first round and stopped reigning series champion Brittany Force in the second before dropping a narrow .011 of a second decision to Ashley in the semifinals as the latter’s .036 reaction time proved to be too much to overcome.
The semifinal loss brought an end to the 54-time tour winner’s streak of having won at least one tour event in seven straight Octobers. Three of those victories came in the Las Vegas Nationals.
Torrence and his CAPCO teammates now will turn their attention to the In-N-Out Finals, an event they have won two times in their last four starts and for which they have qualified their hot rod Toyota either first or second four straight times.
“Good to be back in the points lead,” Torrence said. “We’re going to the Finals with a fast hot rod but this thing obviously is going down to the wire. I’m just lucky to have these bad-to-the-bone CAPCO boys watching my back.”