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Steve Torrence’s Three-Peat Bid Falls Short in Brainerd

Despite a streak-ending second round loss to close friend Antron Brown Sunday at Brainerd International Raceway, Steve Torrence and his CAPCO Contractors team move on to the last race in the regular season, virtually assured of starting no worse than third in the Countdown to the Championship.

Despite his quarterfinal exit from Sunday’s 41st Lucas Oil Nationals, an event he had won the last two years and in which his dad, Billy Torrence, won his first Top Fuel trophy in 2018, the four-time World Champ remained solidly in second place in Camping World points.

With only the 69th annual Dodge U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park pending before points are adjusted for the playoffs, Torrence is 101 points behind pacesetting Toyota teammate Justin Ashley and 125 ahead of Brown, who leapfrogged reigning series champion Brittany Force Sunday to grab third place.

“We’ll just go to Indy and see what happens,” Torrence said.  “If we can get another trophy (he won the world’s oldest, largest and most prestigious drag race in 2017 and 2021 and has been runner-up on three other occasions), who knows what happens with the points.  Besides, the championship is still gonna come down to who does best in those last six (playoff) races.”

Since losing the 2017 championship to Force on the last day of the season, Torrence has become the unchallenged master of the Countdown.  In addition to being the only driver in any category to have swept all six races, which he did in 2018, he has compiled a stellar 63-13 record in the last four Countdowns (in addition to winning a non-Countdown title in the COVID-shortened 2020 season).

“There’s still a lot of racing to do and I know we’ve got a race car that can win every week,” Torrence said.  “Nobody I’d rather face the challenge with than these bad-to-the-bone CAPCO boys.”

Not that the 40-year-old Texas businessman has given up on winning an unprecedented fifth regular season championship.

“Indy pays one-and-half times as many points as any other race (in the regular season),” he said, “so that at least gives us a shot.”

Torrence is further encouraged by the fact that, over the last four races, he’s started no worse than fourth and has earned an average of five qualifying bonus points per event, best in the category.

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This story was originally published on August 21, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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Since 2005, DI has informed, inspired and educated drag racers from every walk of the racing life - weekend warrior and street/strip enthusiasts to pro-level doorslammer and Top Fuel racers. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-worthy videos to electric live events, DI meets hundreds of thousands of racers where they live, creating the moments that create conversations.