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Torrences Out Early at Charlotte

Jason Zindroski photo

An uncharacteristic qualifying performance sent drag racing’s “King of the Quads,” four-time Top Fuel World Champion Steve Torrence, to an early exit Sunday in the 14th NHRA 4Wide Nationals at ZMax Dragway, a race he had won four times in his previous six starts.

As the No. 10 qualifier, Torrence found himself in one of the least favored lanes for a first round in which his CAPCO Contractors Toyota failed to advance despite making its best run of the weekend at 3.729 seconds, 334.07 miles per hour.

While it was a solid effort – and an improvement in both time and speed, it wasn’t quite good enough in a quad that included three other former world champions.

Torrence crossed the line .034 of a second behind quad winner Antron Brown and .004 behind Brittany Force.  Shawn Langdon finished fourth.

It was a disappointing result for the 41-year-old Torrence, who has won more quads, raced in more final quads and won more four-wide events than any other pro driver, regardless of category.

“Obviously, we’ve got some work to do to get back to where we want to be,” said the 54-time tour winner.  “But we’ve learned how to play the game.  All we’re doing here is setting up for the Countdown.  We’ll just go to Chicago and try to do a little better.”

When qualifying begins May 17 in the Gerber Collision and Glass Route 66 Nationals in Chicago, the talented Texan will trail point leader Justin Ashley by 139 points and Langdon, who occupies third place, by 33.

While the younger Torrence had a rough outing on the all-concrete track on which he had won six times in the last seven years, dad Billy celebrated his 66th birthday by taking the second CAPCO Toyota to the second quad in just his second four-across appearance at ZMax.

At the wheel of a dragster tuned by Jason McCulloch and Joe Barlam, the founder and CEO of CAPCO, the Texas-based oil and gas pipeline construction company, ran 3.755, 3.716, 3.760 and 3.732 in qualifying before stopping the timers in 3.725 seconds to advance from the first quad.

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Unfortunately, that was as far as he could go insomuch as a loss of traction slowed him to 4.544 seconds in the second quad from which Clay Millican and Doug Kalitta moved on.  Racing the entire series for the first time in his pro career, he will  start the Chicago race one position and 29 points behind his son.

This story was originally published on April 28, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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