Share this:

" />

Texas drag racer Steve Torrence hits jackpot in Las Vegas

by Mike Haag | Posted on Sunday, October 30th, 2016
To the victor go the spoils. Steve Torrence shows off the hardware he collected after winning Sunday's 16th annual Toyota Nationals at Las Vegas. Photo by Mark Rebilas

To the victor go the spoils. Steve Torrence shows off the hardware he collected after winning Sunday’s 16th annual Toyota Nationals at Las Vegas. Photo by Mark Rebilas

 

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Steve Torrence added an exclamation point to an already spectacular season Sunday with a flawless performance that propelled his Capco Contractors/Rio Ammunition Top Fuel dragster to a statement win in the 16th annual Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

A final round victory over J.R. Todd pushed the 33-year-old Texan past Doug Kalitta and into second place in points behind Antron Brown who, by advancing to the semifinals, clinched his second straight Mello Yello championship and third in five years.

Steve Torrence, foreground, celebrates in the winners' circle after the 16th annual Toyota Nationals along with fellow inner John Force, back right. Photo by Mark Rebilas

Steve Torrence, foreground, celebrates in the winners’ circle after the 16th annual Toyota Nationals along with fellow inner John Force, back right. Photo by Mark Rebilas

“The goal always is to win the championship,” Torrence said, “but if you can’t do that, then you want to finish as high as you can.  Second place would be huge but it’s way too early to celebrate.  There’s one more race (the 52nd annual Auto Club of Southern California Finals at Pomona, Calif.) and our plan is to go win that one, too.”

It’s been a banner season for Torrence, who already has set personal single season records for final rounds (8), No. 1 starts (8) and rounds won (34).  Significantly, Sunday’s win also enabled him to even his career record in the Top Fuel division at 153-153.

Those are remarkable numbers, especially when one considers the fact that he was only 24-46 with no final round appearances when he decided in 2012 to form his own team.  Since doing so, he has won eight times and finished in the Top 10 every season.

Steve Torrence drives the "Breast Cancer Awareness" version of the Capco Contractors/Rio Ammunition Top Fuel dragster to victory Sunday in the 16th annual Toyota Nationals at Las Vegas. Photo by Mark Rebilas

Steve Torrence drives the “Breast Cancer Awareness” version of the Capco Contractors/Rio Ammunition Top Fuel dragster to victory Sunday in the 16th annual Toyota Nationals at Las Vegas. Photo by Mark Rebilas

“We made a really good first (qualifying) run and that gave (crew chief Richard) Hogan a baseline.  He made great calls on Sunday.  We were quickest in every round but the second.  The only guy who could screw it up was me.  I wasn’t about to do that today.”

Torrence stopped Aussie nemesis Richie Crampton in round one but had to run quick time of the round (3.730) to do so.  In round two, the margin over Kalitta was a scant .002 of a second.  A .047 of a second starting line advantage was the difference against Leah Pritchett in the semifinals.  Against Todd, he again was the first to react and his 3.734 was more than enough to cover Todd’s 3.762.

Sunday’s performance was particularly impressive considering the fact that the cancer survivor never before had gone beyond the second round at the Toyota Nationals.  Apparently, his Vegas luck finally has changed.

“It’s pretty gratifying to be a family race team out here running against the big dogs,” said the 2005 NHRA champion in the Top Alcohol Dragster division.  “Our goal when we formed this team in 2012 was to compete for the championship.  The only thing left now is to come back and win the championship.”

 

 

About the Author

Mike Haag has covered motorsports in San Antonio and South Texas for more than 30 years. In addition to working for the San Antonio Express-News for nearly 28 years, Mike also has co-hosted TrackSmack with Dawn Murphy for 15 race seasons. In addition to being a writer, Mike also teaches English at Floresville High School.