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Texan Steve Torrence secures his first Top Fuel victory at Texas Motorplex

by Mike Haag | Posted on Sunday, October 7th, 2018

ENNIS, Texas – For years NHRA drag racer Steve Torrence has always dreamed about winning a Top Fuel race at the Texas Motorplex.

Steve Torrence. NHRA Photo

Sunday afternoon at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals, Torrence’s dream came true when the 35-year old resident of Kilgore and cancer survivor outraced Terry McMillen to win his third straight NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Top Fuel race.

“We were just here to go rounds,” Torrence said.  “I don’t have a Top Fuel championship. I have a Top Alcohol championship and the year that I won that I won at Dallas. So, we’ve been trying to get this done since 2010 (when he made his first Top Fuel appearance in the Fall Nationals).  

After qualifying No. 2 at 3.743 seconds, 328.14 miles per hour, Torrence faced Bill Litton in the opening rounds of eliminations.  He marched his way to the finals by defeating Bill Litton, Blake Alexander, and eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher.  McMillen reached the finals by beating Mike Salinas, Brittany Force and the No. 1 qualifier Clay Millican.

Steve Torrence. NHRA Photo

“I dropped the ball in the final,” Torrence said.  “I was late on the Tree (the electronic ‘Christmas Tree’ starting system that flashes green to start each two-car race).  I knew I was late.  I could hear him the whole way but near the end there, I started reeling him in.”

Torrence had a winning run in the finals in his Capco Contractors dragster that was clocked at 3.786-seconds at 325.92 mph.  McMillen crossed the stripe in 3.826 at 321.04.

It was Torrence’s eighth victory of the season and 24th of his career. He has won 16 of the last 40 NHRA Top Fuel races.

“Last year, we didn’t get it done,” Torrence said.  “We ran into the wall.  But this year we finally get that cowboy hat (awarded to winners of the Fall Nationals) and the party is going to be big tonight.  These Capco boys are bad ass hombres and I’m just lucky to be the guy behind the wheel.”

Steve Torrence deploys the braking parachutes on the Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster after winning Sunday’s AAA Texas Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex. Photo by Mark Rebilas

Twelve months ago Torrence slammed his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster into the guardwall at the Texas Motorplex at more than 320 miles per hour.  Not only did he destroy his dragster but also his chances of winning the NHRA Top Fuel Championship.

 “These Capco guys, I can’t say enough about them,” Torrence said.  “Every one of them, they’ve got my back.  When you go up there knowing that you can slap the biggest guy in the bar and probably come out unscathed, it makes you feel good.  Honestly, that’s the mindset I have.  If I go up there and just do my job, I know I have a race car that can win every time.

“That’s really taken the pressure off.  I had fun during the regular season, but now it’s ‘Katy, bar the door.’  We’re here to take care of unfinished business.  We felt like we got robbed last year (losing the championship to Brittany Force on the final day of the season) and we’re doing everything we possibly can to not let that happen (again).  At the end of the day, we’re just going to continue to try to do the best job that we can and let the good Lord handle the rest.”

Steve Torrence reacts to winning Sunday at his home track, the Texas Motorplex, for the first time since moving up to the Top Fuel class. Photo by Mark Rebilas

If Torrence does win the 2018 NHRA Top Fuel championship, he will become the first driver in NHRA history to win series titles in both the Alcohol and Fuel divisions.

“This is a check off my bucket list,” Torrence said.  “To be able to come to Dallas with all my friends and family and everyone from Capco supporting us and finally win.  I couldn’t be prouder.”   

Torrence heads to the next race at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, N.C. with a 103-point lead over Clay Millican.  Tony Schumacher is 62 points back in third, followed by his Don Schumacher Racing teammates Leah Pritchett and Antron Brown.  Rounding out the top 10 are Terry McMillen, Doug Kalitta, Mike Salinas, Brittany Force and Scott Palmer.


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.

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