TOPEKA, Kan. – Coming off three straight final rounds culminating in consecutive victories at Charlotte and Atlanta, Steve Torrence tries to ride a growing wave of momentum straight to the top of the Mello Yello driver standings this weekend when he sends his Capco Contractors dragster after the Top Fuel championship in the 29th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park-Topeka.
“The race car I have right now is the best race car I’ve ever had in my life,” admitted the young Texas businessman and team owner who, in 2005, won nine of 13 starts and posted a 37-4 record in a Top Alcohol Dragster in which he won the NHRA World Championship.
“When you’re confident in your race car, it makes you a better driver,” said the 34-year-old cancer survivor. “(Right now) I’m driving like a machine. (Crew chief) Richard Hogan is the key to that along with Bobby Lagana (Jr.), Justin Crosslin, Chris Martin, Mike Wingo, Cale Hood, Gary Pritchett. All those guys are family (and) I’ll put them up against anybody out there. I’ve really got a bad-ass group of guys.”
It’s a group the 10-time pro tour winner has managed to keep together for the last three seasons, providing the continuity it takes not only to win races but perhaps to claim a Mello Yello Championship.
“That’s the ultimate goal,” Torrence said of his title aspirations. “We’re motivated by the fact that this is a family race team. We run it out of our pockets and that speaks volumes about what you can achieve with hard work, dedication and a lot of heart. It gives all of us an extra sense of accomplishment to go out and be able to compete with the Don Schumacher Racing powerhouse.”
The only driver not employed by Schumacher who has won a Top Fuel race this season, Torrence has won three times in the last 13 races dating back to the start of last year’s Countdown. The only Top Fuel driver who has won more often is close friend and reigning and three-time World Champion Antron Brown, who has four wins during that span.
“When you’ve got a car this good, you just want to keep racing it every day,” he said.
See the finals live Sunday at 1 p.m. on Fox Sports 1; a re-broadcast airs at 6 p.m.