KILGORE, Texas (KETK) – Kilgore native and two-time reigning NHRA drag-racing champion Steve Torrence gets back into a race car Saturday when the Top Fuel circuit resumes competition with the E3 Spark Plugs Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, Ind.
While the East Texan stayed pretty busy during the four-and-a-half month COVID-19 hiatus, he’s ready to continue chasing a potential three-peat.
“We’re super excited and ready to go back. I mean it’s been the longest time span in my whole career of racing that I’ve gone without actually being in a race car. It’s a little nervous because you know I haven’t done it in a while. And you climb back in that thing and you ready to go. But you don’t want to make those normal mistakes,” said Torrence.
Torrence got married during the Coronavirus shutdown and concentrated on the business side of Capco Contractors, his family’s construction company that focuses on the oil and natural gas industry.
While the 37-year old tried his best to stay in shape physically, his first practice run since February behind the wheel of a dragster didn’t come until Thursday’s test runs in Indy.
“There’s no replacement for being in a top-fuel car. It’s so unlike anything else that you can do. I mean it’s just the force of six-G’s of a race-car pulling on you. I made a pass yesterday. I’m sore a little bit sore today just because my body hasn’t been beaten up like that time after time,” said Torrence.
He says recovery from round to round will be key if by Sunday he wants to come away with his 38th career victory.
But as he looks at the rest of the 2020 season, it’ll be a bit different.
There will be no Countdown to the Mello Yello Championship.
All 18 races will count towards the top-prize, which will simply go to the overall points leader at the end. Torrence prefers it that way, and wishes it was like that every year.
“You change your game plan and you really concentrate on every race as opposed to just making it into the count-down and racing really hard for those last six. So I think that it’s more indicative of a true season champion, meaning that you had to go everywhere in various conditions and be successful as opposed to just those last six races,” said Torrence.
As a cancer and heart attack survivor, Torrence is in the high risk category when it comes to COVID-19. But he is confident that his team, and his family, along with the NHRA’s parameters, will help him stay safe.
In a unique campaign and situation, Torrence is as motivated as ever to bring back to East Texas a third consecutive world title.
Watch the video to see the story.
Torrence Racing Press Release Below:
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – After a four-and-a-half-month hiatus during which he got married, celebrated a birthday, reconnected with friends and family and focused his energy on Torrence Land and Cattle Co., the business to which he likely will gravitate once his racing career is done, Steve Torrence climbs back into the cockpit of his Capco Contractors dragster this weekend as the Top Fuel favorite in the E3 Spark Plugs Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway.
“When you’re racing every week, there’s only so much you can do,” Torrence said, “so the time off was good from that respect because we got to do a lot of things we wouldn’t have done otherwise. We got to do things on the ranch, working cattle, a little team roping, boating, lots of outdoor stuff that my wife Natalie and I both enjoy.
“Ropin’ has become one of my passions,” he admitted. “Going head-to-head with Tuf Cooper (a National Finals Rodeo World Champion) was a heck of a lot of fun, but for the last couple weeks I’ve been really ready to go back racing.”
Indeed, while he had no problem filling his dance card during the break mandated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 37-year-old cancer survivor has grown increasingly anxious to rejoin crew chiefs Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr. and his other “Capco Boys” in pursuit of a third consecutive Mello Yello world championship.
In his eyes, the crew that prepares and maintains his dragster is the best in the business, a premise supported by the fact that Team Capco has celebrated 35 wins in its last 75 tour starts dating to 2016, the most recent coming in last February’s Arizona Nationals, the last event completed before racing was suspended.
“It’s like any sport, any business, anything you see that is successful,” Torrence said of his team. “It doesn’t take all-stars to do it. Not that we don’t have all-stars, because we do, but really it just takes a great group of guys that works well together.
“We have basically the same guys we started with when we started Torrence Racing and that continuity and cohesiveness is huge,” he said. “When they’re working on that race car, they’re not talking and they’re certainly not worrying about what the other guy is doing because each and every one of them trusts and knows that that other guy has got his job done and that if they need help, he’ll be there for them.”
Torrence’s record at Lucas Oil Raceway, which hosts the first two races in the revised schedule, is an imposing one. In 16 races at the Indy track (in both Top Fuel and Top Alcohol), the talented Texan has gone to the final round eight times with three wins including one in the final Traxxas Nitro Shootout bonus race ever contested.
“Anytime you’re at Indy, it’s special,” said the man who’s won 37 NHRA tour events since putting the team together in 2012, “so I can’t think of any place better to jump-start the rest of the season.”
The sport’s dominant driver will be joined this week by his dad Billy, a formidable challenger in his own right at the wheel of a second Capco Contractors entry.
“My dad is probably one of my biggest rivals,” Torrence admitted. “We’re both really competitive, no matter what it is. Plus, I live across the street from him (in Kilgore, Texas) and I work with him six days a week (at Capco, the family-owned oil-and-gas pipeline construction and maintenance business).
“So, the deal is, all the guys at the office, they really want him to kick my butt so they can give me crap about it all week,” he laughed. “’Aw, hell,’ they tell me, ‘if your dad was to race all the time, he’d kick your butt all the time.’”
In fact, racing only a part time schedule, the elder Torrence finished fifth in the 2019 Top Fuel driver standings, winning four times and beating his son in the final round of the AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals at St. Louis. Moreover, he is the track record holder for speed at Lucas Oil Raceway at 333.33 miles per hour.
Mello Yello Championship Points (after two events)
1. Doug Kalitta, Saline, Mich., Mac Tools dragster 212
2. Brittany Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Monster/Flav-R-Pak dragster 153
3. Leah Pruett, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., MOPAR dragster 137
4. Austin Prock, Avon, Ind., Montana Brand/Rocky Mountain Twist dragster 131
5. Steve Torrence, Kilgore, Texas, Capco Contractors dragster 121
6. Justin Ashley, Plainview, N.Y., Strutmasters dragster 108
7. Antron Brown, Pittsboro, Ind., Matco Tools dragster 103
8. Shawn Langdon, Danville, Ind., Global Electronic Technology dragster 91
9. Clay Millican, Drummonds, Tenn., Parts Plus dragster 85
10. Shawn Reed, Lake Tapps, Wash., Hughes Oilfield Supply dragster 83
11. Billy Torrence, Kilgore, Texas, Capco Contractors dragster 75
Steve Torrence 2020 Race Results
Date Site Qualify Competition Detail Position
2/9 Pomona, CA Did Not Participate NA
2/23 Phoenix, AZ 2nd Beat Jim Maroney, Shawn Langdon, Billy Torrence 5th
and Doug Kalitta
* * * *
2020 NHRA Mello Yello Series
July 19 Lucas Oil Summernationals Indianapolis, Ind.
Aug. 9 Dodge Mile-High Nationals Denver, Colo.
Aug. 16 Lucas Oil Nationals Brainerd, Minn.
Aug. 23 Menard’s Heartland Nationals Topeka, Kan.
Aug. 30 NHRA Southern Nationals Atlanta, Ga.
Sept. 6 Denso U.S. Nationals Indianapolis, Ind.
* * * *
Steve Torrence at Lucas Oil Raceway
In the U.S. Nationals:
No. Starts: 10
No. 1 Qualifier: 0
Final Rounds: 4 (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017)
Race Wins: 1 (2017)
Won-Lost Record: 16-9
Also: Won the Top Alcohol Dragster trophy in 2005 en route to the Lucas Oil World Championship
In the Traxxas Top Fuel Shootout:
No. Starts: 5
Final Rounds:3 (2012, 2013, 2017)
Race Wins: 1 (2017)
Won-Lost Record: 7-4
Track Records Steve’s Best at Lucas Oil Raceway
3.645 seconds by Brittany Force, Aug. 31, 2019 3.656 seconds, Aug. 31, 2019
333.33 mph by Billy Torrence, Aug. 31, 2019 331.12 mph, Aug. 31, 2019