‘OTHER’ TORRENCE WINS SONOMA
Dad Billy Ends Son Steve’s Final Round Streak with Semifinal Upset
SONOMA, Calif. — Billy Torrence denied son Steve’s bid to reach the final round of a 10th straight Mello Yello tour event Sunday, upsetting the reigning NHRA Top Fuel champion and current point leader in the semifinals of the 31st annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals and, in so doing, putting himself prominently back into contention for a berth in the upcoming Countdown to the Championship.
The elder Torrence, founder of Capco Contractors, Inc., the Texas-based oil and gas pipeline construction and maintenance business that utilizes drag racing as one of its marketing tools, beat his son in the semifinals before besting Clay Millican to win hoist the Top Fuel trophy for the third time in the last 12 months.
The final round numbers were 3.804 seconds at 320.20 miles per hour for Torrence, 3.842 seconds, 321.65 mph for Millican who a week ago was runner-up at Denver to the other Capco driver.
“It’s just gratifying to get out there and get a win over anybody,” Torrence said after beating his son for the first time in seven tries, “but to get a win against Steve, as good as they’ve been running, is really something.”
In the family feud, Billy’s 3.779 at 324.75 mph was good enough for the win by .043 of a second as Steve’s car apparently suffered some uncharacteristic internal engine damage, slowing to a finish line speed of 311.92 with white smoke pumping out of the header pipes on a car that lost for just the second time in the last 35 rounds.
Despite the loss, Steve Torrence will head to Seattle for this week’s 31st Cat Spot Northwest Nationals 572 points ahead of Millican and Antron Brown.
Meanwhile, Billy kept alive his hopes to getting one of the 10 starting spots in the playoffs. He trails Austin Prock and Terry McMillen, who presently share the No. 9 position, by just 31 points.
“We’re very blessed and fortunate to be able to race as a family. It’s very humbling. Like Steve always says, it’s all these talented people that work on these two race cars, that make it happen.”
Although he has raced in little more than half of the 15 races contested thus far, Billy has added a pair of victories to the eight won by Steve and next month will defend his title in the Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd, Minn.