Billy Wins AAA Texas Fall Nationals; Steve Leaves with Mello Yello Point Lead
DALLAS, Texas. – Billy Torrence won for the second time in the current Countdown to the Championship, for the fourth time this season and for the first time at the Texas Motorplex Sunday and, in so doing, took some of the sting out of son Steve’s loss in the opening round of the 34th annual AAA Texas FallNationals.
The 61-year-old Texan, who has been characterized as the tour’s best part-time professional, drove his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster past the similar machine of rookie Jordan Vandergriff in a somewhat bizarre final after beating No. 1 qualifier and track record holder Brittany Force a round earlier.
As a result, the founder and CEO of Capco, a Texas-based oil-and-gas pipeline and maintenance company, improved his record to a Countdown best 9-2 and moved from sixth to fourth in points after starting from the No. 10 position.
When the playoffs resume in two weeks, he will start just 71 points behind his son, who left the Motorplex as the Top Fuel point leader for the third straight year.
At an immediate disadvantage in the final round after an uncharacteristic loss of concentration, the father of the reigning series champion earned a come-from-behind triumph when Vandergriff’s car suffered mechanical problems. Torrence won in 3.775 seconds at 319.67 miles per hour.
“It was a very unusual deal,” said the winner. “I was going to deep stage to get a little better light and it threw my concentration off. I was sitting there long enough to see the other guy leave (but) we caught him pretty quick. He got in trouble about 300 feet (and) even though we didn’t have the best driver in the final, we did have the best car.”
Meanwhile, even though the younger Torrence suffered his second first round loss of the playoffs, he managed to retain the point lead he has held after 49 of the last 58 races. When racing begins Nov. 1 in the 19th annual Dodge Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he will lead Doug Kalitta by 33 points and Force by 46.
“It looks like it’s going to come down to the Finals,” Torrence said. “No excuses. We had a little mechanical issue (in the first round) but it went out and ran 3.73 and got we just got beat. Dad ran 3.73 in the same round and won (over Terry McMillen).
“We know we’re gonna get everybody’s best shot when they pull up beside us,” Torrence said, “and we wouldn’t want it any other way. We know we’ve got a good hot rod going to Las Vegas. So, we’ll just buckle up and get after it again.”