DALLAS, Texas – Responding to the challenge posed by veteran Doug Kalitta, Steve Torrence went wire-to-wire Sunday at the Texas Motorplex, qualifying No. 1 and then driving his Capco Contractors dragster to a signature victory in the 35th annual AAA Texas FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex.
Torrence, whose 3.662 second effort earned him just his second No. 1 start of the season (the 26th of his career), was quickest in three of the four elimination rounds, winning with times of 3.704, 3.726, 3.720 and, finally, 3.716 seconds to beat his dad Billy in the fourth Torrence family final over the last two seasons.
Billy Torrence, who solidified his hold on fourth place in the driver standings, gave his son’s bid for a third straight Top Fuel title a big boost in the semifinals when he raced past Kalitta after the challenger had forged a slight lead at the start.
“That was huge,” admitted the younger Torrence, “My dad was a little late (reacting to the starting signal). I was, too (against Shawn Langdon). But those bad-to-the-bone Capco Boys pulled it out (with better performing race cars). I’m just thankful to the good Lord that we’re out here and we can do this. We’re having a blast.”
After dedicating Sunday’s victory to injured crew member Dom Lagana, Torrence thanked the partisan Texas fans, many of them Capco employees and first responder guests of the Texas-based Chris Kyle Frog Foundation for which Torrence has been an ambassador the last six years. He then called the Motorplex, the track built in 1986 by former Funny Car driver Billy Meyer, “the best place to race.”
Although he crashed heavily at the same track in 2017, ultimately losing the championship after being forced into a backup car, this was his second win in the last three seasons and it was the third straight Motorplex win for Torrence Racing.
When the tour moves south this week for the 33rd Mopar Express Lane Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park, the season’s next-to-last event, Torrence will lead Kalitta by 51 points, Leah Pruett by 148 and his dad by 166.
“I’ve said it multiple times – Doug Kalitta is probably the best driver who never won the championship,” Torrence said. “I have a ton of respect for him and for that team and I think that’s why they bring out the best in us.”Sunday’s victory was particularly meaningful for the two-time reigning series champ. Not only was it his 40th win in a relatively short pro career, it also was the first Top Fuel title awarded in the newly-branded NHRA Camping World Series.