September 11. 2017 —
Following a successful 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season, Top Fuel’s Steve Torrence doesn’t plan on changing much in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. Considering that recipe for success includes seven victories, nine final rounds, a Traxxas Shootout win and the points lead, that certainly makes the most sense.
With his latest victory coming at the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals and with a win at zMAX Dragway already to his credit in 2017, Torrence feels confident heading into this weekend’s NHRA Carolina Nationals at the state-of-the-art facility. His 10,000-horsepower Capco Contractors Inc. dragster has been dialed in all season, and Torrence fully expects to keep pushing forward at the Countdown to the Championship opener.
“That’s been our main objective, get the car where we want it and don’t change it,” said Torrence, who is seeking his first world championship. “We’ve found a recipe for success and the car has done what we’ve told it to. I’m confident in the car, my team and myself. I don’t mean this in a negative context, but I’m not concerned about anybody but us. The way we’re going, I feel like we’re going to do the best we can and it’s up to them to beat us. It’s a difficult mindset to get into and stay in, but with the way everything has gone, I’m confident in where we’re at.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Chip Ellis (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including live final eliminations coverage starting at 2:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Sept. 17. It is the 19th of 24 races during the 2017 season and the first event in the NHRA’s six-race playoffs, creating a sense of urgency for championship contenders to start off well.
That includes Torrence, who will have a 20-point lead over back-to-back world champion Brown heading into Charlotte. There’s a bevy of talented title challengers behind him as well, with Leah Pritchett, Tony Schumacher and Doug Kalitta sitting 30, 40 and 50 points back, respectively. But like he’s proven all year, Torrence is ready for the challenge. His seven victories have all come in the last 13 races and the talented Texan insists that razor-sharp focus won’t let up now.
“We’ve all kept each other moving forward and motivated,” said Torrence, who has 15 career victories. “I wouldn’t say anything this year has been easy, but I don’t think we’ve lost focus at all, either. If anything, it’s probably just made us focus and concentrate harder, especially winning in Indy the way we did. It’s a true testament to my guys and how driven they are. We’re in the best position we can possibly be and I’m excited about that.”
Torrence’s impressive driving, along with a team, led by crew chiefs Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana that has meshed remarkably well makes for a potent combo heading into the Countdown to the Championship. His victory at the Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway was his first of the regular season, and Torrence wouldn’t mind kicking off the playoffs in a similar fashion.
“It really does give you confidence,” Torrence said. “Any of the track where you’ve got good info and have had success, you enjoy going back to. I’m excited to go back there. We just want to go, keep doing what we’ve been doing and keep the ball rolling. We’ve got the hottest Top Fuel car there is right now and we want to keep that rolling. Everybody is on the same page and we’re going to try to hang onto that lead.”