They always seem to do things bigger in Texas, and when it comes to NHRA drag racing, Steve Torrence is living proof of that.
The Longview, Texas native has absolutely demolished the Top Fuel ranks the last 18 months. He captured his first-ever championship last season after winning 11 of 2018’s 24 national events – including becoming the first driver in NHRA history to win all six races of the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Torrence has picked up where he left off from last year’s championship – winning six of the first 12 races in 2019 – and he potentially could wind up winning even more races this year than last.
Torrence has built a big lead in the Top Fuel standings – at 304 points over Doug Kalitta, that’s the equivalent of nearly three wins points-wise. He literally could take a couple of races off and not be too all that worse for the wear.
Now Torrence prepares for another race – and very likely, another win – in this weekend’s NHRA New England Nationals, July 5-7, at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire. He won there in last year’s race and he’s ready to make it back-to-back triumphs.
But like any smart Texan, Torrence is following the same playbook that he had throughout last season, never getting too far ahead of himself.
“That’s pretty good odds, but I really don’t want to think about that,” said Torrence, who has 33 career Top Fuel wins. “We’ll look at the points and the stats at the end of the season, and probably not look at them too hard then.
“That’s probably something you’ll look at when you finish your career and try to relish those moments. For now, we just want to keep moving forward. We just want to stay on our ‘A’ game and try to run with that through the end of the year.”
All told, Torrence has a combined 25 wins since the 2017 season. No one is even close.
One of the hallmarks of Torrence’s success is his steely eyes and ice in his veins. He is so determined to win that in many cases, he already has a race won before he even leaves the starting line.
For example: Torrence won five races in a row, lost to Mike Salinas at Bristol, Tennessee, and strongly rebounded to win June 23 in Norwalk, Ohio.
“It didn’t do anything to us mentally,” Torrence said of the final-round loss in Bristol. “You know at some point something’s going to happen even if everyone does their job perfectly. It’s racing.
“We just took the punches and came back out here. That’s all you can do. You go back out and race. We want to win every race we go to. You’re not trying to play strategy and get into the top 10. We want to win all of them. That’s the mindset that we have.
“You still want to win championships and we’re still motivated to go out there. Yeah, we’ve set some records and done some things that are neat and prestigious, but there’s always those guys that are ahead of you.
“There’s still a long ways to go and a lot of success we need to try to achieve to be in those ranks with Tony Schumacher and John Force, and the legends of the sport. We’re going to do as much as we can and enjoy it because at some point this ride will come to an end. We’re going to try to have a good time doing it.”
NOTES: 16-time Funny Car champion John Force continues his bid to finally earn a milestone 150th career win this weekend. … Qualifying for this weekend’s race takes place Friday at 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET, as well as Saturday at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. ET. Final eliminations begin Sunday at 11 a.m. ET.