KENT, Washington – After an phenomenal 2018 season that saw him win eleven races – including all six countdown races – to win his first NHRA Top Fuel championship, Steve Torrence is easily the top favorite to claim the Top Fuel title once again this season.
The driver of the No. 1 Capco entry enters the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways with a whopping 572-point lead over Clay Millican in the Top Fuel points standings, having won eight of the 15 events so far this season.
Already a lock-in for the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s playoff system, Torrence could simply take it easy through the next three rounds if he really wanted to, but that isn’t the 36-year-old Texan’s style. For him, the goal every weekend remains the same: to reach the finals and win.
“We take every round every weekend with the same intensity and focus,” Torrence told NBC Sports. “We try to go out here and do the best that we can. Ultimately, it’s all in the good Lord’s hands of how it’s going to pan out, but we just got to do our best to control our own destiny and go out and just race hard and race well. That’s all you really can do.”
Success will mean even more to Torrence points wise when the Countdown for the Championship begin in September. Once the Countdown starts, Torrence will see his lead shrink to only 20 points over second place, meaning that losing the championship is still a possibility should he experience misfortune in one of the six playoff events, something he believes is unfair.
“Honestly, I’m not a fan of the points system,” Torrence said. “Really, they [the NHRA] put more of an emphasis on the countdown than maybe there should be.
“We’re still locked in and focused, but in the countdown, they’re going to throw everything away that you’ve accomplished at this point, so we’re just going to try to continue moving forward and maintain that consistency.”
However, with a Top Fuel title already in his name, Torrence admits that there is less pressure to win a second time around now that he’s proven to others, as well as himself, that he has what it takes to become a champion, but that doesn’t change the fact that he remains just as hungry to win title number two.
“Everybody out here races with aspirations of winning a race or winning a championship,” Torrence said. “When you achieve that, it doesn’t change your aspirations. You still want to do it again because you’re only a champion for a year.
“You’ll be a champion for life, but you only get to wear that No.1 for that one year and then you have to earn it again, so that’s what we’re trying to do.”