GAINESVILLE, Fla. – After an off-road adventure in which he partnered with Top Fuel rival and close friend Antron Brown at the Mint 400, Mello Yello point leader Steve Torrence returns to pavement this weekend where he will strap back into the cockpit of the 330 mile-an-hour Capco Contractors dragster to pursue his 10th win in the last 22 NHRA pro tour events.
Although he never has won in Florida, recent history, Torrence’s current point standing and an impressive victory three weeks ago at Phoenix, where he posted a career-best time of 3.655 seconds, have established the 34-year-old from Kilgore as the Top Fuel favorite in the 49th annual Amalie Oil Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.
Ironically, standing between him and a first Gatornationals title is his “Chocolate and Crème Racing” teammate, the man with whom he shared a Polaris RZR ride last week in the Nevada desert. Antron Brown not only is a three-time world champion, he also has been a personal nemesis to the indomitable Torrence with 25 wins in their 31 career meetings.
Nevertheless, after a 1-22 start against Brown, Torrence has won five of the last eight jousts including all three in final rounds. He hopes to extend that recent streak this weekend in an event in which he never has advanced beyond the semifinals.
Even though mechanical issues took Torrence-and-Brown out of the Mint 400 after 50 miles, the experience was exhilarating enough to compel the two drag racing stars to promise future “Chocolate and Crème” collaborations.
“What an awesome experience,” Torrence said afterward, “and a big thanks to Jim Beaver and Polaris RZR for having Antron and me out for the Minto 400. It was a damn good time. Round two is going to happen this year. I’m hooked. The meat hooks are in me for off-road racing!”
In the interim, the former Top Alcohol Dragster world champion (2005) will continue to chase his drag racing dream in a race car that has not started worse than No. 8 in its last 57 starts and has qualified either first or second 22 times during that span including both races this year.
Check out Torrence and the entire Gatornationals finals on Sunday on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), starting at 6 p.m.