GAINESVILLE, Fla. – It quickly is becoming apparent that if he is to successfully defend his Mello Yello Top Fuel Championship, Steve Torrence is going to have to find a way to get his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster to the finish line ahead of the Mac Tools machine of rival Doug Kalitta.
After negotiating a tricky new Gainesville Raceway track surface in a best-of-the-day 3.680 seconds to beat Dom Lagana in round one, Torrence’s hope of ending a career long victory drought in the Amalie Oil Gatornationals ended in the second round where Kalitta carved out a 3.703-3.709 decision that enabled him to even his career record against the reigning champ at 15-15.
“Those boys are always tough,” Torrence said. “Doug’s one of the best leavers in the business. He’s got me twice already this year and we’ve only been racing two months. The good thing is we got out of here in third place and now we’re headed to some races where we’ve done pretty good the last couple years.”
When qualifying for the Denso Spark Plugs Four-Wide Nationals begins on April 5 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the 36-year-old Torrence will trail Kalitta by 49 points and Leah Pritchett by seven.
Winner of 19 events over the last two-plus seasons, Torrence is the defending champion in two of the next three races in the NHRA series.
Torrence, who is from Kilgore, will take a break from racing and from Capco this Thursday when he will be recognized on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives in Austin for his championship-winning season in 2018.