Johnson City Press: Torrence looking to extend winning streak
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Torrence looking to extend winning streak

Jeff Birchfield • Jun 15, 2019 at 5:14 PM

BRISTOL — Steve Torrence will try to wrangle another victory Sunday at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

After winning six races in a row and sweeping the “Countdown to the Championship,” to win last year’s NHRA Top Fuel World Championship, Torrence is in the midst of another blistering streak, winning five races in a row before Bristol.

While others have struggled on hot, slick race tracks, the 36-year-old Texan keeps rocketing down the 1,000-feet drag strip.

“We’ve been fortunate to have the consistency and to have the breaks with the car when we’ve needed them,” Torrence said. “We’ve seen drastically changing conditions from cool and greasy set-ups. It’s just a testament to (crew chiefs) Richard Hogan, Bob Lagana and those guys in how well they adapt to the conditions.”

Now he’s racing on Father’s Day weekend, one week after beating his father, Billy, in the final at Topeka. Torrence, a cancer survivor who has 31 Top Fuel victories, reflected on a special week when father and son had the fastest cars all weekend.

“I’ve gotten a lot of flack that I was beating up on my dad,” he said. “We’ve had some really good races between us the last couple of years and I don’t think any of them have been more than a hundredth of a second at the stripe. So it’s been some really tight, close racing. It was a special race to go No. 1 and No. 2 on Saturday and then go to the final round Sunday. It was one of the most memorable moments of my racing career.”

A firm believer that success breeds confidence and vice versa, Torrence explained it works the better he drives, the more confidence he has. The crew has the confidence in him that he’s going to get the best out of the car every weekend.

It helps that he has a crew of guys with the majority his age that consider themselves a band of brothers.

But Bristol weekend is much about honoring fathers. Torrence, the 2013 Top Fuel winner at the Thunder Valley Nationals, wants to give his dad a NHRA Wally trophy as a Father’s Day present.

“It’s unbelievable to race at Bristol, how it lays out,” he said. “You hear the rumble, the thunder of Thunder Valley. I’ve won here once on Father’s Day. I’d love to continue the streak, continue this momentum and take a Wally home to Billy on Father’s Day.”

The consistency of getting down the track is why Torrence believes his team has been so hard to beat. It’s made a few of his rivals crack under the pressure. He has seen races lost at the starting line as well as with the tune-ups.

“You don’t have to be the quickest down the track every time,” he said. “If you force the guy beside you to make mistakes, that consistency puts pressure on other drivers to leave early on the tree or the crew chief to push harder or lay up when they shouldn’t. It definitely gets into other teams’ heads, although that’s not what we’re trying to do.

“We’re trying to run our race. If you race someone who goes down the track nine out of 10 times instead of 4-5 out of ten, you know you have to be on your A-game. When we run low e.t. when it is hot and tricky, it puts on more pressure. Right now, it’s the perfect storm where I have a good race car and I’m confident in myself. Richard is confident in me and in his tuning abilities. When all of that comes together it’s difficult to beat.”

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