Over the past two-and-a-half seasons, Steve Torrence has proven the best in the Top Fuel field on Sundays.
But that isn’t good enough. Torrence wants to be the best the rest of the weekend as well.
And he was just that Friday at Heartland Motorsports Park as the driver responsible for four-consecutive wins in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series was quickest in both sessions as he looks to earn his second top qualifier award of the season at the Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties.
“As far as being comfortable and confident in the car and knowing that the car is doing exactly what Richard (Hogan) and Bobby (Lagana) tell it to do and they are making the right calls on the track, it just makes you more comfortable getting in,” Torrence said. “It gives you a little more swagger and a little more confidence going into these sessions where you know that you can go to number one. And when you go out and go 80 flat on the first run and the next best car is an 83 and an 86, it gives you a sense of confidence unlike any other.”
Torrence was the quickest each time he took to the track on Friday, surviving an exciting duel with his father in both rounds to take the top spot. The Torrence family were 1-2 in both sessions, with son Steve getting the final say with a 3.760-second pass at 325.45 mph to top the field in the Capco Racing dragster. Billy was second with a 3.765 at 323.58 mph.
“It was really impressive to me to see what the cars in front of us were doing. To see Billy go out and go (3.765), I couldn’t help but chuckle when I saw (Richard) Hogan reach into the flow box and start turning the knobs a little bit. At that point I knew we were going for it,” Torrence said.
Austin Prock qualified third on Friday with a 3.783 at 315.42 mph, while Antron Brown (3.798) and Doug Kalitta (3.800) rounded out the top five.
In addition to earning a green hat, with a short field this weekend in the Top Fuel class, qualifying at the top means even more on Sunday with an added bye meaning one less round of work to advance.
“It is going to be an important weekend to be No. 1. This is a short field, so second round you get a bye if you can make it by that first round. So we are definitely gunning for that with the momentum that we have off of the last few races,” Torrence said. “We have been successful and we need to try to keep that momentum going and keep the ball rolling and see if we can keep this going.”
But Torrence is also aware of overconfidence, something he hopes to avoid as he seeks his fifth consecutive win and, amazingly, 16th trophy in his last 34 races.
“You don’t want to be overconfident going into Sunday,” Torrence said. “I’ve seen that before where we were low E.T. of every session and then smoke the tires first round and go home. We don’t want to do that. We need to keep working on our consistency and we will be fine.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019