With a semifinal finish already tucked away after the first race of NHRA’s Western Swing in Denver, Steve Torrence and his traveling Torrence Racing/Capco Contractors Inc. Top Fuel crew are breathing easier as they prepare for the Sonoma Nationals at the scenic raceway in the Sonoma wine country.
By the time qualifying begins Friday for the three-day event, all the mechanical changes made for last Sunday’s mile-high race will be tucked away for another year and crew chief Richard Hogan will have his sea-level tuning combinations in place.
“It will be good to get back to racing in conditions we are more accustomed to,” said Torrence. “There is one thing for certain . . . we aren’t going to sweep the Western Swing,” he added with a laugh. “But we will do the best we can to get a win in Sonoma. We still have a chance to win two of the Swing races.”
Sunday’s performance was another confidence booster for the first-year team that has won twice (Atlanta and Englishtown, N.J.) in four final rounds. He defeated Shawn Langdon and Doug Kalitta before losing to Antron Brown, the eventual race winner.
Torrence is fourth in points and climbed within 40 of third-place Tony Schumacher (990-950) as the drivers jockey for top-10 berths leading into the Countdown to 1 title showdown that begins Sept. 16 in Charlotte, N.C. Brown won the race and is second (1,060). Spencer Massey is the leader with 1,071.
As Hogan finessed the tune-ups, Torrence has honed his skills. He has a 23-11 round-win record and has reduced the number of first-round losses to just three. After his last first-round exit, he went to the finals in back-to-back races at Chicago and Norwalk, Ohio.
This is Torrence’s second Top Fuel appearance at Sonoma. He won one round in 2010 driving for another team.
The Swing’s last stop is in Seattle, Aug. 3-5.