CONCORD, NC – September 11, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Following a successful 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season, Top Fuel’s Steve Torrence doesn’t plan on changing much in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. Considering that recipe for success includes seven victories, nine final rounds, a Traxxas Shootout win and the points lead, that certainly makes the most sense.
With his latest victory coming at the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals and with a win at zMAX Dragway already to his credit in 2017, Torrence feels confident heading into this weekend’s NHRA Carolina Nationals at the state-of-the-art facility. His 10,000-horsepower Capco Contractors Inc. dragster has been dialed in all season, and Torrence fully expects to keep pushing forward at the Countdown to the Championship opener.
“That’s been our main objective, get the car where we want it and don’t change it,” said Torrence, who is seeking his first world championship. “We’ve found a recipe for success and the car has done what we’ve told it to. I’m confident in the car, my team and myself. I don’t mean this in a negative context, but I’m not concerned about anybody but us. The way we’re going, I feel like we’re going to do the best we can and it’s up to them to beat us. It’s a difficult mindset to get into and stay in, but with the way everything has gone, I’m confident in where we’re at.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Chip Ellis (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including live final eliminations coverage starting at 2:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Sept. 17. It is the 19th of 24 races during the 2017 season and the first event in the NHRA’s six-race playoffs, creating a sense of urgency for championship contenders to start off well.
That includes Torrence, who will have a 20-point lead over back-to-back world champion Brown heading into Charlotte. There’s a bevy of talented title challengers behind him as well, with Leah Pritchett, Tony Schumacher and Doug Kalitta sitting 30, 40 and 50 points back, respectively. But like he’s proven all year, Torrence is ready for the challenge. His seven victories have all come in the last 13 races and the talented Texan insists that razor-sharp focus won’t let up now.
“We’ve all kept each other moving forward and motivated,” said Torrence, who has 15 career victories. “I wouldn’t say anything this year has been easy, but I don’t think we’ve lost focus at all, either. If anything, it’s probably just made us focus and concentrate harder, especially winning in Indy the way we did. It’s a true testament to my guys and how driven they are. We’re in the best position we can possibly be and I’m excited about that.”
Torrence’s impressive driving, along with a team, led by crew chiefs Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana that has meshed remarkably well makes for a potent combo heading into the Countdown to the Championship. His victory at the Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway was his first of the regular season, and Torrence wouldn’t mind kicking off the playoffs in a similar fashion.
“It really does give you confidence,” Torrence said. “Any of the track where you’ve got good info and have had success, you enjoy going back to. I’m excited to go back there. We just want to go, keep doing what we’ve been doing and keep the ball rolling. We’ve got the hottest Top Fuel car there is right now and we want to keep that rolling. Everybody is on the same page and we’re going to try to hang onto that lead.”
Ron Capps will again take the Funny Car points lead into Charlotte, looking to repeat last year’s title run, while defending event winner Force will look for a late-season surge.
Line’s Pro Stock title defense continues in Charlotte, but he will have to chase down top drivers like No. 1 seed and points leader Bo Butner, rookie Tanner Gray, who has four wins, and teammate Greg Anderson.
Ellis’ Pro Stock Motorcycle win help spur a fifth-place finish for the veteran a year ago, but everyone is chasing former world champ LE Tonglet, who has five victories in 2017.
The NHRA Carolina Nationals also features thrilling competition in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series, as well as the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. After Nitro qualifying, fans can watch spectacular jet cars. Larsen Motorsports’ four jet dragsters sponsored by Florida Tech, Matrix System Automotive Finishes, Halo Technology, and the American Dream, will make exhibition passes. As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 2:45 and 5:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 16, at 12:45 and 3:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 17.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-455-FANS (3267). Tickets also available at www.zmaxdragway.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For info about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association