MORRISON — Top fuel points leader Steve Torrence has a real job. Torrence, who has won the last two events heading into this weekend’s Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway and was No. 1 Friday in the first qualifying session, is among eight in-office employees for Capco Contractors Inc., a modest pipeline company in Henderson, Texas. His father, Billy Torrence, founded Capco in 1995, when Steve was 12.
The family business and racing defines Steve Torrence, who has won five of 13 races and is 33-8 on Sundays in his breakout year. Torrence made a 3.707-second pass at a top speed of 322.04 mph to collect top fuel’s provisional pole early in Colorado’s 38th annual NHRA event. He later went 3.775 (323.97 mph) in the last pass of the night, and stands second to Doug Kalitta (3.767, 323.97).
“To be able to come out and do this as a family run operation, self-funded, and have the success we’re having, it makes you proud of what you are and where you come from,” Torrence said during a rain delay in Friday’s first qualifying session. “I worked this morning at Capco and then flew here at lunch. I fly to the races on Friday and fly home on Sunday nights. I’m at work on Monday.”
Torrence, 34, owns his single-car team, which is sponsored by Capco. But Torrence admits there is little advertising or marketing benefits for Capco to be the lead sponsor.
“We don’t need to advertise here to get business,” he said. “We use it as an entertainment tool. We take some of the people that we work with and bring them out to the races. It’s hospitality and appreciation. I’ve taken people hunting. I’ve taken people to the races. My dad calls me the ‘Ambassador of Entertainment.’ ”
He added: “There’s a few companies that are involved with us that we are really proud to represent. But we’re a family race team. Everything we do is family oriented. We race with our heart on our sleeve, and we’re a single-car team in a multicar team sport. We’re having a lot of success and that’s more gratifying to me — owning the team, being part of the day-in, day-out operations and being on that island by yourself. It’s very gratifying.”
Torrence, who finished a career-best third last season, has advanced to seven of 13 final rounds this year, going 5-2. He is on an eight-race winning streak, having swept the previous two events in Norwalk, Ohio and Chicago. Torrence has yet to lose in the first round, but lost three quarterfinal races in the first four events of the year.
Torrence entered this season with a 154-154 career elimination-round record, and he was average early this season until winning the fifth race in front of family and friends April 23 in Houston.
“First few races we struggled. And then we developed our clutch package and everything in the bell housing,” he said. “We’ve been able to work on that tuneup, refine that tuneup. And I’m driving more confident than I ever have just because of the race car and the way it’s performing.”
Footnotes. John Force Racing came out strong in its three-car funny car program, running 1-2-3 in the delayed first qualifying session and that stood through the second session. John Force broke the funny car track record elapsed time with a 3.899-second run before daughter Courtney Force broke that with a 3.889 pass. Courtney also rewrote the track speed record, going 328.30 mph. JFR’s Robert Hight had the third-fastest time of the first session. … The first qualifying session, scheduled to begin at 5 p.m., featured several rain delays and lasted past 8:45 p.m., after pro stock and pro stock motorcycle. Those divisions were limited to one session Friday and Drew Skillman (pro stock, 6.925, 197.94 mph) and Eddie Krawiec (pro stock motorcycle, 7.178, 185.86 mph) own the provisional pole positions. … There are two scheduled qualifying sessions Saturday before Sunday’s 16-ladder races in top fuel, funny car, pro stock and pro stock motorcycle.