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Top Fuel’s Top Dog Wrecks At The ‘Plex

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 15 2017

Steve Torrence had a ‘pretty dadgum bad wreck’ at the Texas Motorplex On Sunday. He was uninjured but the incident could cost the points-leader dearly. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

ENNIS, Texas – Top Fuel point-leader Steve Torrence walked away from a grinding, parts-spewing crash Sunday afternoon in his quarterfinal race of the 32nd annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals.

Moments after Torrence had defeated Richie Crampton, his Capco Contractors dragster took a hard-left into the concrete retaining wall at over 300 mph. The car’s front clip collapsed and detached from the driver’s section and rear wheels, which continued skidding across the track behind Crampton’s car before stopping.

As the smoke and debris settled, Torrence _ a 34-year-old resident of Kilgore in East Texas _ exited the wreckage under his own power and raised his hands to show the fans and live FOX Sports 1 television audience that he was not injured.

“I haven’t seen it (on replay) but I rode in it. It wasn’t much fun,” Torrence joked during an interview near the crash scene as NHRA’s Safety Safari went to work. “I know what happened. The left rear tire went down and the car started going left. I tried to steer it and I’m thinking, ‘I’m trying to get over here…but where the hell are we going?’ ”

An eight-time national event winner this season, Torrence won the round with a 1,000-foot pass in 3.724-seconds at 302.62 mph, while Crampton ran 3.711-seconds at 325.53 mph.

Under NHRA rules, Torrence is eligible to continue in the event in a backup car that had not already run in competition here. That rule prevented Torrence from jumping into the Capco-sponsored car his father, Billy, wheeled during a first-round loss Sunday to Crampton. Torrence also will have to be medically cleared in order to continue the quest for his first Top Fuel victory at the Motorplex, which he considers his home track.

“That was a pretty dadgum bad wreck. Our backup is race-ready and we’re going to pull it out and try to put on a good show for all these Texas fans,” Torrence said as his team led by crew chiefs Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr. began prepping a chassis built by Morgan Lucas Racing.

Ironically, Crampton works as a fabricator at Morgan Lucas Racing, where he contributed to building the car that saved Torrence’s life. “I’m thankful Richie didn’t run over me. The Good Lord is looking after me and I’m good to go,” said Torrence, who will be paired with Brittany Force of John Force Racing in the semifinals.

Torrence began the weekend with a 42-point lead, basically two rounds
of racing, over runnerup Doug Kalitta of Kalitta Motorsports. Kalitta
won his first-round race against Arlington’s Kebin Kinsley but was
knocked out of the event by Force, third in the standings, in the
quarterfinals.

Torrence, who finished a career-best third in points in 2016, started the day as the Top Fuel pole-sitter after qualifying at 3.682-seconds and 327.51 mph Saturday. It was his third pole of the season, 16th of his career but first at former Funny Car driver Billy Meyer’s stadium-style facility.

Torrence easily defeated Blake Alexander in the first round with a pass in 3.683-seconds and 327.59 mph. Alexander ran 4.110-seconds at 217.28 mph.

Sunday’s event on the Motorplex’s famed all-concrete surface is Round 4 of the six-event Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 15 2017
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