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Torrence Has Become Four-Wide Convert

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, May 17 2021

Top Fuel driver Steve Torrence keeps adding to his Four-Wide trophy collection. (RacinToday photo by Deb Williams)

CONCORD, N.C. – When four-wide NHRA racing made its debut in March 2010 at zMAX Dragway, Top Fuel competitor Steve Torrence didn’t like it, but he’s changed his opinion since then, winning six of the last seven four-wide events.

“I think as a driver, it makes us step up more,” Torrence said about the two four-wide events on the NHRA Camping World Series schedule. “I think it takes you out of your wheelhouse. It makes you really buckle down, get your head in the game and focus more.  

“You have seven seconds to stage from the time the first stage bulb comes on and that seems like an eternity when it’s only one other car beside you. But when there are three other cars that are going in and somebody goes in quick, well, now that timer is going, so it throws you off your routine a little bit. 

“At the end of the day, you get in these race cars, you’re just a machine that’s programmed to do one thing and that’s leave when the lights come on and drive it straight. I’m not going to say I’m better than anybody at it. I just try to dummy it down for myself. Look at one bulb and one bulb only and don’t think about anything else.”     

With Torrence’s victory Sunday in the NGK NTK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, the Texan swept the four-wide events this year. He won at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in April. The 38-year-old Torrence has now won two of the last three four-wide events at Las Vegas and the last four at zMAX. Counting the traditional two-lane racing fall NHRA event at zMAX, the three-time Top Fuel champion now possesses five consecutive victories at the North Carolina facility. 

“(The win streak) really adds pressure to me,” Torrence said. “It keeps building. Everybody continues to put a little pressure on us about doing well at the Four-Wide. We do really well at it and I don’t know why, but I like to keep doing it. It’s the only thing that I have a winning record at.” 

Prior to Sunday’s final round Brittany Force had owned the weekend. She was the No. 1 qualifier with an elapsed time of 3.662 seconds, which also was the event’s low E.T. and top speed at 333.49 mph. Force and Torrence were joined in the final quad by Antron Brown and Josh Hart. Torrence defeated Force with a holeshot – a 0.034 reaction time to her 0.047. That resulted in Torrence’s E.T. being 3.716 seconds with Force’s at 3.723. 

Torrence admitted he was concerned about the final round.

“Going up there I knew AB’s car was going to run well,” he continued.  “Brittany has been struggling a little bit on the (Christmas) Tree, but that’s just how it goes. This thing comes and goes in waves as a driver and sometimes you’re riding the wave of confidence and sometimes you battle yourself in your own mind. I think, probably, that’s more what is going on with her right now, but the car has been spot on.”

Torrence noted he pre-staged quickly with the first and second lanes rolling in pretty close behind him.  

“Brittany’s coming in and I see the bulb flicker, flicker, flicker” Torrence said. “I’m thinking, ‘Don’t look over there. Don’t let it distract you.’ That is what will happen. I flicker the bulb quite often as well and I know it sometimes distracts people and distracts yourself.”

Torrence prefers lane one or four during a four-wide event because they provide a normal staging process. When he’s in lane two or three he’s constantly talking to himself when he goes to stage, reminding himself to look on the other side of the Tree.

“I think it was a couple of years ago here that I’m in lane three, I’m rolling up there to stage and I’m thinking, ‘Well, why aren’t they staging?’” Torrence recalled. “Well, hell, it was me. So I had a red light. When you do that, you make a conscious effort not to do that again. It’s kind of embarrassing.” 

Torrence left zMAX Dragway with a 76-point lead over Brown in the Top Fuel standings. Force was third, 134 points in arrears to Torrence.

The NHRA now travels to Houston Raceway Park for the May 21-23 Mopar Express Lane NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Pennzoil.

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, May 17 2021
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