BROWNSBURG, Ind. – Steve Torrence took a bold step forward in his bid to become the first driver to win NHRA World Championships in both the Fuel and Alcohol divisions when he announced on Wednesday the hiring of Alan Johnson to work with crew chief Richard Hogan on the Capco Contractors dragster, beginning with this week’s 18th annual AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Johnson, who has won 11 NHRA Top Fuel titles with five different drivers including Tony Schumacher, Larry Dixon and Gary Scelzi, became available after he opted to park his own race car while pursuing additional sponsorship.
Johnson’s team ran the season’s first 18 races with help from Guy Fieri and his Knuckle Sandwich brand but ultimately was unsuccessful in securing sufficient sponsorship to offset the loss of Al-Anabi, which opted out of its commitment the week of pre-season testing.
“To race against guys like Tony and Antron (Brown) and all the multi-car teams, we need all the help we can get,” Torrence said. “Alan and Richard are good friends and have worked together before so it was a good fit for us. Alan is probably the greatest crew chief ever. He wasn’t going to be on the sidelines very long. We’re fortunate we could get him in our camp. I’m excited and I know the team’s excited.”
A five-time Top Fuel winner, Torrence starts this week from the No. 9 position in Mello Yello points after losing a second round race to Brown last week at Concord, N.C.
Encouraged by his advance to the semifinals at Gateway just a year ago, Torrence will try to make a move in the standings at the wheel of a Capco dragster that this year has had difficulty translating qualifying performance into race day success.
Although he has started six of the last seven races from no worse than the No. 4 qualifying position and even though he has sped to the three quickest times of his career during that span (3.732, 3.733 and 3.734 seconds), the 32-year-old Texan has only eight round wins to show for it, half of which came in his victory in the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Denver.