COMMERCE, Ga. — The 2012 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season was a breakout year for Top Fuel driver Steve Torrence and his Capco Racing/Torrence Motorsports dragster.
In the highlight of that campaign, he raced to his first final-round appearance and defeated Tony Schumacher for his first victory at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals.
At the time, Schumacher was mired in a win drought that stretched back to the end of the 2010 season. En route to the final to meet the seven-time NHRA Mello Yello world champion, Torrence defeated J.R. Todd, Bob Vandergriff and Brandon Bernstein.
“Tony Schumacher is always tough to beat,” Torrence said. “He is an accomplished driver, and you always expect perfection. But I had confidence in my race car. We had lane choice; I thought we could do it. It was tough racing all day. I had a really competitive car, and I thought we had the car to beat. Richard Hogan, our crew chief, had a handle on the track conditions, and we were making quick runs.”
Torrence will be looking to defend his victory when the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals returns to Atlanta Dragway May 3-5. The seventh of 24 events in the 2013 season will feature competition in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock and be televised on ESPN2HD. Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) are also defending event winners.
For Torrence, racing is a family affair. He got started in the sport as a teenager in the Super Comp ranks with his father at his side, so the presence of his dad at the 2012 event sweetened his win.
“It was unbelievable,” Torrence said. “All of the hard work we put into putting the team together all paid off that day. And it was made more special because my dad was with me.”
Torrence and his team won two more events last year (in Seattle and Englishtown, N.J.) and qualified for the Countdown to the Championship for the first time. Though the victories didn’t come easier following his first triumph, they did raise the spirits of the team.