Billy Torrence did not expect to have a chance at the top 10 and make the countdown at the start of the 2019 NHRA season.
The 61-year-old races on a part time schedule, but his two wins at Phoenix and Sonoma have him in 12th place of the Top Fuel standings heading into the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway Aug. 15-18.
Last year, Torrence won the crown at Brainerd International Raceway for Top Fuel and, with a chance to make the countdown, he hopes he can make it back to back wins.
“I’m going to be really focused on the Brainerd race,” he said. “I have enjoyed racing there -- great venue, great fans -- and I hope to do well there again. The next race is the Indy race which is a points and-a-half race so theres 10 potential rounds for me to get in (the countdown). I only need to further myself three and a half rounds above the number 10 car (in the standings) so it’s definitely doable.”
On top of the Top Fuel standings is Torrence’s son Steve, who is not only family, but a teammate. Steve’s big year and Billy just barely on the outside looking in on the countdown despite only racing part time shows what a great season Capco Racing and Torrence Motorsports has had.
“It’s something I am certainly proud of,” Billy said of his son Steve being at the top of the Top Fuel standings by over 600 points heading into Brainerd. “We are the only the family race team at the forefront of Top Fuel class and their hands down the top team on the property when they roll up.”
Don’t think that because Steve’s old man needs some points to get in the countdown that Steve is going to let up down the stretch.
“I think he is going to take the head off of anyone that is in the other lane, including me,” Billy said laughing at the notion that his son would go easy on him.
Billy’s season has had more highs than lows. The first race in Pomona he lost on a holeshot which cost him the win and a mechanical failure in Houston are the only two blemishes on his part time schedule.
However, with two wins and two other semifinals Billy has seen himself have more success in the eight events he has raced in the 2019 season. Most of the lowlights for Billy are highs anyways because of how much success Steve is having.
“We are very blessed and fortunate to come out and do this as a family and it’s a win-win for us regardless,” Billy said. “There have been many times this season that I have teared up and just thanked the Lord.”
The few times he has lost in the elimination rounds this season it has been to his son Steve, who beat him in the Richmond semis and in the Topeka finals.
“We might’ve won a couple more if we didn’t have to keep running across Steve,” Billy said.
For these last two events on the schedule, all Billy wants is to be in the top 10 and make it to the countdown when it’s all said and done. He won at Sonoma two weeks ago so he feels he already has momentum on his side coming into Brainerd.
“To be recognized as an old-part time guy and finish in the top 10 I don’t think that’s ever been done,” Billy said.
If Billy does in fact make it into the top 10 he thinks it is a reflection of the fabulous job done by his team of Capco Racing and Torrence Motorsports.
“For even the B car to roll in with a part time schedule and finish in the top that’s something,” he said. “And Steve is so far ahead of the big dog cars they are shell shocked. If not for the welfare system NHRA has where they give all these people points they didn’t earn at the end of the year the championship is locked already.”
Winning at Brainerd last year gives Billy confidence coming into this year’s race, but he knows none of the other racers care about what he did last year. He knows he can win though.
“Last year that was my first win in Brainerd and it is something I will never forget,” he said. “And I’m hoping to do it again.”
Ride: Capco Racing/Torrence Motorsports Dragster
Crew chief: Bobby Lagana
Hometown: Kilgore, TX
Last year at BIR: Won the Top Fuel division
Current standing: 12th