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NHRA: Torrence looks to defend title at BIR

Steve Torrence finally checked BIR off his list of winning tracks last year. He'll look for his first win of the season this year at BIR

Steve Torrence
Steve Torrence drives his Capco Racing/Torrence Motorsports Top Fuel car during the 2022 season.
NHRA Photo
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Steve Torrence doesn’t remember much about last year’s NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals, but he remembers he was on top.

After defeating Clay Milican with an ET of 3.712, Torrence became a new winner in the top fuel class at Brainerd International Raceway. He’ll look to repeat as champion Aug. 18-21.

“That day went by so fast,” Torrence said of last year’s victory. “I don’t really remember how it happened or what happened. I just know we were in the middle of wrapping up the regular season and the car was running great. I had more confidence headed into that race than I did at any time coming to Brainerd. It was one we needed to get done and it closed the deal to say that we’ve won at every race track on the circuit.”

After posting 11 wins in 20 races, which included 14 final round appearances, Torrence cruised to his fourth straight Top Fuel title in 2021.

Coming into BIR this week, Torrence has already clinched a spot in the countdown, but he hasn’t found the winner’s circle yet in 2022.

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Steve Torrence
Steve Torrence
JERRY_FOSS

“This is the first season in I don't know how many years that we haven’t won a race yet,” he said. “At the first of the season, they brought up a stat that it had been four or five seasons since we have gone three races without winning a race.”

Despite the long drought Torrence feels his car is running well. He’s tallied two No. 1 qualifiers this season, one at Houston and most recently at Epping.

“We’ve set the bar really high for us as standards and there are a lot of drivers that go seasons without wins,” he said “So we are hungry but we know what the goal is. Like a boxer we have a strategy coming in and you have to take the beating and the bruising all the way up to the final round to get that knockout.”

Last week in Topeka, Kansas, Torrence made the final round at Heartland Motorsports Park, but lost to Antron Brown.

“I’m excited to go to Brainerd,” Torrence said. “The car ran great in Topeka and heading to Brainerd I feel like we are finally making the corner and things are going the way we want.”

It was the third runner-up finish for Torrence this season. He was second in Richmond to Brittany Force, who leads the Top Fuel series in points. Torrence also placed second to Force in Las Vegas which was the fourth race of the season for him.

Torrence holds a 20-14 record in round races which is well off the .658 winning percentage (437-227) he holds for his Top Fuel career.

Torrence is ready to be a defending champion at BIR. He says the fans in Brainerd provide a great atmosphere.

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“Being the four-time world champion the fans have been very, very good to us over the years,” he said. “I think the fanbase there is remarkable. We do some stuff out there in the zoo and interact with a lot of people there. The fans there have been some of the best on the circuit.”

Torrence currently sits fourth in the Top Fuel series points standings and trails Force by 162 points. Having already clinched a berth in the countdown, Torrence knows the regular season is about making sure the car is right for the countdown.

“We’ve learned in the past that the regular season is just preparation for the final six,” he said. “In previous years, we’ve had a two to three to four hundred point advantage that we’ve lost when the points reset. So this year we have tried some things and worked on some things to get the car quicker and faster and it’s coming to fruition at the right time. The car is doing well and we are optimistic that we will be strong contenders for the championship”

Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals

WHAT: 40th Annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, the 11th event of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series 2022 season. Drivers in the professional categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points leading to 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series world championships. The competition also will be featured in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series.

WHERE: Brainerd International Raceway and Resort, Brainerd. The track is located a few miles north of the Brainerd area off Highway 371. The track is located on the east side of the highway.

COURSE: Championship drag strip. Track elevation is 1,200 feet above sea level. Track direction is west to east.

WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 15-18

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THURSDAY, Aug. 18

LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying and time trials at 9:15 a.m.

FRIDAY, Aug. 19 

LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations at 9:15 a.m.

PRO MOD qualifying at 1:30 and 5:15 p.m.

D-WAGON PRO MOD SHOOTOUT eliminations round 1 at 6 p.m.

NHRA CAMPING WORLD SERIES qualifying at 2:15 and 6 p.m.

SATURDAY, Aug. 20

LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations at 9:15 a.m.

PRO MOD qualifying at 12:45 and 3:45 p.m.

D-WAGON PRO MOD SHOOTOUT eliminations at 1, 4 and 5:30 p.m.

NHRA CAMPING WORLD SERIES qualifying at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m.

SUNDAY, Aug. 21

Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.

NHRA CAMPING WORLD SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

TELEVISION:

Friday, Aug. 19, FS1 will televise one and-a-half hours of qualifying coverage at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21, FS1 will televise one-and-a-half hours of qualifying coverage at 12:30 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 21, FOX will televise three hours of live finals coverage at 2:30 p.m.

2021 EVENT WINNERS:

Steve Torrence, Top Fuel; Matt Hagan, Funny Car.

MOST VICTORIES: 

Top Fuel — Joe Amato 6; Funny Car — John Force 11

TRACK RECORDS:

Top Fuel — Leah Pruett 3.640 seconds, Aug. 2017; Brittany Force 334.9mph, Aug. 2021

Funny Car — Robert Hight 3.793 seconds, Aug. 2017; Robert Hight 338.00 mph, Aug. 2017

NATIONAL RECORDS: 

Top Fuel — Brittany Force 3.623 seconds, Reading, 2019; Brittany Force 338.17 mph, Las Vegas 2, 2019

Funny Car — Robert Hight 3.793, Brainerd, 2017; Robert Hight 339.87 mph, Sonoma, 2017

TICKETS: For tickets, call (866)-444-4455

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or conrad.engstrom@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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