Torrence and Conway win U.S. Nationals
CLERMONT, Ind. - NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster rookie stand out Steve Torrence and car owner/tuner Tom Conway won their third-straight national event in as many appearances at the biggest drag race of them all, this past weekend's Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at the famed Indianapolis Raceway Park. Torrence defeated another rookie, Hillary Will in the final to move into third place in national points standings, just 91 points out of first place.
Torrence, 22, of Kilgore, Texas, drove the Conway-tuned machine to the fifth spot in qualifying with a 5.400 second elapsed time at 262.64 mph. In round one, Torrence dispatched 2003 World Champ Art Gallant with a 5.241 at 267.80 mph, then defeated last year's championship runner-up Bill Reichert with a 5.294 at 266.69 mph. Torrence's semifinal opponent would be drag race legend Gene Snow, but youth prevailed as Torrence advanced to the final with a 5.326 at 265.22 mph.
In the final, Torrence would square off with soon-to-be Top Fuel driver Hillary Will. Torrence gained the jump off the line and never looked back, running a 5.299 at 268.87 mph to Will's 5.365 at 267.75 mph. The event was the third straight year the Conway-lead team has been in the final at Indy, with the late Shelly Howard scoring runner-up finishes the past two seasons.
"First of all, I would like to dedicate this win to the memory of Shelly," said Torrence. "I think she's smiling down on us right now from Heaven. Tom and the guys give me a great car to drive at every race. To come to Indy and win in my rookie year is an indescribable feeling. I came into this year just hoping to get some seat time, and now we've won Indy, and are racing for the World Championship."
Torrence took over for the late Shelly Howard, who was killed in a freak testing accident in April. The team won their only event with Shelly behind the wheel this year, the season opener in Houston, and now have won three national events combined with three wins and a runner-up on the divisional level. The team is now within striking distance of the national points lead, and are planning to make a run towards that goal.
"As long as we keep winning rounds, the points will take care of themselves," stated Torrence. "It's as simple as that. We need two more wins to have a perfect record on the national level, and two more wins to have a perfect record on the divisional side. I'm going to do my best in the cockpit to win those rounds for our sponsors Casino Queen, Valvoline, NGK Spark Plugs, Broken Arrow Powder Coating, St. Moritz Machine, Tulsa Sheetmetal and Rosa Maria's Restaurants."
The next event in Conway Racing's chase for the title will be in two weeks at the Div. 4 event at Thunder Valley Raceway Park just outside of Oklahoma City. There Torrence will not only be vying for the national title, but will be looking to clinch the Division 4 title.
Did you know?
- For the past four years a rookie driver has won the U.S. Nationals in TAD?
2002- John Haley
2003- Morgan Lucas
2004- Ashley Force
2005- Steve Torrence
- Team owner Tom Conway has one victory and one runner-up to his credit at the U.S. Nationals as a driver.