Steve Torrence to Join J.R. Todd on SKULL Shine Top Fuel Team for Final Three NHRA POWERade Series Races

Steve Torrence, the 2005 NHRA Lucas Oil Top Alcohol Dragster champion, makes his move into the Top Fuel ranks at the Torco Racing Fuels Nationals, at Richmond, Va., Oct. 6-8.

The talented Torrence will be driving a SKULL Shine/Knoll Gas-Torco Racing Fuels dragster at the last three 2006 POWERade Series events. The car will be tuned by former Funny Car champion Mark Oswald. Torrence will be a teammate of J.R. Todd, another talented Top Fuel driver, on Dexter Tuttle's team.

"I'm very excited," said Torrence, 23, who dominated the TAD series a year ago, winning four national events and five divisional races. He added two more national event wins in 2006. "I am looking forward to working with Dexter and the team. I'm honored to be J.R.'s teammate. We want to do well and put on a good show for everybody.

"Driving a Top Fuel is the pinnacle of drag racing . . . you can't get any higher," continued Torrence, of Kilgore, Texas. "I've wanted to do this since I was a kid growing up. I'm living a dream and I want to take advantage of this opportunity."

He earned his Top Fuel license in June, making the required number of runs in Todd's dragster at St. Louis in June.

"Driving the Top Fuel car was definitely quite a jump from the A/Fuel car," Torrence said. "It left (the starting line) a good bit harder and it really pulled harder from 200 feet out to the finish line. I had runs of 4.75 and 4.76 seconds at 308 (mph). That was a major difference in the two cars. The 4.75-second time isn't a competitive run by any means, but when the quickest I had run before was 5.20 seconds, it was a big jump."

Tuttle said he is "excited to be able to put Steve into a Top Fuel dragster. We expect great things from him. Both cars will be set up identically. Mark will work with Jimmy Walsh, J.R.'s crew chief, on the tune-ups."

"I think this is a definite advantage for us," added Todd. "We will have another car to learn from, and that will help both cars."

Evan Knoll, owner of SKULL Shine and Knoll Gas-Torco Racing Fuels, said he is "very excited about having Steve get behind the wheel of the Top Fuel dragster. I got him licensed in J.R.'s car and now we'll see what he will be able to do. We want him to have fun with this team."

"I'm thrilled to have the opportunity of driving a Top Fuel dragster for Evan and look forward to working with him and Dexter Tuttle's team," said Torrence.

Torrence will be in Reading, Pa.., this weekend to watch Todd compete in the rain-delayed Toyo Tires Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. Torrence, Oswald and crew will test the new Brad Hadman-built dragster on Monday at Maple Grove.

The other two races on Torrence's schedule will be at Las Vegas, Oct. 27-29, and Pomona, Calif., Nov. 9-12.

Torrence was a virtual unknown when he replaced the late Shelly Howard in the driver's seat of Tom Conway's SKULL Gear/Torco Racing Fuels A/Fuel Dragster in 2005. But drag racing fans definitely knew his name by the end of the year. And he kept up that pace early this season, winning twice.

Oswald won the 1984 Funny Car championship and retired from driving with 19 career victories, 17 in Funny Car two in Top Fuel. He won at least one national event from 1982 through 1991. He was runner-up to Shirley Muldowney in the 1982 Top Fuel points race and placed in the Funny Car top 10 from 1983 to 1992.

-credit: jls