Defending NHRA Top Fuel Champ Steve Torrence Has Chance To Sweep Western Swing In Pomona

Story By: NHRA – POMONA, CA – Steve Torrence has an opportunity to make NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series history at this weekend’s Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, but that’s nothing new for the Top Fuel standout who has won three straight world championships.

Torrence can become just the eighth driver in NHRA history to sweep the three-race Western Swing and first since 2009 if he can win this weekend in Pomona. He’s already picked up wins in Denver and Sonoma in back-to-back weekends to open the Western Swing in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster, and Torrence has a chance to break out the brooms at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. He’s had great memories at the track in recent years, including his first championship when he won at the track to finish off his historic sweep of the Countdown to the Championship, but Torrence is only focused on the immediate task at hand, and that’s making a good run on Friday to open qualifying.

“Sweeping the Swing would be a great accomplishment, but that is not what we are setting out to do,” Torrence said. “Come Friday night, our goal is to make a solid, clean and fast run down the racetrack. It’s one run at a time for us. One run at a time equals one race at a time, and if it happens to be three races in a row that equates to sweeping the Swing then that’s what happens. Racing in Pomona during the middle of the summer is also a different ball game. We generally run in the cooler months there, so it should get interesting.”

Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of a race that will be televised on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) and FOX, including finals coverage beginning at 4 p.m. ET on FOX on Sunday, Aug. 1. It marks the 10th race of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season and the final race of what has been a memorable Western Swing. The stop in Pomona will provide a thrilling capper, as fans will be treated to two unbelievable nights of 11,000-horsepower, 330-mph nitro racing under the lights, hot rod cacklefests and fireworks leading into Sunday’s eliminations. It’s also the first time the NHRA will race at Pomona in the summer, adding another special note for the weekend.

Torrence is in the midst of another special season, putting together some of his best work this season. He’s won six of the nine races thus far in 2021, including three in a row and four of the past five events. It’s a remarkable pace for the Texan, who has already clinched his berth in the Countdown to the Championship with a fourth straight world title very much in reach. He’ll face stiff challenges in Pomona from the likes of Antron Brown, Sonoma runner-up Leah Pruett, Justin Ashley, Kalitta, Clay Millican, Brittany Force, Shawn Langdon and Mike Salinas, but Torrence continues to be impressed by his team.

“These CAPCO boys are unbelievable,” said Torrence, who has 46 career victories. “It’s hard to not be confident when you’ve got (crew chiefs) Richard Hogan, Bobby Lagana and the rest of the Capco boys behind you. I’m just the fortunate guy who’s blessed to have the opportunity to drive, and I couldn’t be more excited. These guys, they work hard and they love their job. You learn a little bit each day and we have so much fun when we come to the track.”

Funny Car’s Alexis DeJoria has put together an impressively consistent season, racking up three semifinal appearances and two finals, which means the only thing missing is a victory. Doing it in Pomona would mean a great deal for DeJoria, too, considering her California roots. She advanced to the final round in Denver to open the Western swing and followed it up with a semifinal showing last weekend in Sonoma.

In her mind, a win is coming soon and it could come this weekend in Pomona, which would give the class its seventh different winner in 10 races. To do it, DeJoria will have her work cut out for her in her 11,000-horsepower Bandero Premium Tequila ROKiT Toyota Camry , as she’ll have to face off with talented drivers like points leader Bob Tasca III, John Force, Sonoma winner Robert Hight, defending world champ Matt Hagan, who beat DeJoria in the final round at Denver, Cruz Pedregon, Ron Capps, Tim Wilkerson and J.R. Todd. DeJoria, though, likes the path her team is on heading into a key part of the season.

“Running the Winternationals in the summer is going to be interesting,” said DeJoria, who is seeking her first Pomona win. “It is going to be wild and pretty hot. It is a hometown track and I was born and raised in LA. I will have all my friends and family out there that I don’t get to see all the time. That will be nice. I love that track. Pomona is a classic and that is a win that I have always wanted.”

Pro Stock’s Aaron Stanfield has been on a roll, winning two of the past three races in the class. He’ll look to keep going strong and grab his first career win in Pomona against a talented field that includes points leader Greg Anderson, who has 12 wins at the facility, defending world champ Erica Enders, rookie Dallas Glenn, Mason McGaha, Troy Coughlin Jr., Deric Kramer, Matt Hartford and Kyle Koretsky.

Pro Stock Motorcycle will finish off its first three-race Western Swing in class history in Pomona, and Matt Smith will look to extend his points lead. He’s had a strong season, but getting a fourth win this year won’t be easy against the likes of Sonoma winner Karen Stoffer, Andrew Hines, Eddie Krawiec, Angelle Sampey, Ryan Oehler, Angie Smith and Steve Johnson.

The event also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where future stars of the sport hone their skills. Following nitro qualifying on both Friday and Saturday, there will be a special and thrilling fireworks and hot rod cacklefest celebration on the return road that fans won’t want to miss. After nitro qualifying on Saturday, fans can also enjoy a special “Hemi Under Glass” wheelstander exhibition
driven by Mike Mantel.

As always, fans are granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans a chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds.

NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 7:15 p.m. PT on Friday, July 30 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, July 31 at 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 10 a.m. PT on Sunday, Aug. 1. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday and 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, and then eliminations action at 4 p.m. on FOX on Sunday.