S. Torrence picks up first No. 1 qualifier of 2021 season

By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher

Capco Contractors Top Fuel Dragster pilot Steve Torrence goes into the first eliminations of the 2021 season as the No. 1 qualifier. His provisional time was able to hold up on Saturday at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Florida.

Torrence went 3.699 at 324.90 mph to claim the top spot.

Steve Torrence celebrates after claiming his first No. 1 qualifier of the season (Photo by the NHRA/Twitter)

“We need to maintain our focus and concentration on going laps and going rounds because there’s a lot of people targeting us,” said Torrence, a 40-time event winner. “We’re going to have to step up. Brittany (Force) is back, some other people are back and it’s going to be a competitive field, just as it always is. Getting in these things, you get jacked up and that run (Friday) was stout. We made a good run this afternoon and we’re excited to stay on top. The yellow (No. 1 qualifier) hats are nice, but we’re trying to get some of those winner’s hats, so we’ll see what we can do.”

The Kilgore, Texas native will attempt to win the Gatornationals for the second straight year. Last September, he won the event in a Swamp Rat livery dedicated to the legendary Don “Big Daddy” Garlits.

The last driver to win this event that was not named Torrence was Richie Crampton. He won the 50th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in March 2019 when he drove for Kalitta Motorsports.

Capco Contractors will have the top two qualifiers. His father Billy Torrence is the No. 2 qualifier, as he went 3.735 at 326.96 mph.

Mopar-sponsored pilot Leah Pruett is the No. 3 qualifier. The Arizona native went 3.741 at 326.32 mph.

Eliminations ladder:

1) Steve Torrence vs. 16) Joe Morrison
2) Billy Torrence vs. 15) Scott Palmer
3) Leah Pruett vs. 14) Mike Bucher (Top Fuel debut)
4) Doug Kalitta vs. 13) Arthur Allen
5) Brittany Force vs. 12) Justin Ashley
6) Shawn Langdon vs. 11) Doug Foley
7) Mike Salinas vs. 10) Antron Brown
8) Josh Hart (Top Fuel debut) vs. 9) Clay Millican

Two drivers did not qualify. Krista Baldwin will have to wait another day to make her eliminations debut.

Baldwin made her Top Fuel qualifying debut this weekend. She went 4.503 at 181.81 mph during her best qualifying attempt for 17th.

Todd Paton also did not make the show. He was broke in Terry Haddock’s entry.

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