Steve Torrence felt comfortable that his standout 3.829 from Friday would keep him as the No. 1 qualifier in NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.
As it turned out, nobody came close to challenging him on a Saturday where hot and muggy were an understatement at Summit Motorsports Park.
With track temperatures of more than 140 degrees, Torrence’s 3.829 at 319.98 mph easily held up through two qualifying sessions on Saturday in Norwalk, making him the No. 1 qualifier in Top Fuel for the second time in 2012.
“These conditions were just testy conditions, and they’re really hard on the crew chiefs and everybody on the teams. These guys are working their tails off turning these cars around in these hot conditions,” Torrence said. “As a driver, you’re sitting in the car and you’re soaking wet in your suit. It was a tricky track to drive to go down.
“Last night we ran well to solidify our spot in the field. We have put together this team together relatively quick and we’ve had some of the fruits of our labor in a relatively short period of time. I attribute that completely to (crew chief) Richard Hogan and this team, and the hard work they’ve put in.”
The top six spots stayed the same, with Antron Brown (3.832) ending up second and Khalid Al-Balooshi (3.836) third.
As far as what he hoped to accomplish on a brutally hot Saturday, Torrence tried to look for positives.
He smoked the tires on his first run and then put up a respectable 4.08 during his final pass.
“We were trying to see what we could get away with and we’ve got a good baseline,” Torrence said. “I don’t know if any of this data we gained was useful, but we worked on fine-tuning that hot weather tune-up for the Western swing and Denver.”
Antron Brown (3.978) and T.J. Zizzo (3.987) were the only two drivers to crack the 3-second mark during the second qualifying session on Saturday, with Zizzo’s pass drawing a large applause from the fans who watched a series of aborted runs before his pass.
Brown was also pleased with his pass in the sweltering heat.
“That was a great lap considering the conditions,” Brown said. “The track was as slippery as slippery can be (on Saturday) and hopefully it will cool down a little bit tomorrow.”
No major moves were made other than Spencer Massey jumping to No. 7 with his 3.923 at 310.05 mph on his first qualifying pass of the day.
Out of the No. 1 position, Torrence will meet up with Brandon Bernstein in the first round of eliminations after Bernstein slipped into the field with a 4.04.
Conditions will be remarkably different on Sunday in Norwalk, but Torrence’s mindset will remain the same.
“Once you’re qualified, you’re in the field and you have a shot to win,” Torrence said. “Sunday morning, you wake up and you’re in a different mindset anyway. You’re there for one purpose and that’s to go home with a Wally, and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
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