COMMERCE, Ga. --
At the time, Schumacher was mired in a win drought that stretched back to the end of the 2010 season. En route to the final to meet the seven-time NHRA Mello Yello world champion, Torrence defeated J.R. Todd, Bob Vandergriff and Brandon Bernstein.
"Tony Schumacher is always tough to beat," Torrence said. "He is an accomplished driver, and you always expect perfection. But I had confidence in my race car. We had lane choice; I thought we could do it. It was tough racing all day. I had a really competitive car, and I thought we had the car to beat. Richard Hogan, our crew chief, had a handle on the track conditions, and we were making quick runs."
Torrence will be looking to defend his victory when the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals returns to Atlanta Dragway. The seventh of 24 events in the 2013 season will feature competition in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock and be televised on ESPN2HD. Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) are also defending event winners.
For Torrence, racing is a family affair. He got started in the sport as a teenager in the Super Comp ranks with his father at his side, so the presence of his dad at the 2012 event sweetened his win.
"It was unbelievable," Torrence said. "All of the hard work we put into putting the team together all paid off that day. And it was made more special because my dad was with me."
"Nothing is ever easy because every driver wants to win," Torrence said. "I have gained confidence because this team proved that we can win races. I had to pedal the car on almost every run in Seattle to get the win, and I had two holeshot wins in Englishtown."
This season Torrence finds himself just outside the top 10 in the points standings with his best efforts being a pair of quarterfinal finishes. He hopes a season turnaround might happen in Atlanta.
"We need to get our car running like it was last year at this time," Torrence said.
The Top Fuel category has seen some incredible racing thus far this season with Tony Schumacher holding the series lead over his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Antron Brown. Houston winner and local favorite Bob Vandergriff will have plenty of family and friends cheering him on. Others to watch in the Top Fuel category include Spencer Massey, Doug Kalitta, Brandon Bernstein, Shawn Langdon, Morgan Lucas, Dave Grubnic and Khalid alBalooshi.
In Funny Car, Courtney Force in her sophomore season has raced to two final round appearances this season and won the season-opening event in Pomona. Two-time season winner Cruz Pedregon, Del Worsham, Robert Hight and defending event winner Ron Capps are all looking for another Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals victory.
The Pro Stock category is once again shaping up to be a tight battle with Mike Edwards holding the series lead over defending world champ Allen Johnson. Jeg Coughlin, Vincent Nobile, Shane Gray and Erica Enders-Stevens are among the pre-race favorites in the 200-mph factory hot rod category.
The NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series also will thrill the crowds during the weekend with intense side-by-side competition.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers because every ticket is an exclusive pit pass, allowing them to see firsthand the highly skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds. Spectators also won't want to miss the popular interactive NHRA Nitro Alley and the NHRA Manufacturers Midway.
• SCHEDULE: NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2 and 4 p.m. Friday, May 10. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 11.
• TICKETS: For tickets, log on to www.NHRATix.com or call the NHRA Ticket Sales Center at (800) 884-NHRA (6472).
• TELEVISION: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 10 a.m. (ET) on Saturday, May 11, and three hours of eliminations coverage at 8 p.m. (ET), also on Saturday, May 11.