After going to five different race tracks in six consecutive, exhausting weeks of NHRA Full Throttle Series action, it didn’t take Steve Torrence long to find a way to relax away from the thundering sounds of NHRA Top Fuel competition.

He went deer hunting in Southern Texas.

“I enjoy it because it is a challenge,” he commented. “You don’t have to rely on anyone else, and it is usually quiet.

“Our Torrence Racing/Capco Contractors Inc. Top Fuel team needed a break,” Torrence continued. “We recharged our batteries and now we are ready to go racing in Las Vegas. We want to have fun in Vegas . . . and winning there would give us something to really celebrate.”

The 22nd of 23 2012 races – NHRA the Big O Tires Nationals – opens its four-day run Friday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

It was there in April where his first-year, single-car team initially flashed its potential. After qualifying 11th, Torrence responded on race day, advancing to the semifinals with wins over Bob Vandergriff and David Grubnic before losing to Spencer Massey, who is currently second in the title race.

Torrence went on to win three times (Atlanta, Englishtown, NJ and Seattle) in five final rounds and qualified comfortably for the six-race Countdown to the Championship in an unexpectedly strong fourth place. His quickest elapsed time is 3.359 seconds and his fastest lap is 326.79 mph.

Now, however, crew chief Richard Hogan has been attempting to eradicate a perplexing clutch disc situation that has contributed to Torrence’s recent struggles. He is eighth in points and seeking a revitalized effort here and at Pomona, Calif., in the Finals, Nov. 8-11.

“We are going to test Monday and Tuesday after the race to see what we can find out,” said Hogan. “We’ll get it figured out.”

Whatever the outcome, Torrence says, “We’ve had a good season . . . we are still learning, and we are already looking forward to 2013.”