Wondering about the ‘Countdown’ and short fields

Just Wondering ... Will qualifying be the most dramatic part of the NHRA “countdown” when the six-race NHRA Championship race series begins after the U.S. Nationals?  I say it could very well be a qualifying “war” especially if the current trend of “short” fields in Top Fuel on race days continues to be the norm and not the exception.


As my old friend Ted Jones would say, “Here’s the deal”:  (1) The budget single-car teams that are generally racing for the $10,000 first-round money (which in reality doesn’t even allow those team owners to “break even” financially for their efforts) are probably going to be even less likely to be at NHRA events after Indy unless the race is in their hometown, so short fields in Top Fuel are likely for the countdown. (2) Qualifying number-one for a 15-car field gives that driver and team a massive advantage over the other racers and teams going for the championship. How can that be you ask? The number-one qualifier gets points for qualifying plus for winning the first round automatically while his or her opponents will have to race for them. I doubt many teams or team owners of Countdown team have considered this scenario.


After reading this, the NHRA will probably do whatever they can to make sure they get a 16-car qualified field at the Countdown races. I’ll bet the NHRA might have to do more than guarantee the $10,000 first-round money to get the budget teams to come without some added benefits. I think a Mello Yello World Championship won with less than full fields is a tainted championship. – Jeff Burk (jeffburk@dragracingonline.com)  

Layne recovering from Seattle crash

During first-round qualifying for the NHRA Northwest Nationals, Beau Layne suffered a top-end incident on his Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley and came off the bike at well over 200 MPH.


He was taken to a local hospital and was treated for injuries sustained in the crash. Layne was released within a matter of days and was soon home, walking about, recovering. He commented during a phone interview with DRO Motorcycle Editor Tom McCarthy, “I’m not done by a long shot, but we have to get the bike repaired. I don’t see us making the next race, but we hope to have everything ready in time for the U.S. Nationals at Indy in September.”


See McCarthy’s roundup of July two-wheel action in his Motorcycle Memos.

Fontana hosts SoCal Pro Gas and Super Street this weekend

Super Street points leader Kevin Houmard and Pro Gas points leader Greg Martin (shown) will take their leads into this weekend’s association doubleheader weekend at Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, CA.


Houmard leads the Southern California Super Street series with his wild blown-’71 Chevy Camaro. Houmard enters the weekend with 2947 points, followed by PJ Giacalone at 2671 and Mike Blodgett Sr rounding out the top three with 2568 points. Fred Murphy is the current Super Street Shootout points leader with 70 points, with Brian Kelly one point behind the leader. Able Wire EDM will sponsor the weekend Super Street races.


Martin leads Pro Gas with 3156 points, just 4 points ahead of second place Mike Blodgett Jr. Pete Bothe is third with 3053. Doug Sedmak leads the Pro Gas Shootout series with 72 points, followed by Steve Parsons with 57.  The 7th and 8th races of the 10-race series will be sponsored by B&B Electric and the Pro Gas association. 

Force celebrates at Norwalk’s Night Under Fire

Just six days after recording his historic 150th NHRA Mello Yello Series victory, John Force will take a specialty paint scheme PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil Chevy Camaro down the track for two passes on Saturday night at Summit Motorsports Park annual Night Under Fire where, in 2000, the 16-time world champion had a portion of the grandstands named in his honor.


“Racing at Norwalk for the Night Under Fire event, well it’s become tradition, it takes me back to the old days, when I first started. The match racing, it’s where it’s at. It reminds you where you came from,” said Force who won last year’s event over Hight. “Coming out her to Bader’s home after winning 150, it’s perfect timing, it gives me a chance to continue the celebration and be able to share it with the fans in a unique setting. It’s always a great show and the stands are always packed.”


JFR teammate and current NHRA Funny Car points leader Robert Hight and his Automobile Club of Southern California Chevy Camaro will also be participating at the unique event.

Should NHRA or Force be fined for language?

Controversy has raged ever since Sunday’s FOX broadcast of John Force’s 150th win at Seattle after the 16-time champion uttered a couple of “unsavory” words in the heat of the moment.


Had the event been shown on FS1, the apology from the NHRA on-air talent would have sufficed, but this event was on the FOX network and is subject to FCC oversight. Although standards have been changing over the years, there are still certain words that are not allowed and Force used two of them on Sunday.


After checking with many sources, the Agent believes that the NHRA, as producer of the broadcast, is ultimately liable for any fines that might be levied, not Force. Freedom of speech is still part of the Bill of Rights, the Agent says and expecting an emotional racer such as Force to control himself and think before he speaks might be out of the question.


The Agent suggests that NHRA use a five-second delay as many call-in radio shows do to protect against such accidents. Who thought a live broadcast was a good idea? 

Street Car Showdown racers go for record time at U.S. Nationals

Some of the best street car racers will come together at the 65th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals to compete for the chance to reset the Street Car E.T. record in the NHRA Street Car Showdown.


On August 31 and September 1, fans at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals will get to watch Tom Bailey, Joe Barry, Bryant Goldstone and Dave Schroeder see if they can tune up their impressive street machines precisely enough to knock a few digits off of the current record of 5.85 seconds. All four of the drivers and cars participating have completed HOT ROD Drag Week, a competition wherein drivers race and road-trip their cars on a course of five dragstrips in five days. These cars are driven – not trailered – to each dragstrip where they run for quickest ET at each stop.   

Matter to attend UNFC and NHRA events

Nancy Matter has been racing in the Funny Car Chaos series this season. She won at the April Mo-Kan Dragway event.


Two years after moving from the NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car ranks to a Nitro Funny Car, Nancy Matter and her team will be competing at a couple of quarter-mile events this September.


The first event is with the United Nitro Funny Car Association during the Southwest Nitro Shootout in Tucson, AZ, on Sept. 6-7. The follow up event will be a short two weeks later during the National Hot Rod Association’s Heritage Race at Osage Casino Raceway Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sept. 20-21.


Matter’s team is led by her life-long friend andlLegendary Hall of Fame drag racer, Dale Pulde. The team helps raise awareness for Guardian For Heroes - The Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield Legacy’s.

Dixon joins BRAKES as instructor and spokesman

The B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe) national teen defensive driving program has announced that three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon has joined the organization as a driving instructor and official spokesperson.


“I’ve had the fortune of knowing Doug (Herbert) since high school, both as a fellow competitor and as a friend,” said Dixon. “Doug and his team have also taught two of my children, so I am equally as impressed as a parent. I’m proud to join this great organization and use my platform to help spread the word about the B.R.A.K.E.S. program, which has saved countless lives.” 



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