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Notes scribbled in my coaster from The Cooler “dive bar”  in O’Fallon, MO

One of the questions I often get asked is why there aren’t more Friday night qualifying sessions at NHRA events. So, when I had the opportunity this week, I asked NHRA Prez Tom Compton that question. The answer was that there are a lot of factors, but the foremost is lighting. That makes sense to me. Driving in the dark at 300+ mph has to be hairy and scary. NHRA’s Graham Light consults with the pro drivers and if they don’t feel the lighting is good enough -- especially in the shutdown area -- then chances are there won’t be any night racing. This is a classic case of safety overriding the need to sell tickets. Good answer.

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How expensive is it for the pro teams when a new part that offers a performance advantage is approved by the NHRA? Well, in the case of at least one pro nitro team who will replace 12 sets of their current heads with the new AJR heads next year, just the bare heads will cost the team a little south of $100,000.

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My sources tell me that the next canopied Top Fueler to come off of the DSR in-house chassis jig will be for Antron Brown. I’m saying that once that happens, Antron will be the absolute dominant car in Top Fuel the rest of the playoff and win the Championship going away! You read it here first.

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Speaking of DSR, we’ve had a few letters and phone calls about the peculiar Nitro Funny Car final round between DSR team members Jack Beckman and Matt Hagan at St. Louis. Hagan, one of the best “leavers” in the Nitro Funny Car ranks had a -.307 red light, almost leaving before the tree was activated. Beckman on the other hand was evidently nonplussed by Hagan’s early leave and just sat for a while before finally leaving with a .448 green light. That means Beckman sat for almost three quarters of a second before he stepped on the throttle. Usually in a heads-up race when one driver has a -.307 red light the driver in the other lane leaves right behind him. I’ve never in my career witnessed a stranger race than that one. And then Matt Hagan, who is known for taking this kind of thing very personally, had a big smile on his face and didn’t seem bothered by his failure at all when interviewed on the top end.

As I’ve stated many times before in this very space I don’t have an issue with “team orders.” It happens at every level of professional auto racing and there is no reason for drag racing to be exempt. I’m not saying that team orders were a part of the bizarre Nitro Funny Car final at St. Louis but I will say that race was more than a little strange.

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