Midseason Championship Report: TAD-TAFC-Comp
As the NHRA tour turns towards the second half of the year, we’ll use this month’s column to take a look at the championship races in Top Alcohol Dragster, Top Alcohol Funny Car and Competition Eliminator. While there is no “Countdown” like the pro series, the combination of national and divisional points always creates many interesting scenarios.
The points chases in the sportsman categories can be difficult to understand. Here’s a quick and dirty run down of the structure of the sportsman eliminators. In Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car, drivers can claim their best five nationals out of the first eight they attend combined with their best five divisionals out of the first eight they attend. The other sportsman eliminators such as Comp Eliminator can only claim their best three out of the first six nationals they attend, and the best five out of the first eight divisionals.
With some divisions starting earlier in the year, some racers may be higher in points due to the fact they have attended more races. Divisions 2, 4, 6 and 7 are over half way complete. Divisions 1, 3 and 5 are just getting started.
I’ll rank them in order of who my picks for the championships are. Current points ranking are in parenthesis.
- Bill Reichert (1) - Right now, defending Champ Reichert is in the driver’s seat. He has been to five national events, scoring three wins and a runner-up out of those first five races. He has three nationals left to claim, and who is going to bet against him going to the final in at least one of those races, if not winning. He already has the points lead after only three divisional events. He has one win and one runner up out of those three divisionals. He has the car to beat anywhere he shows up. The fat lady hasn’t sung, but she’s in the dressing room getting ready to warm up.
Jim Whiteley (7) – Five time World Champion tuner Norm Grimes has worked his magic again, except this time it is with Colorado native Jim Whiteley. Whiteley suffered a bad crash at the season opening Winternationals, only to bounce back with a win with his new car’s debut in Fontana, Calif. In three national event starts, he has two wins. The next two months will make or break the “Y Not” team. On the divisional side, he has two wins and a runner-up in four starts. Despite sitting back in seventh, he has the best car and points position to make a run at Reichert.
- Thomas Bayer (6) – Former Super Class powerhouse is the new driver for Steve and Patty Federlin’s potent B/AD. I’m ranking him third based on the fact he has a strong car and a lot of races left to claim. The Toyo Tires-backed team hasn’t been the dominant team at the races they’ve attended, but is still a threat to win. In two national event starts, Bayer has a semifinal appearance and a round one loss. However, last year’s Div. 7 Super Comp Champ has the strongest divisional record on the tour right now. In six starts on the divisional level, Bayer has two wins and three runner-ups, netting him five final round races for his divisional scorecard. Reichert has set the bar pretty high this year, so he’ll have to do close to the same on the national side to get there. Let’s not forget this team started in Pomona with a new car and new driver. Federlin’s potent dragster from the past few years was destroyed in a preseason testing accident.
Spencer Massey (3) – As we get down the list, the next two drivers really need to win out to have a shot. We’re giving them a shot because they have cars to do it. Spencer Massey currently sits third in points. In four national event starts, he has a win and a runner-up. Last season he had no problem making final rounds, so it’s not a stretch that he can make three finals in his four nationals left. His weakness has been on the divisional level, notching only two runner-ups in five starts. Needs to win two out of his next three to have a shot, if not all. Being one of the best leavers in the category in a fast hot rod, he’s not out of the hunt, but has no room for error.