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“They also serve who only stand and wait.” – John Milton, in When I Consider How My Light is Spent
They hardly ever get any television time, and they usually get no mention in the race reports, but they have saved the NHRA’s bacon throughout the 2016 Mello Yello season. They are the Top Fuel part-time racers, who help fill out the short fields at national events.
With not enough sponsorship dollars to compete on the entire schedule, they race close to home or on limited schedules, knowing they have little chance of making it more than one or two rounds. They aren’t inferior drivers; they usually just don’t have the money to buy the expensive parts to keep up with the mega teams that dominate the class.
We decided it was time they got acknowledged for their contribution to drag racing. We know it has to be frustrating to keep coming back. Thank you, gentlemen, we appreciate your dedication to the sport.
Here they are in alphabetical order.
Troy Buff, from Spring, TX, started off the year as one of 16 competitors at the Winternationals. He qualified in the No. 13 spot and lost in the first round with a 3.815/315.56 to Richie Crampton’s 3.794/322.73. Buff was No. 11 qualifier at Phoenix but went up in smoke against Clay Millican in the first round.
Buff was at Houston, where his 3.824/316.67 could not get past Shawn Langdon’s 3.772/322.42 in the first round. At Norwalk, Buff turned on the red light against Langdon in the first round.
Returning to the tour at Sonoma, Buff had trouble getting the car to start, handing a first-round bye to Crampton. At Seattle cylinder problems gave him a 3.831/308.50 loss to J.R. Todd’s 3.744/324.59. He did not qualify at St. Louis.
At Dallas, Buff ran 3.849/313.58 to lose to J.R. Todd’s 3.723/324.36 in the first round. He did not qualify at Las Vegas 2. At Pomona he went red and then went up in smoke to finish the season.