What a strange year it has been
he 2007 NHRA year was quite an odd one for me. First, the death of Eric Medlen and the terrible wreck of Kenny Bernstein and John Force (nearly knocking out two of the sport’s most prolific drivers). Our world changes faster than ever now, and we are seeing that be the case more than ever in drag racing. You used to be lucky to keep up with the many crew chief changes. Now, it’s hard to keep up with not only crew chief changes AND what driver is driving for what team owner. Other things happening were the NHRA may soon being owned by another firm. Powerade having a short stay with us. But anyways, it just seemed to be a weird year for me…but let’s get on to the stats. I wanted to recap a few highlights for you:
The first thing I look at every year is where the champs ranked in the top 12 stat wise.
Top 12 and win/loss records…usually the driver with the best or second best win/loss percentage record is the champ…forget all the other stats! What a change this year because of the countdown. While Tony Schumacher had the best average qualify position average and the best elapsed time average, he finished 3rd in win/loss percentage behind Bernstein #1 and Fuller #2. It gets weirder in funny car where Tony Pedregon finished 5th winning 62.5% of his rounds. Tony is ranked 11th in elapsed time, not in the top 12 in MPH BUT finished #1 in average reaction time. The story continues to prove true in pro stock, were Jeg Coughlin finished 3rd in w/l percent behind Anderson and Connolly. As per usual, Jeggie was up towards the top in average reaction time, finishing .001 behind Mike Edwards. Just to show how tight average reaction times are in pro stock…Mike Edwards(#1) average was .030 and #6 ranked, Dave Connolly’s average was .034! Wow, four hundredths of a second difference in average reaction times between 6 drivers! Pro stock motorcycle was the only class where the champ, Matt Smith had the best w/l percentage. Chip Ellis or maybe the G squared team put together some good stats. Chip’s bike had the best average qualifying position with a 2.8 number. Chip didn’t have one elimination run that I would qualify as an “aborted or shutoff” run. (Him and Mike Edwards were the only drivers in all 4 pro classes to have a 100% non-aborted elimination stat.) What may have been Chip’s undoing was a 0-6 holeshot record and not being in the top 12 in average reaction time.
Parity is often mentioned a lot these days, but I’m not sure I’m totally convinced about that. Maybe parity between 5 or 6 drivers, but not among the class as a whole. Here is my reasoning…in top fuel, 31 different drivers qualified for a least one race…only 7 of them have winning records (won more than 50% of their rounds). Same for all the other pro classes…funny car had 25 unique qualifying drivers, 9 with winning records, including Phil Burkart’s part-time 8-4 record. Pro stock is the worst, where 27 different drivers qualified and only 4 had winning records (NOT including Matt Scranton’s 2-1 record). Pro stock motorcycle had 27 unique drivers at 16 different events and 7 riders having winning records. Maybe the most parity in that class as a whole.
Time for my awards and first is the “Yikes that driver is in the other lane again”
TF -It’s a tie…Dave Grubnic racing Rod Fuller and Hillary Will racing Larry Dixon…Dave and Hillary both 0-5 against those drivers.
FC – Scott Kalitta versus anybody…well not really, he did go 2-1 versus Tony Bartone, but was 0-5 versus the other Tony…Pedregon that would be.
PS – Here is a wacky stat for you involving the champ Jeg Coughlin…he goes 2-8 versus Greg Anderson, but is 5-0 versus Allen Johnson AND Mike Edwards…two drivers that are no push-overs!
PSM – This one is just as screwy as pro stock. Matt Smith goes 0-6 versus Andrew Hines, but goes 5-0 versus Chip Ellis and Peggy Llewellyn.
You see that a lot in sports where one team or driver just seems to have another team’s number.
Not the first round again award to Gary Densham…losing 16 times in the first round, second is a tie between Melanie Troxel and Max Naylor with 15.
The lights are on or off goes to Jason Line, 10 holeshot losses and 5 redlight losses this year. But how about Kenny Bernstein? Who said you get worse on the lights with age? He won 4 rounds on holeshots, most in both fuel classes.
Dude I’m Winning Rounds…goes to Greg Anderson with 52, second place to Dave Connolly with 50, third to Rod Fuller with 42. Keep in mind there are 92 possible rounds to win 23 X 4 and 64 in PSM. With that in mind, Matt Smith won 37 rounds (most in PSM) and Robert Hight won 34 (most in funny car).
To sum up, in 2007 the cars and bikes are as quick and fast as ever. All classes except funny car, registered the quickest average elapsed time and mph, with funny car being just a few hundredths off best averages ever.