THE NITRONIC RESEARCH AA/FD LIST EXPECTS TWO WEEKS OF TORRID DRAG STRIP ACTION! by Cole Coonce, NR Mojo Wire 6/08/00, Los Angeles, CA--With summer imminent the heat is being turned up accordingly in the AA/Fuel Dragster wars. Competition for...
THE NITRONIC RESEARCH AA/FD LIST EXPECTS TWO WEEKS OF TORRID DRAG STRIP
by Cole Coonce, NR Mojo Wire
6/08/00, Los Angeles, CA--With summer imminent the heat is being turned up accordingly in the AA/Fuel Dragster wars. Competition for AA/FD's commences in subsequent weekends 2000 miles apart, first at the Goodguys 10th Indy Hot Rod Nationals this weekend (June 9-11), followed by Sacramento Raceway's Nitro Night of Fire/WCTA Jim Herbert Memorial on June 17th & 18th.
As teams prepare for competition for these events, we felt it was incumbent to voice who on the List was going to be doing what, where and how...
Three teams on the List (Gotelli, Champion, Suhr & Lechtenberg) are in competition this weekend at Indy and are not expected to campaign the next weekend at Sacramento. Conversely, the other seven teams on the List *are* expected to race at Sacramento. Here's how it shakes out:
1. WW2. Defending champion of the Jim Herbert Memorial, which is a nice conceptual and emotional touch since Herbert was the previous majordomo of this racecar. Since the car was purchased by Jim "Holy Smokes" Murphy at the end of last season, the team has subscribed to the Bauhaus School of Design "less is more" philosophy, with both the car and driver undertaking a diet as well as shortened stroke and diminished bore to the powerplant. The ensuing numbers have spoken for themselves, with a runner-up finish at the Goodguys March Meet followed by a #1 Qualifying volley at the rain-aborted Nitro Nationals at Sears Point in April.
As a footnote, your humble reporter's e-mail inbox has been lovebombed with diplomatic complaints about tallying the WW2 entries' Nitro Nationals Low ET performance towards further domination of The List. It is no secret to those who were paying close attention in Sears Point that Murphy posted his superlative 6.06 in the preferred right lane during his final qualifying attempt that weekend. The controversy lies in the fact that Murphy had already run in that lane, a practice contrary to traditional drag racing protocol; which is to say during qualifying sessions a team is supposed to change lanes during subsequent attempts.
No matter as far as the arbiters of the List are concerned. It ain't our job to police the staging lanes during a drag race, it's the responsibility of either the sanctioning body or track employees. Take it up with them, we say.
And as a footnote to this footnote, we must remind readers that the List refused to acknowledge WW2's 268 mph time slip at the March Meet, a number that had been recognized as Top Speed of the Meet in race coverage by not only Drag Racer Magazine, but also the Goodguys Gazette. Murphy has gone on record as saying he felt the time was legit, a notion reinforced by tuners as knowledgable as Tim "Chops" Beebe (of Beebe & Mulligan fame, among others). We at NR do not claim to be as smart as Tim Beebe, but feel that the time was pure Orville Redenbacher, particularly when noted that the speed given for the 1/8th mile was 400-odd mph. The List credited Top Speed to Steiner & Berger at 244 mph -- a decision we stand by.
2. Gotelli Speed Shop. Event runner-up from last years' Hot Rod Nationals. An event win waiting to happen as evidenced by the #2 Qualifer spot at SPIR ‹ and this weekend at Indy is as likely as any. Furthemore, the team is on a roll as far as Top End charge: 240 mph Top Speed of the Meet at the aforementioned rain-shortened Nitro Nationals.
3. Fuller & Dunlap. The nitro punditry has declared that as far finding a handle on its tune-up this team was as lost as Stevie Wonder parachuting off of a helicopter into the Canadian Wilderness to play paintball. *BUT* Fuller & Dunlap seem to be on the rebound and out of the woods if their performance at the Pro Nitro Memorial Match Race Madness at Tucson two weeks ago is any barometer. At the high-altitude track, Dunlap dominated a field that included Kent "Thrash" Terry, the Circuit Breaker, and Ty Norton, ultimately posting a 6.29 to take Top Eliminator. (Note: this race did not count towards advancement on the List as it was a 4-car match race; 8-car eliminators and up are the criteria for the List...)
The Sacramento surface, however, is notoriously unforgiving to teams that make a lot of power -- an element of which there is no shortage of for Mike Fuller.
4. California Trucker. A perplexing season thus far. If anybody knows how to make a Rat Motor swipe the cheese it is the CT braintrust of Ray Zeller and Gene Amaya. After succumbing to Fuller & Dunlap in a challenge for position at the season opening Pro Nitro Desert Thunder Nat'ls, they *can't* advance past Dunlap until they challenge him and beat him. They will be tough in Sacramento on the 17th & 18th.
5. Champion Speed Shop. Driver "Handsome Rance" McDaniel has taken to Champion hot seat like a skunk to stink. Overall, the team has been impressive and solid in two performances this year, albeit without rotating the Earth like the team did in '99. The focus and approach for Y2K seems to be maintaining the structural intergrity of the piece and no more boom-boom en route to Low ET. We'll see if this "steady as she goes" strategy pays off this weekend at Indy. Note: Any points gained at Indy will catapult Champion Speed Shop into the 3rd spot on the List.
6. Orange Crate. Waterloo, Iowa's low-slung Suhr & Lechtenberg entry is one bad ass hot rod. Cagey, crafty and diligent, it could be argued that this team was a broken throttle linkage away from stunning the California fueler guys at the March Meet in Bakersfield. If anybody has a home court advantage this weekend, it would be Suhr & Lechtenberg and the Orange Crate... Yes, we know they are from Iowa which is on the other side of the Mississippi River from Indiana, but California front-motored fueler racers think anything East of Vegas might as well be the surface of the Moon. This kind of geographical ignorance could handicap the California cars who are not used to humid racing conditions and might allow a team like Suhr & Lechtenberg, who have posted tremendous numbers all over the Continental US, to flourish.
7. Steiner & Berger. After that notorious metal and heart-twisting 240 mph sleigh ride at the March Meet, a freshened-up chassis has this team looking for a new baseline. They didn't find it at Sears Point. Their next race is at Sacramento, not the most forgiving environment.
8. Ground Zero. This team is on a mission -- and for now, we'll leave it at that.
9. Fugowie. Best of times and worst of times. They dominated the Pro Nitro season opener, qualified 2nd at the March Meet, but got aggressive and blistered the tires on both qualifying passes at Sears Point.
10. Smith, Allred & McLennan. This team has been split more ways than Microsoft after its anti-trust suit. The only constant has been owner Dave Smith and driver Mike McLennan. The results are unknown on whether splitting up Microsoft will cripple the price of their stock. Ditto for this race team.
On the Move: There are a few teams that could catapult themselves onto the List in the next two weekends: If Jack Harris' Nitro Thunder scores either Top Speed, Low ET or the Event Win at Indy he bump Smith & McLennan. If Tedford, Hester & McGee are successful at Sacto, look for them onto advance on the List. k