NITRONIC RESEARCH AA/FD LIST NOTES FOR 12TH NITRO NATIONALS by Cole Coonce, NR Mojo Wire 04/14/00, Los Angeles, CA-The approach to success at Goodguys 12TH Nitro Nationals at Sears Point this weekend may be summed in three words: Back ...
NITRONIC RESEARCH AA/FD LIST NOTES FOR 12TH NITRO NATIONALS
by Cole Coonce, NR Mojo Wire
04/14/00, Los Angeles, CA-The approach to success at Goodguys 12TH Nitro Nationals at Sears Point this weekend may be summed in three words: Back it down.
The weather has been inclement in the last couple of days and the forecast calls for overcast skies. This should make the Sears Point surface a little sketchy for those who insouciantly thundered at Bakersfield, particularly as that track came in on the last two days of the event.
Here's the skinny on what should be a fickle race for those earth-shaking warriors and plunderers of the front-motored Top Fuel circuit who have earned a spot on "the List."
1. WW2-- Although it is a de-stroked mill, the Santa Rosa-based "King of the Chizlers" is never short on horsepower--nor on the knowledge of how and where to apply that muscle. The recent history of the car at this track, whether under the leadership of the late Jim Herbert or new czar Jim Murphy, hasn't been all that auspicious, however. Generally the car goes rounds here, but just when everybody is comfortable, they can boil the baloneys or get loose on the big end as quickly as anybody.
But with that being said, this car is the 3 time VRA Champ for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is the experience Murphy has in getting a variety of drag racing machines down a variety of drag strip surfaces.
This is the Sears Point debut of the WW2 machine in leaner trim--less weight could definitely be a positive factor in getting off the pad without tire spin. Never to be counted out.
2. Gotelli Speed Shop--The team never quite hit their stride at the March Meet, falling to arch-rival the Champion Speed Shop in the first round. *BUT* this team has been able to finesse the Sears Point surface like almost nobody else and took Top Eliminator at the last drag race contested here, the Goodguys 10th Fuel & Gas Championship.
As a rookie, Larry Gotelli, Jr. won the B Main here a this race last year, while setting Top Speed of the Meet at 238 mph. Look for him to dispel any rumblings of "sophomore slump" after going out in the first round at the March Meet last month.
3. Fuller & Dunlap "Midnight"--These guys are an absolute Rubik's Cube of Frustration right now. They failed to qualify in the Top 8 at the March Meet and went out in the semi's of the B Main by blazing the skins. Conversely, Fuller & Dunlap have posted some of their finest numbers here--in fact, this team holds the Sears Point AA/FD elapsed time record with a 5.98--the only "5" posted ever here in this class. A depleted inventory kept them out of the final round here last year.
4. Lee Jennings' California Trucker. Thus far in Y2K, Jenning's badass bowtie-powered fueler hasn't lit up the scoreboards the way it is capable of doing. But hope springs eternal as co-tuner Gene Amaya says, "We're looking forward to running well. The Sonoma track is usually prepped very well and the air is good. As you know, so many things can happen, with any kind of luck we'll be just fine, thank you."
5. Champion Speed Shop--"Handsome Rance" McDaniel wanted to know if Nitronic Research gave out points for being born ugly, he figures with that criteria and with his mug that should move this team up the List a couple of notches. N-o-o-o, we can't rewards homeliness but we do want the world to know that the way he took to the cockpit of the CSS entry last month (replacing self-exiled wunderkind, Sammy "the Crank" Hale) was a thing of beauty.
The ride, perhaps more than any on the circuit, can launch off the pad here like a V2 and not torch the vector vanes. They won't need ugliness as a handicap.
6. Suhr & Lechtenberg's "Orange Crate"--Straight Outta' Waterloo, Iowa, this team is of the corn and they dress like cavemen, but this is one *bad* hot rod. These guys have shown they can run well under a variety of conditions. Proof positive that nitromania grows in the Breadbasket of America as well as other diet staples such as wheat and corn.
7. Steiner & Berger--After a driving manuever worthy of a ballerina pirouetting at 240 mph on one big toe against Ground Zero at the March Meet, the Wily Coyote entry sprained both ankles and needed to be front-halved at the new Stirling chassis shop in Arizona.
The car is off the jig, freshened up and ready for battle. Pit Boss Brad Berger notes that the team is switching mills for this event, temporarily mothballing their stroker motor and installing a "stock" Donovan between the framerails. Again, less torque, better traction is the thinking.
8. Ground Zero--John Eirich's team is deep with nitromania right now and still buzzing from a very popular win at the March Meet, the first such title for that AA/Fuel Geezer Emeritus, "Wild Bill" Alexander. Word is that some guy named Dale Pulde is going to be hanging around this weekend--and he ain't there to put ice in the beer cooler.
These guys are on a roll.
9. Fugowie--After sporadic couple of years in the front-motored fueler wars--underscored by main man Butch Blair questioning his desire to race in this circuit at all--Fugowie is in the house and livin' large. Blair dominated Pro Nitro's aborted Desert Thunder Nat'ls in February, then rocketed to the #2 Qualifier at the March Meet. Definitely in a groove.
10. Smith, Allred & Maher--The defending event champion. Muy unpredictable--but driver Mike McLennan is a fierce competitor.
MORE NR AA/FD LIST NOTES FOR THE NITRO NAT'LS:
Between 18 and 22 AA/Fuel Dragsters are expected to compete for 8 "A" and 8 "B" positions a this event.
The 12th Nitro Nationals Nostalgia Drags will go down April 15 & 16, Sonoma, CA. Saturday Pro Qualifying will be held at 11am and 2pm. Sunday eliminations at Noon.
Sears Point Raceway is located at the intersection of Hiways 37 and 121, north of San Francisco.