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(Photo: Toni Montgomery)

Nitro Shots: Thank You For Your Support

NHRA drag racing has support series just like most other forms of motorsports (i.e. Monster Energy Cup and XFINITY, or Verizon IndyCar and Indy Lights), but there is one big difference between how these other support series function versus how things work in drag racing.

In NASCAR, the XFINITY series races as part of the same race weekend as the Monster Energy Cup Series many times, but that’s usually accomplished by having XFINITY race the day or night before the Cup Series. In drag racing, the Lucas Oil Series drivers (a.k.a. the sportsman classes) race all through the weekend alongside the Mello Yello Series drivers.

Drag racing is just different. Cars come out and make one run down the track and then go back and tune or rebuild in preparation for the next run, usually a couple of hours later during qualifying, and an hour or so later during eliminations. No one wants to just sit there and wait, so the classes, sportsman and pro alike, run on a rotation through the weekend.

So the sportsman classes get a lot more viewership than say the XFINITY or Truck series for NASCAR because fans don’t need to buy a separate ticket and come on a different day, so it’s a big win for them, right? Well, not necessarily. Fans still like to walk around, visit the pits, get something to eat, regardless of whether or not sportsmen are running.

There is also the small matter of the schedule. NHRA does everything it can to keep the pro classes on the advertised schedule, something that doesn’t necessarily happen if you go to any other drag racing series. The NHRA, with TV coverage in particular on the line, takes great pains to stay on schedule.

Drag racing is drag racing though, and the best laid plans don’t always work. There are oil downs or weather or other delays sometimes. Anyone who has been to a big radial event like Lights Out or a PDRA race knows that the schedule tends to be merely a suggestion as all the classes are given their turn on the track. In NHRA, if the schedule looks like it’s getting off the plan due to delays or weather, well, the pro classes will still run at the advertised times and it’s the sportsman who take the hit, being pushed to later run times or having qualifying rounds cut all together.

So the big questions here are: Is running alongside the pro classes the benefit it would appear on the surface or are these racers better off when they run without the pros? If they are, what would NHRA do to fill the gaps in the show if just the pros ran? Would fans even miss these classes running during a Mello Yello Series weekend?

Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts below.

Two-time Pro Mod champion Troy Coughlin. (Photo courtesy Geiger Media)

What’s News?

* A new national record was set in Pro Mod at the Gatornationals as Eric Latino posted a run of 5.727 seconds at 256.36 mph. The really crazy part perhaps is that he did not win the round, beaten by Troy Coughlin on a .081-second holeshot. Coughlin ran 5.758 seconds at 255.10 mph, also a strong pass, and when combined with Latino’s national record time, it makes for the quickest side-by-side run in Pro Mod drag racing history.

* Time is almost up to get your vote in for your favorite Pro Stock driver for the K&N Horsepower Challenge. The all-star race for the class, the K&N Horsepower Challenge happens Saturday, April 1, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as part of the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals weekend.

Go to http://bit.ly/2KNVote2017 to vote for your favorite Pro Stock driver.

Hey Y’All, Watch This:

Pro Stock motorcycle rider Andrea Rawlings found herself in a bit of trouble on a run in Gainesville when her bike headed straight toward the left-side retaining wall. Rawlings muscled the bike and did a great job getting it off the wall without either dropping the bike or falling off. Remember that these bikes do not steer other than by the lean of the riders body.

NHRA 101: Power Adder

The big talk in the Pro Mod class, particularly with the coming four-wide debut coming up, is generally about power adders. Who is running which one, who wants to switch to a different one, and which one is the best? But what is a power adder? It’s a secondary system added to a car to help boost the horsepower and speed of the car. In Pro Mod, there are three kinds of power adders teams can use. They can run nitrous oxide systems, turbos, or blowers. All Nitro cars run blowers. Pro Stock cars do not run any power adders and rely only on their naturally aspirated engines.

The big excitement surrounding the four-wide Pro Mod debut is the idea that for the first time it might be possible that all three types of power adders, turbo, nitrous, and blower, might end up racing side by side at the same time.

NHRA on TV:

ProgramDate/TimeChannel
SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT NHRA NATIONALS
QualifyingFriday, June 23, 10:30 PM ETFS1
QualifyingSunday, June 25, 12:00 AM ETFS1
EliminationsSunday, June 25, 6:00 PM ETFS1

About Toni Montgomery

Toni Montgomery
A writer for Frontstretch since 2002, and editor since 2006, Toni heads up the NHRA coverage for the site. She’s responsible for post-race coverage in the weekly Pace Laps multi-series round-up along with the weekly Nitro Shots column featuring news and features from the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. An award-winning writer for the Presbyterian Church, Toni freelances with both writing and web design in North Carolina.

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