Postscript to the Pepsi Nightfire Nationals

The Pepsi Nightfire Nationals is one of the pinnacle events in Nostalgia Drag Racing.  Racers and crews work hard and give it their all to win. Therefore, when a driver wins the event for the first time he stands amongst some of the who’s who in our sport. Racers who are true legends in the sport with names like Don Prudhomme and John Force just to name a few.

So when Kris Krabill crossed the stripe in the final round of Nostalgia funny car, he really did become a member of a very elite club of three-time winners of the event, Raymond Beadle being one of those charter members.

This has been a bit of a tumultuous year for Krabill. After spend over a decade with longtime car owner Gary Turner, the two went their different ways after the March Meet. Then a work promotion found Krabill relocating to the Pacific Northwest. This was a blessing in disguise as it gave him an opportunity to drive for one of best-known drag racers in the country, “Uncle” Bucky Austin.
When asked after his victory at Boise late Sunday night, if it was difficult to make the change from his former situation to his current ride with Austin, Krabill responded, “No, not really. I learned a great deal and appreciate everything that Gary did for me. Cory (former Turner crew chief Cory Lee) and I worked well for many years and had a great deal of fun and success, both on and off the track.  But these guys here (Austin team) are just awesome. It’s my job to just drive and do it well, so I just shut up and drive.”

Krabill and Austin really gave notice that this is going to be a very strong alliance and could make some serious waves next year in the funny car points’ chase.

Krabill was very excited about his third trip to the Firebird Raceway’s circle. On the other side, runner-up Jason Rupert, whose car was the most dominant during eliminations, was disappointed and somewhat baffled with the final-round performance of his car.

“We had to change both heads before the final (the first time all weekend the team had taken the heads off the motor) ‘cause it burned out some exhaust valve seats, in the semi’s,” explained Rupert.  “All our heads are the same, so there should have been no change in performance, but when I stepped on the throttle (in the final) the car just never went anywhere.” 

Rupert and the team are left to figure out why the car slowed down nearly two tenths of a second, before next weekend’s match race in Spokane.

Had Rupert won the event, it would have just about given him a lock on his second straight NHRA Heritage Series funny car title. However, now the 2011 DRO AA/FC Challenge champion, John Hale, still is in the hunt. If this reporter’s mathematic skills are correct, Rupert’s lead is sixty-four (444-380) with the California Hot Rod Reunion, the final race in the year coming up in October.

The minimum total of points that Rupert can score is 454, if he does not qualify. However, he must make an attempt to gain those 10 points.  If he does qualify 13th or worse and loses first round he gets another 21 points, which would give Rupert 475 total points. Hale will get 10 for showing up and attempting to qualify, giving him 390. He would then have to qualify better than third and go to the finals to win the Championship by one point. 476-475. This will be an all-time showstopper at the “Patch.”