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Since I was given the honor to write this column on a monthly or semimonthly basis, I have been critical of the Nostalgia Top Fuel teams for their issues with killing parts and oiling racetracks. Which then, in effect, kills a show due to lengthy oil-down clean ups, such as happened this past March and last October at Bakersfield.
Well, it appears that maybe there has been a bit of a 'coming to Jesus' meeting between the car owners, because at the last two events there has not been an oil-down by any of the Top Fuel cars, at either Bowling Green or Boise.
Not to say that there hasn't been engine carnage (there has), but the teams have been able to contain it to where “stuff” does not get on the track. Jim Murphy and the Champion Speed Shop guys both had major boomers at Boise and neither time did oil get on the track. This is a step in the right direction, and I must commend those owners in the Top Fuel class who have worked on their containment systems.
However, that is only a start. From this perspective, there needs to be a real effort in working towards making the rules packages for engines and drivetrains in both Top Fuel and Funny Car interchangeable. It is an option for Top Fuel teams at this point but it must be looked at as a permanent change. There has been some pushback on this, but it is the only way that the Top Fuel class is going to remain salient moving forward. It would possibly entice some of those who have Funny Cars and cannot get into a show a chance to make the programs in the Top Fuel side since there the number of cars has drastically diminished. There will be once again pushback on this, saying that it will dilute the quality of the Top Fuel field. I would counter that the class is already diluted to the point that only seven cars made the trip to Boise for one of the biggest events of the year. Will there be sixteen Top Fuel cars at the Reunion? There is no way to say until Friday morning Oct. 18 in Bakersfield, but if not then, there should be a real examination of taking the Funny Car rule package and implementing it on a permanent basis in Top Fuel.
One last thing I am going to sound off on is a very interesting rule concept that got bantered around in Salt Lake at the Heritage Series race. It was an oil-down rule that males sense and might just have enough teeth in it to make teams think twice about how hard they push their equipment. To be open and honest, the idea brought about by a former colleague has an interesting angle to it. In the event of an oil-down (no matter what class), if the offending car had won that round, the team could not return to the pit area to work on the car until the oil-down was cleaned up and the starter gave the command to fire the next pair. In essence the car would be quarantined and could not be touched until the word came from the starter. The car would stay in the turn-off area parked in a safe area. In addition they would incur the losing of lane choice and series points. This would make the turnaround times fair for all those who would move on to the next round. There is an unintended consequence to this. What if the losing car creates the oil-down. Is it fair to force the winning car to wait for the cleanup to be facilitated? No, they did not cause the problem. Once again, the winning car has the advantage of more time to work on the car than the other teams. Or is every team put on a 75-minute turnaround time? That becomes way too involved. I’m not sure what the compete answer is, but I like the concept of this idea. It would be great in the big show, bring some drama to the deal.
What do you think? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope that everybody’s summer was wonderful as the season starts to wind down. It is crazy that the Reunion is just around the corner -- it seems like the March Meet was just last week. A product of getting older I guess. See ya next month.