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It seems like just a few days ago and everybody was west bound and down headed for “The Patch” and opening race of the Heritage Series, the March Meet.
Once again, the same scenario is playing out; however, now it is for the final event of the year, the NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion (Oct. 23-25).
It has been a very interesting season, where the defending champion in funny car parked his ride to take care of business concerns. His crew chief decided to take his talents to another camp.
After the Nightfires, that camp decided a change was need in the driver department when the car made it to the finals of a double-up race. (Finals from a rained out Salt Lake City, and the Nightfire event as well.) However, he could not close the deal on either event.
It might have something to do with personal chemistry, but when that change was made and the new driver was put in the seat it appeared the team had a different feel to it. That new feel meant a win at the final Saturday Night Nitro.
This year was also a very, very sad year, as we said goodbye to a true gentleman of the sport and in life in general. Roger Garten left us, not due to some unfeeling disease such as cancer or something of that nature; he left of natural causes doing one of the things he loved to do, driving his racecar. I imagine that is of little solace to his beautiful wife, Carlene, but trust me it is better than seeing someone pass due to cancer.
On to a happier note, even though Tony Bartone has once again locked up the Top Fuel title, there is a close race for second between Bill Dunlap in the High Speed Motorsports dragster and Dusty Green in Steve Harwood’s “Nitro Hemi” digger. There is just 26 points separating the two. It will be interesting to see if Green can pull the slide job (Dusty also wheels sprint cars) on the veteran Dunlap and take the second place spot and the cash that goes with it.
This will also be the second Heritage Series race for the new dynamic duo of Jim Murphy and Roland Leong. Rumor has it the two have found something special and hopefully the Reunion will be the debut of this find.
Moreover, do not count out the Champion Speed Shop bunch with “The” Adam Sorokin at the controls; this team is always strong. As is the remainder of the Top Fuel armada, as most of them are based on the I-5 corridor between San Diego and Fresno.
As for the flopper fraternity, it appears the strong silent type has a firm control on the point lead. Starting at the March Meet Steven Densham has been in control, taking the wins at both Bakersfield and Boise. He missed the hat trick in Salt Lake City by the luck of draw. Had a solid event at the Nightfires, and comes into the Reunion with a 64-point lead over “Hollywood” Kris Krabill, 388-324.
Robert Overholser, formerly of the “California Hustler” ride, is in third with 302 points, and two points behind is Richard Townsend. Not sure if Overholser will be at the Reunion and if so whose car he will be driving.
Townsend has a chance after his win at the Salt Lake event. The “Nitrohaulic” has a very slim one but there is still a chance to jump up and steal a win and a championship. But it is Krabill who has the best chance at taking victory from the hands of defeat. A great many things must go right, but that is why we race these cars and not play it on paper.
In Group One, A/Fuel, Dr. Kin Bates and Bill Wayne are one and two in the points. Dr. Bates has a comfortable 66-point lead over Wayne going into the reunion.
In Junior Fuel it’s down to J.D. Zink and Scott Parks to determine the title. Zink has a 17-point lead over Parks with just one round of racing difference between these two.
And in 7.0 Pro, it is down to Bobby Cottrell and Mike Peck for the title. Cottrell has a 25-point lead going into the event -- two rounds of racing.
The Junior Fuel and 7.0 Pro titles could come down to the little point in qualifying.
One last piece of sad news for many of us who can’t make it to the Reunion, it appears that there has been some sort of snafu between the internet’s BangShift.com and the NHRA. This means for the first time in many years tens of thousands of people around the world will not be able to enjoy the California Hot Rod Reunion.
Here is hoping they can work it out as the broadcast has become a staple and being able to enjoy this telecast has encouraged many of fan to save up some money and make the pilgrimage to see this event in person.
As I said in the opening time just seems to fly by and the next thing we know it will be time for the March Meet again. For you who are going to the Reunion, have a good time, be safe, and reach out to the rest of us who are stuck at home being responsible and let us know how it is going.