Sometime, and I'm guessing here, around 1989-1990, the National DRAGSTER staff started doing a midyear report. I used to bitch like crazy when I worked there about doing it. Well, A.) it meant more work, and B.) we were providing little that the fans didn't know already. After all, we assumed most were subscribers and followed our little soap opera down to the minutest detail. How about a movie review instead ora treatise on how "The Shield" has been the most honest portrayal of a big city police force in television history.
Aw, what the hey. Much has changed since those days. I have given up on being a respiratory therapist for reasons too numerous and boring to mention, and now once again I find myself on the streets in a symbolic sense. So, write a column and make a buck, and what better way, outside of male prostitution, to do it than by opining on NHRA season 2002 at the midway point.
The Sportsman cars are too much of a crap shoot, and outside of the alcohol classes, I have no real interest in the things. So I'll nail the yap shut and proceed directly to the cars I have a little knowledge on: The Pros, actually 2 and a half of the Pros. I'm not that big a Pro Stock fan. What I plan to do is give my opinion on who I think will win and throw in some other general comments on the class, etc. A good example is our first contestant, the Top Fuel category.
Short of being shanghaied by Al Qaeda, Dixon and the Dick LaHaie-tuned, Prudhomme-owned Miller Lite car will leave the other nine top 10 contenders twitching in a roadside ditch with the hermit crabs crawling over them.
At the completion of the Pontiac Excitement Nationals, Dixon has won six national event titles, and will likely win four more. No one is running in the same solar system with these guys when it comes to consistency.
Gee, Martin, really went out on a limb here, didn't you? Well, this hasn't been a totally-dominated year by Force, given the fact that as of June 20, he was only one tick behind teammate Gary Densham in the POWERade points (764-763). In fact, in third place, teammate Tony Pedregon is not all that far back with 688 points.
Lemme, tell you an old story. I think it was either the 1997 or 1998 Winston Funny Car points race and both Force and Tony Pedregon were very, very close in the top 10 standings. At the time, Force was coming under some scrutiny as were all two-car team owners about the necessity of having to throw an individual race so that he (Force) wouldn't lose ground in a tight points race. To paraphrase, Force responded, "That the fans could expect a head-up, genuine race anytime he and Tony met. However, when pressed further along the lines of, "But John, what if it came down to a final round of the PowerAde Finals, and the issue came down to you and Tony in the final," what would you do? Force said, he would calmly get out of the car, fire Tony, make a single, tow up the return road and rehire him.
The point of all this boom-shockalocka-boom, is I still think Force wants that No. 1 on the side of his car. Right now, I think Densham's mount is running better than John's, and Tony's is nearly dead even with him. But if push came to shove and it was extremely tight in late October, I, to put it gently, think John would find a way to win another championship. Hey, it's his money, and we live in a capitalist dictatorship.
As for a deserving Bazemore or fifth-place Del Worsham, it will take a miracle to outlast those above three cars.
As of June 20, Jim Yates held a 764 to 678-point lead over second-place points man and defending POWERade champ Warren Johnson with 2000 champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. out of the top five and Ron Krisher (585) in the distance. Pro Stock's a weird class, and an 86-point lead at this point in the season may be too much for even as great a racer as "W.J." to overcome. If Coughlin could find more elapsed time, the kind that he showed when he ran a sport's best 6.75, 204 at Maple Grove, I'd pick him to win it all even as far back as he is now. Jeg Jr., I think is still the best driver in the class, but Yates and W.J. make just enough more power to stave off any late season charge. It'll be Yates in a close one.
Okay, that handles the Pros. Pro Stock Motorcycle is a legit Pro class, but I've never liked the bikes save for the fuel burners. However, I think Angelle Savoie will make the NHRA Pro Pass of the year with a 6.98 at Maple Grove or September Chicago race.
In general, Top Fuel has been relatively boring. Dixon and Kenny have won eight of the first 11 races, amplifying the theme that budget determines everything in drag racing. . .or nearly everything.
Funny Car? It's definitely the most competitive of the two blown classes, but the days when an out-of-pocket team like the Frank Hawley and the "Chi-Town Hustler" bunch can get by on sheer ability have gone the way of Woodsie the Owl. Too bad, leaving aside Tim Wilkerson, the other nine top 10 cars are multi-team cars.
These are not necessarily the good old days.
Pro Stock? Who cares?
On that cheery note, I will push on ahead. See 'ya in a couple.
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