Sept. 2, 2006
...........if the NHRA still had the old point version.
The NHRA new point format (at the bottom of this editorial) has certainly garnered opinions from almost every source, media and racer like and not too many have been positive. Jon Asher (competitionplus), Jeff Wolf (Las Vegas Journal) and Shirley Muldowny (competition plus, scroll down the page), all have the same negative outlook, but all three are quite different in their reasoning. Rod Fuller and Gary Scelzi are possibly being PC in their comments, but both say they are excited about the big change. With the biggest race of the year anticipated for many since the Western swing, to have this announcement prior to the race has taken much of the hoopla out of the "Big Go".
What does SpeedZone think about the new format? There are a few positives, like the potential tight chase down to the final two events, but the top eight who had earned the right to battle for the championship, will be whittled down to just four with two races to go. That part of the count down is perhaps as dumb an idea as I have ever heard.
Sponsorship will become a huge issue (like it isn't already in the NHRA), for teams who are marginally funded or even fairly well funded but aren't top eight after Reading in 2007. Are performance incentives going to part a role for corporation footing the bill to Pro teams And when I say incentives, I really mean holdbacks unless you make the final eight.
Speedzone will take upon the task in 2007 to tally points for every team in two ways.
!. All teams will start from scratch at Indy and we will see how every team fairs through the end of the season. If one of the teams outside the "8" jelled in the last 1/3 of the season and earns more points than those in the new look "top eight", they will be awarded "Zone plaques". Ya it's not a wad of cash or national recognition, but at least they will get a bit of press on our site.
2. Speedzone will tally the points from Indy through the end of the season just like the way it is now, and SpeedZone and our readers will see how the season would have finished off the "Old Way"! It will be the official "NHRA SpeedZone points standings". My bet is that at least one driver in each of the four Pro categories will have had a better final eight point total than one or more of the "Final 8".
With new teams starting up in 2007, like Kenny Bernstien heading back to the nitro coupe class, Jeg Coughlin getting back into Pro Stock and David Poewers starting a new TF team, it may take over half a season for them to gel, and the last 1/3 or 1/2 may see one of those teams go from outside the top 10 into the top five. Should they not be rewarded (and recieve earned press) for their efforts.
The two likely combatants for rookie of the year (Road to the Future), Hillary Will and JR. Todd and to a lesser extent, Mike Ashley would not be in the chase for the championship if it was run in 2006. V. GAines is only one and a half rounds out of eighth, too bad for him. He is racing for NADDA the rest of the year.
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GLENDORA, Calif. --
"After the grueling 17-race schedule, the field will be reduced to the top eight in the points standings, for a four-race playoff series to determine the field of four who will ultimately vie for NHRA POWERade World Championships. This format makes every race in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series schedule that much more important," said Compton. "There is nothing in motorsports that rivals the traditional Sunday elimination brackets that have been a part of NHRA POWERade Drag Racing for years. By applying that elimination concept to determine the series points standings, we have by far the most intriguing and suspenseful battle for any championship in all of motorsports."
In the "Countdown to Eight," representing the first 17 races of the season, competitors in all four NHRA POWERade professional categories, Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle, will battle each and every race to secure a position in the Top Eight in the points standings, with the final race to reach the "NHRA POWERade Countdown to the Championship" being the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., Aug. 16-19.
Once set, the "Countdown to Four" begins at the most prestigious drag racing event in the world, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at historic O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis, Labor Day weekend. The Top Eight in each category will have their points adjusted. First place in the standings will begin the countdown with 2,070 points; second place with 2,060 points and so on to eighth place starting with 2,000 points.
The "Countdown to Four," will consist of four races with the last race being the Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park near Richmond, Va., Oct. 5-7. Following that race, the "Countdown to One" begins when the top four in each category have their points adjusted yet again. First place in the standings will begin the final two races with 3,030 points; second place with 3,020 points; third place with 3,010 points and fourth place with 3,000 points.
The final two races of the season, the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Oct. 18-24, followed by the season finale, the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Nov. 1-4, will see the final four competitors battling it out for the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing World Championship.
No team has ever come back from outside the Top Eight with six races remaining to win the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series World Championship under the current point system.
"Traditionally, prior to the final six races of the season only a few teams still have had a shot at winning a POWERade World Championship. Under this new program, eight teams in each of the professional categories will have a legitimate chance to win," said Compton.
Beginning in 2007, the NHRA POWERade World Champion in Top Fuel and Funny Car will receive a $100,000 Countdown Bonus making the total payout to win the POWERade World Championship $500,000 in each category. In Pro Stock, the POWERade World Champion will receive a Countdown Bonus of $50,000, making the total payout $250,000 and, in Pro Stock Motorcycle, the Countdown Bonus will be $25,000, making the total payout $75,000 to win the POWERade World Championship. In addition to announcing the POWERade Countdown to the Championship, NHRA will increase the total year-end payouts for the Top Eight in the four professional categories to more than $2 million.
The format at all 23 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series national events will remain the same and feature competitors in the professional categories qualifying for spots in the 16-car fields for Sunday's elimination round.