NHRA Racing Doesn't Get Any Better...
Most sanctioning bodies are focused on making changes to their sport that will add to the "fan experience." In drag racing, pit road is now accessible to fans who can watch teams as they prepare for every run. Drivers are now responsible for conducting autograph sessions as well as pleasantly engaging with fans and media, even on days when things aren't going that well. But, what has come from this fan-centric attitude is the best racing in the history of the sport. Although the John Force racing Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car doesn't look like anything you'll see on the showroom floor, fans are rallying behind manufacturer's again and pulling for one brand over another.
So, who is responsible for the great drag racing that fans are seeing weekend after weekend? The answer is simple, everyone with something to sell. From the auto manufacturers to the sanctioning body to event sponsors, engaging with race fans (or sports fans in general) is filling seats at National events. And the racing, it has never been better. Once again, Mother Nature cooperated and the Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway (located well to the east of Atlanta and just north of Commerce GA) had beautiful weather with record crowds awaiting the outcome of some of the best races of the season.
In the Pro Stock final, Houston winner Bo Butner in his KB Racing Camaro lined up next to two-time champion Erica Enders driving for Elite Motorsports who is also running the bow-tie brand in 2017. Although the holeshot went to Enders, Butner's 6.569 topped Ender's 6.593 making him the first repeat champion in Pro Stock this year. In the Funny Car final, Ron Capps made it three-straight race wins for NAPA Auto Parts with a 7/100ths better reaction time to topple Tim Wilkerson in the pair's first meeting of this season. Top Fuel point's leader Leah Pritchett brought the fans to their feet in Round One with a new track record at 3.699. Capco Contractor's Steve Torrence eliminated Pritchett in the semi-final round. Torrence backed up his win from last weekend at Charlotte with a 320.81 mph run eliminating archrival Tony Schumacher in the final.
One thing is for certain, E3 Spark Plugs race fans have a lot to cheer about with the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series going down to the wire every week. Teams have the week off as racing heads west for the sensory-filled Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals outside Topeka KS.