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We've got it covered

24 Jul 2007
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider

Well, issue number 29 of the 2007 National DRAGSTER publishing season is halfway complete, covering the Pro results from Seattle and Sportsman coverage from Denver. One hundred thirty-two pages from cover to cover, and, speaking of cover, as you can see from the pic at right – an exclusive first look to readers of this column; the official weekly preview doesn’t go up until Thursday – I did decide to go with Beckman.

Part of that, of course, is a tribute to winning back to back in Denver and Seattle and part of it is a little guilt for him being an odd man out on the Denver Pro cover, which you may recall focused on Rod Fuller with a smaller photo of Allen and Roy Johnson. Regular ND readers know that for years now we’ve focused on only putting one winner on the cover – though sometimes we do still use two; there was a time when we used to put all four on there – but I just felt that both the Top Fuel and Pro Stock winners deserved to be on after Denver for different but equal reasons.

One of the other big decisions about who goes on the cover is photo quality, and if you know anything about photography, you know what trying to shoot color photos under cloudy skies means, and you can appreciate the sticky situation from Seattle. We looked at a ton of “Fast Jack” photos shot by Teresa Long, Marc Gewertz, and Richard Brady before deciding on this one. Me, I’m partial to head-on burnout shots and we had a nice one, but Jack’s silver car really suffered under gray skies, so we went with something that showed the car’s bright side, so to speak.

I also loved the bottom shot of the team hoisting Jack on their shoulders like a winning quarterback. That's track specialist Lanny Miglizzi on the far left and From the Road blogger Harry Strunk (how lucky is that guy?) to his left.

I wish I could take credit for the catchy main blurb – “Back-to-back Jack” -- but I have to give kudos elsewhere this week. I’ve written 99 percent of those wacky lines over the last 20 years and take great pride in my horrible puns and/or witty word play when it comes to cover blurbs – everything from John Force’s recent Bristol win that began his climb back into the Countdown and inspired me to jot down “Johnny’s Quest” (you can tell I’m a teenager from the ‘70s) to one of my all-time favorites, from 1990, when Dodge-sponsored racers Darrell Gwynn and Darrell Alderman both won the Gatornationals: “Dodge lets ‘em have it with both Darrells” – but this week, I got out-blurbed by Jill Caliendo, who works in NHRA’s Marketing department and is the fiancée of ND Senior Editor Kevin McKenna. I already had the full-color page proof of the cover with my original blurb – “Jack be quick” – that I thought was pretty spiffy and was showing it off to Kevin, who then shared Jill’s idea with me. So we made the change.

Even as this week’s issue was getting close to wrapping up, the staff already was beginning work on next week’s issue, which includes Sportsman coverage from Seattle. Kevin and fellow Senior Editor Steve Waldron will have to turn around their respective coverage of Top Alcohol Dragster and Super Stock quicker than normal to head out for Sonoma Thursday. Me, I’m looking forward to my fourth conversation in five weeks with the simply amazing David Rampy, one of my all-time favorite interviews. He’s colorful but humble 100 percent of the time.

I spent some time on the phone this afternoon with Cory McClenathan, who called me from the airport in Las Vegas. I had text-messaged him yesterday after hearing about Wes Cerny leaving the team, looking for a comment, but couldn’t reach him. Even though he and Cerny are the best of buddies, he knows that the decision was the right one at this time and told me that he and Cerny expressed to one another that they’re each just a phone call away if either needs something.

The Cerny departure news came to us from Griffin, who reached out to NHRA.com scribe Rob Geiger. Rob has an excellent relationship with so many people, and we’ve shown time after time -- as we have in ND -- that we can help teams put accurate information out to a mass audience and beat the rumor mongers to the punch. Geiger was taking a mini vacation with his wife, Lori, in Monterey (on the coast close to Sonoma), so he called me – interrupting lunch – with the news. I tracked down Griffin to write the story on NHRA.com, to which I’ll add Cory’s quotes when it sees print in this week’s Bits From The Pits.

I also spent an hour on the phone this afternoon with John Force, discussing a lot of stuff that I’m not currently privy to share but that will come out in time -- perhaps not even that long away -- and that will be of interest to all race fans. The man has so much going on I don’t know how he stays upright (though he did tell me that he got a really good report from his doctor after an extensive checkup - including treadmill and other tests -- so don’t look for him to “seize up” anytime soon). He was very supportive of his daughter Ashley following her accident in Seattle and says that she’s ready and rarin’ to go in Sonoma. “She’s got the heart of a lion,” he told me.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Thanks for reading, and check back often. You never know what you’re going to find here.