Tricky Tipster, NHRA National Dragster's own wizard of odds, doesn’t get points for near misses so the recently completed Bristol race resulted in a disappointing 0-4 blowout. Quickly, turning our attention to Norwalk, look for Steve Torrence, Courtney Force, Jeg Coughlin Jr., LE Tonglet, and Mike Janis as the favorites.
The Capco crew made it to the semifinals on a hot day in Bristol but clearly they expected more. That’s how you’re supposed to feel when you’ve won four of the first ten events.
Looked like the Sarge of old with his remarkable Bristol performance. After a brief adjustment period, the combination of Mike Neff and Phil Shuler appears to be a nice fit for the eight-time champ
Parts Plus/Great Clips
He loves racing at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park and the Norwalk fans love him back. So far, it’s been an amazing season for one of the sport’s most popular drivers and a win here would only make it better.
Anyone else think that Bristol was his race to win after the first round? It certainly seemed to be even though he eventually lost in the quarterfinals. Norwalk is practically home for the Kalitta crew, so a win here would be huge.
Monster Energy/Advance Auto Parts
The Force dragster does not have a round win in the first three legs of this four-in-a-row summer swing which is very odd considering the world champ has qualified No. 2, No. 2, and No. 5 in those three events. Better days ahead.
Papa John’s Pizza/Pennzoil
Up and down season that had one of its low points last week in Bristol with a first-round loss. Norwalk should be a better showing for both the Top Fuel and Factory Stock teams.
Amalie Motor Oil
Remember the days when this guy had to scratch and claw just to have a whiff of the top ten? They’re pretty much over at this point. This is a sold Countdown contender that might even do some damage once he gets there.
Pronto Service Center/BVR
The Vandergriff Motorsports entry has only been to three races so far this season but has tallied six round wins including a final in Atlanta and a semi in Chicago. Kind of makes you wonder what might happen if they had full season funding.
Advance Auto Parts Chevy
Didn’t win in Bristol but another strong qualifying performance and a semifinal finish is not half-bad. This will likely be the top-ranked car in the class until someone says otherwise and it’s likely she’ll enter the Countdown as the No. 1 seed.
Last week’s Bristol win might have been one of his most impressive because it was likely the most challenging conditions the fuel teams will encounter this season. If crew chief Rahn Tobler and the NAPA crew can win there, they can pretty much win anywhere.
Auto Club Chevy
Bristol results were actually better than they showed since he gave Capps all he could handle when they raced in round two. The Auto Club team should be able to thrive during Norwalk’s nighttime qualifying rounds.
Had a 4.2-second bracket car in Bristol and as odd as that may sound, it was good enough for a semifinal finish for the second-straight race. He also had a .034 light which can often steal a round in Funny Car racing.
Bob Tasca III
Motorcraft Quick Lane Ford
With a new car and new crew, this first half of the season has been all about building momentum and so far, they’ve built a lot of it. Got to think the best is yet to come for the Blue Oval crew.
Infinite Hero Dodge
Made four runs between 4.060 and 4.078 to win last year’s Summit Racing Equipment Nationals and it’s not at all out of the question to think he can do just that one more time this year.
The Schumacher team appears to have slipped out of their early-season funk with Capps most recent win in Bristol but it’s important to remember that this guy was their star at the beginning of the season.
Tommy Johnson Jr.
During his Bristol interviews, noted that the Make-A-Wish team had turned the corner and were a lot more confident in their set-up. There is no reason to think that isn’t the case.
Jeg Coughlin Jr.
So who found the time machine and turned the clock back to 2000? Three wins in three weeks (including the Richmond Super Comp title) is remarkable and it would not be wise to bet against a fourth-straight win for the yellow and black.
Summit Racing Camaro
Are you the glass half-full or a glass half empty type? Zero wins on the season is bad, but don’t forget he’s the points leader and he’s been the low qualifier at seven of the first 11 races. Being winless is troublesome, but things could be a lot worse for the Summit flagship.
Gray Manufacturing Technologies Camaro
Holeshot loss in Bristol probably didn’t sit well with him so thankfully he’ll have another shot to make things right in just a few days. He wasn’t exactly napping but expect him to be better than .030 on the Tree the next time.
Skillman Auto Group Camaro
The Gray Motorsports team appears to have found a bit more power since the beginning of the season and this guy is happy to have it. Semifinal showing in Bristol was solid and could easily have been a final if not for a red-light.
Mountain View Camaro
Things change quickly in Pro Stock. A month ago, he was the hottest driver in the class. He’s cooled off a bit but remains a big threat. Also has a great history in Norwalk with a double-win.
While she’s got the ability to win any race via a holeshot, that isn’t always the preferred method. Sometimes, it’s wise to have the best car and that hasn’t been the case for the past few events for the two-time world champ.
Harlow Sammons Camaro
Had a chance to stop Coughlin in Bristol but couldn’t get down the track in round two. Any one of a dozen Pro Stock drivers could win this event, including this guy.
Butner Auto Camaro
They say defending a championship is harder than winning one. After the first 11 events of the season, he’d likely agree. Almost time for the KB crew to find another gear if they’ve got one.
Nitro Fish Suzuki
Hard to find fault with someone who is arguably the best rider in the class on what is arguably the best bike in the class. It makes for a dangerous combination. He might not match last year’s six-win total, but then again, he just might.
Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson
The last couple of events have not been kind to the reigning champion but one of his strengths is that he rarely struggles for long. He’s also done well at this track historically with two wins in three finals.
Smith Racing Victory
Won here in 2013 and was a runner-up last year and its probably safe to say that his bike wasn’t as fast in those years as it is right now. He also appears to have cured some of the reliability woes that have been around for the last year or two.
Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson
So far this year, he’s done everything but win a race. An 11-5 record is nothing to be ashamed of and he’s qualified in the top four at every event. Got to think a win is coming soon, especially since he’s got four of them at this track.
White Alligator Suzuki
Historically, the White Alligator team is at their best from mid-season on and guess what? The Norwalk event marks the mid-season point in the NHRA Mello Yello Series.
Hector Arana Jr.
Lucas Oil EBR
Qualified No. 1 at two of the last three races and remains the only rider in the class to officially crack the 200-mph mark. Might not get another 200-mph time slip until the weather cools off, but that shouldn’t prevent him from getting his first win of the season, which appears imminent.
Suzuki Extended Protection Suzuki
Qualifying performances have suffered a bit lately but he’s still the No. 4 ranked rider in the class. The Suzuki teams have encountered a few reliability issues lately and once they’re addressed it’s fair to expect better results.
Denso Spark Plugs Buell
This bike is quick but qualifying in the middle of the pack is tough because it often means a quarterfinal race against the top qualifiers. Picking up just one or two more qualifying spots could make a big difference come race day.
Janis Suprchargers Camaro
Not sure how many folks saw this coming but he’s the new points leader following his impressive Bristol victory. Now the challenge is to hold on to the lead which won’t be easy with 32-cars entered this week.
“Trickie Rickie” doesn’t red-light often but he gave one away in Bristol which means he’s bound to show up in Norwalk with a giant chip on his shoulder. He won’t rest until he gets the points lead back.
At the halfway point of the 2018 season the AAP team is ranked fifth in the standings, 139-points out of the lead. They can still win the championship but it’s going to take a couple of wins (at least) to do it. A final round here would be a huge help.
He only missed four races during his “retirement” but there still figures to be a bit of rust and a learning curve with a new car. He’s been to the final here in four of the last eight years.
His driving performance in Bristol was masterful and he’s now ranked third in the E3 Pro Mod standings which means a second championship is well within reach. Can’t afford a letdown after huge victory, though.
Danny Rowe Racing Camaro
Enjoyed his best race of the season in Bristol with a semifinal finish and was rewarded with a spot in the top ten. With a little luck, that semifinal could easily have turned into a victory.
WYO Motorsports Camaro
Quickly recovered from Richmond DNQ with a solid runner-up finish in Bristol. Three-races in three weeks will test every Pro Mod team but this crew figures to be on the upswing.
If nothing else, got to love his heart and desire. Had his second crash of the season in Bristol but he’ll be back this week with the car he drove to the semi’s in Gainesville, which has since been repaired.