After watching a couple of longshots hit the pay window at the recent Denso Spark Plugs Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas, Tricky Tipster has set the line for NHRA's annual stop at Royal Purple Raceway and has given the top billing to Steve Torrence, Ron Capps, Bo Butner, and Pro Mod's Rickie Smith.
The only repeat winner of the year with titles in Phoenix and Las Vegas and he’s returning to his home in Texas for a shot at a third win. That has all the makings of a Texas-sized celebration
Winless this season but he’s just 33-points out of first place which means a lot has gone right for the Army team so far. Torrence would argue that he’ll never be a true Texan, but he does hang his hat in Austin.
Been to four finals here with a pair of wins so his record at Royal Purple Raceway is solid. Hard to imagine that he’ll go much longer without a victory.
Scored back-to-back wins here in 2015-16 and in case anyone didn’t notice, the Kalitta team is on fire this year with three wins in the first four events of the year. They have clearly fixed some of their 2017 issues.
Papa John’s Pizza/Dodge
At the risk of belaboring the point, this team has been very solid in qualifying but not as dominant on race day. We’re only four races into the season so there is no need to hit the panic button but a final round would sure feel good right now.
Parts Plus/Great Clips
A bit of tire smoke in Las Vegas prevented what could have been another final round appearance. Lots of teams did the same thing so that’s hardly a barometer of how close this gang is to their second win.
That earlier note about the success of the Kalitta camp? This team already has a win and they’ve done nothing but improve since Crampton joined the fold last September.
Getting back to championship form is a work in progress but the recent Las Vegas race, where she qualified No. 2, was a big step in the right direction. Expect to see a few more round wins in the very near future.
Why’s the NAPA team No. 1. Why not? They win a lot and they’ve got a sparkling record in Baytown with four wins in five finals since 2006. That should be enough.
Infinite Hero Dodge
For what it’s worth, the Infinite Hero team is holding the points lead. That might not mean a whole lot after just four races, but it is a sign of consistency. A win in Gainesville and a Vegas runner-up don’t hurt either.
Ace wheelman got the job done in Sin City with a couple of holeshot wins. As the Funny Car class continues to get more and more competitive, the drivers who can cut a light are going to reap the rewards.
Advance Auto Parts Camaro
A bit of a gamble here but she did win this event two years ago and had arguably the best car in Las Vegas with a very impressive 3.92 that held up for low E.T. of the race. A win by any Force car would be huge at this point.
Mopar Express Lane Dodge
You almost feel guilty having this team in the No. 6 spot because they are so darned good and can win almost anywhere. Hard to find much to complain about here including Vegas red-light.
Auto Club Camaro
Four races in and the reigning Mello Yello champ is still searching for his first win. That’s not an intolerable number but they certainly don’t want to wait too much longer. Expect to see at least one win during the upcoming swing of three-straight races.
Tommy Johnson Jr.
Familiar situation here. A strong team that can got the distance at any time but has yet to do so this season. Houston has not been particularly great to them, but that’s also subject to change on short notice.
Global Electric Technology Toyota
The week before a grueling stretch of the season that features seven races in 10 weeks and where is he? Bracket racing in the Carolina’s for $50K. There is a method to the madness and it’s shown in his quick transition to nitro Funny Car.
Butner Auto Camaro
A year ago, he had zero Pro Stock wins and one weekend in Houston changed everything. Now he’s going back to Baytown with a championship ring and the current points lead.
Two weeks ago, we (sort of) predicted a win in the K&N Horsepower Challenge and he delivered. His career record also includes three wins at this track.
Harlow Sammons Camaro
Go figure. He’s a Texan who lives almost 600 miles from Houston but that doesn’t change the fact that he’d love to win this race. And, given the power of his Harlow Sammons Camaro, he might just do that.
Mountain View Racing Camaro
Hard to put into words how big his Las Vegas win was for the morale of the Mountain View team. Now, they need to put that momentum to good use and make a run at the points lead. He’s also a two-time Houston winner.
The four-time world champ has slipped under the radar a bit this year but he’s only 54-points out of first place so things can’t be all bad. No need to hit the panic button. There is plenty of time to bag a couple of wins this year.
Gray Manufacturing Technologies Camaro
Enjoyed his best qualifying performance of the year in Las Vegas (No. 7) which is a big step in the right direction. Needs to get a hundredth or two closer to the leaders and then let his clutch foot do the rest.
American Ethanol Camaro
Sooner or later, he’s going to win one of these races and it’s entirely possible that it’s this one. Remember, Bo Butner won his first event here last season.
Skillman Auto Group Camaro
The Vegas Four-Wide was not kind to the Skillman team although they made some solid runs in the desert. Could stand a small boost in qualifying, though.
Rickie Smith Racing Camaro
If Rickie Smith tells you he’s going to fly to the moon in a shopping cart, you should probably believe him. Somehow, someway he always seems to find a way to get the job done. His Gainesville win was a work of art.
The Frank Manzo-led AAP team missed a golden opportunity for a win in Gainesville when they didn't get down the track in the semifinals. They’ll be looking for a bit of recenge here.
S&T Truck Repair Firebird
Top speed of the meet? Most likely it will be the S&T Truck Repair team. After that, it’s anyone’s guess although this is one of the best turbo cars in the entire class.
Jan-Cen Racing Camaro
He would be the first to admit that last year was a disaster. Now, the Jan-Cen team is off to a great start with a runner-up in Gainesville. Just need to continue that momentum.
Qualified solidly in the No. 2 spot in Gainesville and then lost a super-close battle in round two. There is no question he’d like to make amends sooner rather than later. He was also suspiciously quiet. That also figures to change.
J&A Services Cadillac
Won the Gainesville opener last year but hasn’t been back to a final round since. That is not an indicator of how strong this entry is. He can and should be out there winning races.
Any entry tuned by Rickie Smith is going to be a competitive one and with the new nitrous rules, the former series champ should be even more competitive than last season.
Danny Rowe Racing Corvette
Ran like an All-star in testing and then went to Gainesville and missed the field. That should not happen again. Former Houston winner should get on track quickly.