This much we know for sure; there will be no Western Swing sweeps this year but there are still titles to be won in Seattle and Tricky Tipster, NHRA National Dragster's own wizard of odds, has labeled Tony Schumacher, Robert Hight, and Greg Anderson as the pre-race favorites.
The eight-time champ hasn’t topped the old Tipster leaderboard in a while but lately, he’s earned top billing, especially after his performance in Seattle. The Sarge faces an uncertain future after this season, so he’s going to be extremely motivated to go after a ninth Mello Yello championship.
When it comes to life’s minor annoyances, red-lights rank right up there with root canals and trips to the DMV. Fortunately for Torrence, he’ll only have to wait a week to make up for his Sonoma foul. Expect the Capco driver to arrive in the Pacific Northwest with a Texas-sized chip on his shoulder.
Made it to the final in Denver and came right back with a solid semifinal showing in Sonoma. In fact, he came close to making the final for the second-straight week. Good things are happening right now at Camp Kalitta, just in time for the home stretch.
Parts Plus/Great Clips
He didn’t win in Sonoma, but did put up a great 3.69 to earn bragging rights. There’s no mystery to the Stringer Performance car. It will run with the class leaders. Only question is how many times it does it on race day.
A win in Denver followed by an ugly round one loss in Sonoma makes Seattle the “rubber match” of the Western Swing. Get to the final here and all is forgotten and based on their performance lately, that is a very distinct possibility.
The Matco team is slowly turning the corner after a tough first half to the season. Believe it or not, there is still plenty of time to make a run at a fourth Mello Yello Top Fuel title.
She lost in the second round in Sonoma but a lot of good came from it. For one, the Peak/Monster dragster was quick and she also drove the wheels off it in her first round win over Richie Crampton.
Fighting like hell to make it into the top ten and so far, he’s getting the job done. A semifinal finish in Sonoma was huge and another one here would just about put the wraps on a Countdown berth.
Auto Club Chevy
Defending event winner is coming in on a high note after thrilling final round win in Sonoma. To suggest that the Auto Club team is peaking at the right time would be an understatement. There’s a lot of competition for the top spot, but right now he’s the top dog until someone else says otherwise.
Three wins here in Funny Car and another in Top Fuel. Needless to say, the NAPA driver enjoys racing in the Pacific Northwest. It’s hard to pick a favorite in Funny Car these days, but at this point, he’s as good as anyone in the class and deserves one of the top two spots.
Advance Auto Parts Chevy
Another week. Another low qualifier award. What this team is doing on Friday and Saturday is epic and they’re not to bad on Sundays, either. A little more race-day consistency would be a plus but clearly, they’re properly equipped for a long run during the Countdown.
Lost to teammate Capps last week in Sonoma and there is no shame in that. This remains one of the best car-driver combos in all of Funny Car racing and they’re going to get their fair share of win lights.
Okay, so he deep stages on almost every elimination run. Have you seen his lights? They all look like line drives in the box score and lately, he’s been the holeshot master in Funny Car. The lack of lane choice hasn’t seemed to be an issue, either.
Infinite Hero Dodge
Okay, so it was 11 years ago but he does have a Funny Car victory at Pacific Raceways. There is a little bit of consistency issues that should be addressed before the start of the Countdown but another win here would not be a surprise.
Round wins have been a bit tough to come by lately but there is no real reason for it. This is a solid car with a driver who is increasingly hungry for a win. They’ll figure this deal out.
Bob Tasca III
Motorcraft Quick Lane Ford
The battle for the final spot in the Countdown to the Championship is intense which makes his round win over Jonnie Lindberg in Sonoma even more important. A couple more win lights here would go along way towards sealing a spot in the playoffs.
Summit Racing Camaro
He doesn’t have nearly as many wins as he should have this season, but it would be hard to deny this isn’t the best car in the field. As such, he’s going to be a Tipster favorite for the foreseeable future.
Jeg Coughlin Jr.
The six-time champion won this race in 2003 and 2010 and was also a runner-up in 2008 and 2013. Those are pretty good results and based on the way this car has performed this summer, it’s easy to believe that the yellow and black JEGS Camaro will be in another final round this weekend. Also has momentum after big Sonoma win.
American Ethanol Camaro
Got to the final in Sonoma and had a really good shot at winning his second event. By now, there is no one who doesn’t think that he doesn’t have a legit shot at winning the whole darn thing.
Summit Racing Camaro
We were looking for him to make a statement in Sonoma and he did so with a number of great runs. Almost no chance that he goes the rest of the season without winning at least one race. And, no reason to think winning won’t start this weekend.
Gray Manufacturing Technologies Camaro
Based on qualifying, he should have probably had more than a quarterfinal finish in Sonoma but he ran into Kramer at the wrong time. After two disappointing races on the Swing, there’s probably no one who’s more anxious to get back in the seat.
To be perfectly candid, the Elite team could probably use a break but there’s another race this week so they’ll have to tough it out. The KB cars dominated in Sonoma, but that doesn’t mean the two-time champ is out of the picture this week. Far from it.
Butner Auto Camaro
He’s struggled a bit lately but turned in a great qualifyting effort in Sonoma only to have a transmission malfunction in the first round. Assuming that bit of bad luck is out of the way, one can expect a better result this week.
Skillman Auto Group Camaro
Apologies to Vincent Nobile, Chris McGaha, and Alex Laughlin but there isn’t room for everyone in Tipster. At this point it’s a coin toss between those four drivers but since Skillman is the defending champion, he’s going to get the nod this time