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NHRA Power Rankings: Doug Kalitta, Tim Wilkerson, Andrew Hines have reason for optimism after Arby's NHRA Southern Nationals

Steve Torrence, Robert Hight and Eddie Krawiec lead the NHRA Power Rankings following the Arby's NHRA Southern Nationals.
08 May 2019
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Power Rankings
Power Rankings

Doug Kalitta lost in the first round at the Arby’s NHRA Southern Nationals. His 4.208-second pass hurt his overall success rate and, more importantly to the Mac Tools team, ended his weekend three rounds early. But his NHRA Power Ranking went up and Kalitta now sits just behind leader (in points and Power Ranking) Steve Torrence.

So, how come? Crew chief Troy Fasching has taken the Mac Tools dragster up 33 points since the start of the season by vastly improving its speed and consistency. Kalitta now boasts the quickest dragster in Top Fuel and it gets down the track 76 percent of the time. That’s .003-second quicker than Torrence and just a little behind on consistency (you can see the full chart for all four Mello Yello categories here). 

But that doesn’t explain why Kalitta’s Power Ranking increased. He qualified No. 3 and had a couple of strong passes, but mostly maintained his overall season performance. We’re seven races into the season, which means you’re less likely to see major swings unless something truly wild happens (stringing together eight great runs in one weekend might do it). But Power Rankings aren’t measured against what you did last week, they’re measured against class performance.

Racing at Atlanta Dragway was a big test for drivers and crew chiefs because of changing track conditions due to many different weather conditions. Fasching and the Mac Tools team did a phenomenal job managing the weather and kept their dragster running at pace while the overall class average dipped into the 3.80s. Kalitta staying on target provided a boost to his Power Ranking and allowed him to pass two racers who were inactive (Billy Torrence and Mike Salinas) and got him a little closer to Steve Torrence.

RankingDriverElapsed TimeSuccess RateReaction TimeAverage SpeedPower RankingPoint ChangePosition Change
1Steve Torrence3.75781%0.071325.1073.89-0.490
2Doug Kalitta3.75476%0.060322.0869.819.303
3Billy Torrence3.76778%0.073325.7669.405.320
4Mike Salinas3.75776%0.087326.5567.341.81-2
5Antron Brown3.77463%0.061324.6059.343.241
6Jordan Vandergriff3.77570%0.068322.4457.63-3.09-2
7Terry McMillen3.76761%0.069324.3156.954.431
8Leah Pritchett3.78167%0.075323.9853.380.86-1
9Brittany Force3.77470%0.079318.1647.32-4.340
10Austin Prock3.80060%0.057322.2145.92-5.740


Tim Wilkerson reached another final round and has improved by 13.31 points since the start of the season. A terrible start to the season at the Winternationals is a distant memory for the Ford Mustang Funny Car racer. He’s averaging a 3.99-second elapsed time, he’s getting down the track 57 percent of the time (nearly up to his 2018 average of 62.2 percent) and his average speed of 321.76 mph speaks to his potential. 

Wilkerson came up short against Ron Capps, who moved back into the top 10 this week after a tough stretch to start the season, but he’s a reliable threat on race day. The Rahn Tobler-tuned NAPA Funny Car of Capps is moving in the right direction, too, though it remains down on speed; how much that matters remains to be seen. Capps picked up 8.1 points this week and the car is among the more consistent in the bottom half of the top 10, it’s just not particularly quick. 

Matt Hagan has made one of the biggest moves this season after a very difficult Countdown to the Championship in 2018. Dickie Venables has the most consistent Funny Car. Jimmy Prock has tuned Robert Hight to the third-most consistent. It’s just not accurate to say Prock and Venables are “swing for the fences” guys in the sense we used to – yes, they run quick cars, but they’re also getting down the track more often than almost everyone else. 

RankingDriverElapsed TimeSuccess RateReaction TimeAverage SpeedPower RankingPoint ChangePosition Change
1Robert Hight3.95378%0.073324.5079.34-8.620
2Matt Hagan3.96683%0.078321.0371.749.240
3John Force4.00681%0.074322.8762.845.770
4Jack Beckman3.99362%0.076322.8554.73-0.940
5Shawn Langdon4.01768%0.064320.0651.024.751
6Tim Wilkerson3.99057%0.084321.7649.012.55-1
7J.R. Todd4.01060%0.066320.6948.217.030
8Bob Tasca III4.01667%0.065317.6846.489.342
9Cruz Pedregon4.01156%0.068321.2145.985.80-1
10Ron Capps4.01168%0.073316.7945.108.10NR


Andrew Hines picked up another 10.23 points following the Arby’s NHRA Southern Nationals and it won’t be long before he passes teammate Eddie Krawiec if things continue this way. Hines is riding a new chassis with the same body styling as his two Harley-Davidson teammates and it’s been an incredible machine. He notched a 1.054-second 60-foot time in the final to defeat Jerry Savoie, and without getting too technical: That’s very bad news for everyone else in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Krawiec may get the new chassis in Richmond ahead of the Virginia NHRA Nationals, but even if he does, it may take time for it to get properly tuned. Regardless, the Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson squad is the cream of the crop in the class while Matt Smith Racing struggles to get its team to the 60-foot clock in a reasonable amount of time. 

Joey Gladstone picked up six spots thanks in part to dropping off old results (we’re still working with races from 2018 in the Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle categories) and because he and Cory Reed have put together a decent package thus far. The bike has become relatively reliable and he gets off the line quicker than just about everyone in the category (Karen Stoffer, who also moved up three spots, is .001 second quicker). 

RankingDriverElapsed TimeSuccess RateReaction TimeAverage SpeedPower RankingPoint ChangePosition Change
1Eddie Krawiec6.863100%0.036196.6085.787.870
2Andrew Hines6.85380%0.040195.6777.3810.232
3Matt Smith6.85682%0.044197.1475.19-0.31-1
4Hector Arana Jr6.88595%0.054196.1874.786.27-1
5Jerry Savoie6.90177%0.041193.2658.887.732
6Joey Gladstone6.89268%0.029193.4355.4106
7Angelle Sampey6.90271%0.062193.6648.440-1
8Hector Arana6.90063%0.040195.2245.58-4.18-3
9Ryan Oehler6.91574%0.051194.9145.2002
10Karen Stoffer6.91260%0.028192.7543.1903


We’ll get back on track in Richmond in two weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing you there!