Two of the first six races of the season are four-wide affairs and one of them is at elevation. We just wrapped up the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, which is held at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The elevation? Nearly 2,000 feet higher than Gainesville International Raceway. That means the air is a whole lot worse and the vehicles move slower.
All that to say we’re looking at a six-race average to find the “average [insert pro category here]” and compare every racer to it. That’s how we get a number from 0-100. Dropping the Charlotte Fall race and adding the Vegas Spring race impacts the average and, therefore, the numbers. So, don’t get too alarmed by one-race point swings – they can also come from a racer having a very good race in Las Vegas and a very bad race at the event that just dropped off the rating.
The important thing is that these ratings are apples to apples and every team is being compared to one another by the same grouping of races. Four-wide racing does introduce weirdness (which is good and fun) but everyone is subjected to the same weirdness, so it shakes out. Still with me? Let’s hit the gas on Top Fuel.
You might be tired of seeing Steve Torrence at the top of this list, but consider this: He’s driving the quickest, fastest and most consistent dragster. Yes, still. Yes, this year.
Third-quickest, second-most consistent dragster and his lights are very good. How good? Third-best in class (.069). Nice.
Consistency is a problem (66 percent success rate) but he's quick and his lights remain killer (.058) compared to a .073 class average.
Similar story to Antron … but not quite as good. Pritchett is dealing with a pretty average dragster (anything around a 50 Power Ranking is nearing the class average).
That first win might a sign of things to come. The dragster is very quick and getting more consistent. The lights are an issue, but he cut a .041 in the final and is showing signs of improvement.
The car is getting quicker (3.75) but it needs to be more consistent (67 percent). Good lights are definitely helping his cause.
Arguably her best race in the Dave Grubnic era. Her lights are a tick below the class average, but this car is getting more consistent.
His consistency is the biggest problem at 56.7 percent. That's a big problem for the Amalie Motor Oil team, which is good to very good in other areas.
This car is just not good on Sunday. It gets down the track 62 percent of the time overall and only 50 percent on Sunday.
The team has been better than many [myself included] thought it would be this early, but keep this in mind: the car is only getting down the track 56 percent of the time and is slower than the class average at 3.784 e.t. That's not where they want it to be.
ON THE BUBBLE:
Every car in the class got a huge point bump this week because the overall class quality deteriorated -- we lost a quick race in the stats (Charlotte 2) and added a slow race (Vegas 1). That makes everyone with good stats look better … Robert is no exception. He's literally four hundredths faster than everyone else. So, a "bad weekend" in Vegas, well, wasn't that bad.
Tommy Johnson Jr.
He's going to win soon -- second-quickest, 75 percent success rate, good reaction times.
Overall e.t. average: 3.956 (third best). Eliminations e.t.: 3.955. The former bracket racer has as bracket car.
The car is consistent, just not that quick. Granted, we all know he’s stealing from his own e.t. by chunking it in every run.
He's in that third tier of quickness (3.973) which is weird for a Dickie Venables car. That should be less of a problem when it gets hot – and it’s certainly possible that they’ll get quicker before long.
Consistency is the biggest problem (67 percent) but Langdon is nailing the tree and he might steal a race before long.
He won in Vegas yet again, but here are the numbers: 59 percent success rate (not very good), 3.962 e.t. (decent), .064 reaction time (great). That's why he isn't higher up the list just yet.
The car is slower than John Force and a little less consistent. Vegas was a step in the right direction but they're not moving up until, well, that changes.
Bob Tasca III
Another step in the right direction but it's baby steps for this team. Barely quicker than 4 seconds and still not a 70-percent success rate car.
Similar story for Cruz as it is for Tasca -- quicker than many cars, but with only a 58 percent success rate. Getting better all the time, though.
ON THE BUBBLE:
Jeg holds onto the top spot because he gets down the track most frequently and he has the third-best reaction times. He’s the only driver other than Bo Butner to win this year and that probably feels okay.
The car is struggling right now (6.578 is good, not great) but it's very consistent. Someone just needs to steal the horseshoe from Butner.
This is the best car in Pro Stock. But a .066 reaction time average is just… not gonna work, man.
Bo Butner will tell you himself how fortunate he is to have three wins this year. He is right. That car is dead average in elapsed time and he’s cutting .042 reaction times (also right on the class average). More power to him.
Huge jump in Las Vegas, a race he's always good at. Let's see what happens when we roll into Richmond.
The car is good, but Laughlin is struggling on the tree. That's what's holding him back in 2019.
Both him and Greg Anderson are struggling getting off the starting line (60 foot) and that's affecting their overall e.t. They have a few weeks to fix that and it’s safe to assume they’ll be working.
That's the best race Greg has had all year and it still didn't come with a win because of a triple holeshot… he probably took that very well.
He's got the best reaction time average in the class and no red lights in the last six races. That's a great start, as that was a bit of an Achilles heel for him last year.
McGaha is struggling to get down the track this year, and that makes him a bubble driver at this point.
ON THE BUBBLE:
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
He has made it down the strip 44 straight runs. A red light put him out of commission in Vegas, but it's not enough to allow Matt Smith to pass him … yet.
He has the second-quickest bike and the third-most consistent. The second part is what makes Smith so darn scary right now.
Hector Arana Jr .
They've really refined their program. 97.4 percent success rate is the key to his success right now – he’s always been quick, but now that the Lucas Oil EBR is reliable? Watch out.
The quickest bike in Pro Stock Motorcycle is ridden by Andrew Hines. That’s impressive given what Smith, Arana and even teammate Krawiec are doing.
He's not that quick (6.911 is below average) but he's consistent and has decent lights. That's why he's where he is – and that’s darn impressive.
Her biggest problem is reaction times (.053), but she's clearly gotten the hang of riding her Harley-Davidson, no small task.
The bike has not been good this year, and it’s probably a good thing the team has a couple of weeks to work on their program before we go four-wide again.
The Hobby Racer is moving in the right direction, but it's been a tough start overall. He's not been as quick as he should be on that EBR but give the team time and things will likely turn around.
I think this is about where Jimmy will be this season. That's a very middle-of-the-road bike (50 Power Ranking indicates that) and he does a very good job riding it.
Great reaction times are moving Angie Smith through the first round. They just need to get the bike a little quicker and a touch more consistent to make her a threat to win races.
ON THE BUBBLE: