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NHRA Power Rankings: Scott Palmer makes renewed NHRA Countdown bid

The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals will be stressful for the bottom of the Top Fuel table
09 Jul 2019
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Power Rankings
Scott Palmer

Scott Palmer reached his second Top Fuel final at the NHRA New England Nationals. He came up short against Steve Torrence for the second time in his career, but it remained an incredible points day for the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent Top Fuel team. Palmer maintains he doesn’t care about the NHRA Countdown to the Championship; he’s out here to win his first Top Fuel race, not sneak into the No. 10 spot with a cautious approach. 

That’s great – but the teams around him certainly care if he makes the playoffs, because of the space he will or will not take up. Palmer passed Auto Club of Southern California Road to the Future candidate Austin Prock to take over 10th place in the standings, although just slightly. He leads Prock by eight points and, though the Rocky Mountain Twist Top Fuel team has made strides over the last six races, it’s a middle-of-the-pack team right now.

That’s not say the team can’t get better, but it scores a 49.76 in NHRA Power Ranking over the last six races. That’s just .32 points better than Palmer over the same period. Palmer and Prock aren’t the only vulnerable dragsters in the NHRA Countdown hunt, of course, but they’re in 10th and 11th and it’s, you know, better to be in seventh and eighth and ninth. 

Those teams (Leah Pritchett, Richie Crampton and Terry McMillen) shouldn’t necessarily feel great either. Pritchett did not compete in Epping due to lack of funding. She is scheduled to race in the next five events and has a better race car than everyone else on this list. She also has a 96-point lead on Prock. Safety is not guaranteed, but based on even basic point projections, I like her odds. 

The most interesting battle exists from Crampton in eighth to Billy Torrence in 12th. Torrence certainly has the car to make the Countdown but he is only slated to race three more times before points lock. One of those races, the U.S. Nationals, hands out a maximum of 195 points. That’s 65 more points than you can get at a traditional national event, but we are asking the team to blow the damn doors off everyone else to do it. 

Yes, he can do it. No, I don’t think he will, based on what is likely, not on what is possible. Don’t gamble on drag racing. Both Crampton and McMillen have struggled mightily over the past six races, posting NHRA Power Rankings of 37.82 and 36.18, respectively. That’s because their elapsed times (3.82-seconds for both) have not been up to snuff and McMillen’s Success Rate has been abysmal (33 percent). 

That makes both racers vulnerable to be passed by Prock and Palmer over the next five races. All four dragsters get down the track at similar clips, but the consistency of Prock and Palmer has come around to the point that Success Rate may determine who makes the top 10 when we leave Lucas Oil Raceway and who doesn’t. It’s too close to predict anything other than a very close race (I’m comfortable saying Steve Torrence has the No. 1 spot locked up, #HotTake Alert), but Prock and Palmer are currently in a much better position than the two racers they’re battling. 

A strong Western Swing by Kalitta Motorsports and the Amalie Motor Oil dragster can change all that. We’ll see what happens at Bandimere Speedway.