Robert Hight, Steve Torrence, Erica Enders lead NHRA Power Rankings following NHRA Arizona Nationals
There’s a new Power Rankings leader in Funny Car after the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Arizona Nationals [breathe]. Steve Torrence and Erica Enders retained their spots atop the Top Fuel and Pro Stock categories despite first and semifinal exits, respectively. Robert Hight also reached the semifinals and, in part based on the strength of back-to-back excellent qualifying efforts, took over the Funny Car lead.
A reminder: Rankings are, right now, based on the last six races. That means the top 10 is sorted based on races beginning with the 2018 AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals rolling through our most recent contest in Phoenix. We’ll swap to all 2019 results following the Arby’s NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta.
Let’s get started with Top Fuel. It’s tradition [well, it is now].
It’ll take more than one bad race to derail Torrence from his perch atop the Top Fuel leaderboard. That’s a good thing. Sample size should matter when it comes to Power Rankings because otherwise, you’d get some real wacky business … like our current No. 2 racer … Jordan Vandergriff.
That’s not a knock on Vandergriff, who ran a great race and reached the semifinals through strong reaction times (.060 average) and the quickest car on average in the field right now. But take it with a grain of salt. We’re talking about one race and we should wait to pass judgment, good or bad on any racer, until a few races have been run.
Still, that’s a promising debut.
It’s not necessarily about being the best at one thing – it’s about being very good at many things. Hight and crew chief Jimmy Prock excel in how quickly they get down the race track (average elapsed time), how often they get down the race track (success rate) and top speed. Hight is average when it comes to reaction time, but it rarely keeps him from winning races.
Tommy Johnson Jr., who got knocked off the top spot, will (hopefully) not have many race day’s like he did Sunday. He rode through two explosions, both of which hurt his ranking because he didn’t get down the track. He, and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman have very quick and very consistent cars. We also can’t forget race-winner Matt Hagan, who had a get-healthy weekend.
A weird weekend of qualifying didn’t keep Enders from reaching the semifinals, where her Chevy Camaro simply didn’t perform well enough to get by teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. It’s way too early to know if that’s a trend, or just a bad weekend (her car looked great in Pomona in my opinion), but her .029 reaction time average means she can win any race.
That being said, if Coughlin continues to get his power to the ground at this rate … well, it’s going to be tight. Just look at the table below to see how hard it is to win races in Pro Stock in 2019. So, a lot like it was in 2018 and 2017. (Uh, and 2016 if you didn’t race in a red or blue K.B. Camaro!)
We’ll talk again after Gainesville.