You win some, you lose some or so the story goes. Last week in Charlotte, Tipster finally pegged Steve Torrence as the Top Fuel winner but whiffed on Funny Car champ Shawn Langdon, who was unranked. Pro Stock Motorcycle winner Andrew Hines was in our top four, and so was Pro Mod winner Mike Janis. Let’s see if we can improve our average in Atlanta.
The reigning champ was just about to lose his grip on the top spot, but he put together a solid performance in Charlotte to get his first win of the season. It certainly won’t be his last.
Without question, this has been the most consistent car in Top Fuel this season and the only one without a first-round loss, which helps explain how he’s been either first or second in the points standings after every event this season.
Week after week, these guys find a way to get the job done. Their performance numbers are not overwhelming, but in the last four events the Straiightline Motorsports gang has two runner-up finishes and two semifinals. Hard to imagine their first win of the season isn’t right around the corner.
Advance Auto Parts
This is very much a what have you done for me lately sport so the feel-good vibes from her impressive Houston win may have been tempered a bit by a tire-smoking loss in the first round in Charlotte. Regardless, David Grubnic has this car hauling and it doesn’t appear that he’s scratched the surface of this team’s potential.
Defending Atlanta champ has an excellent shot to go back-to-back after reaching the final round of the Charlotte Four-Wide race last weekend. After struggling a bit in Pomona, their qualifying performance has been solid in the last five races. If we’re looking at a seventh-different Top Fuel winner in seven races, this is the best bet.
Amalie Motor Oil
As the summer heats up and track temperatures climb, so does the stock of the Amalie team. They didn’t get down the track in the final of the Four Wide last weekend, but prior to that, they used consistent 3.8s to advance. That strategy should pay big dividends in the summer months.
Since 2008, he’s 4-0 in Top Fuel finals in Atlanta, and he’s got a pair of Pro Stock Motorcycle wins here in 2001 and 2006. That’s a solid body of work. At this point, it’s almost a given that nine or ten drivers will win Top Fuel races this season and he’s all but guaranteed to be one of them.
The DHL car has cooled off since their impressive Gainesville win but given the overall success of the Kalitta team this year, where it’s taken just six races for all four of their cars to get a victory, it would be smart to expect a rebound. Oh, and he also looked like a veteran getting his Top Alcohol Funny Car license in Jonnie Lindberg’s car on Monday in Charlotte.
Auto Club Chevy
One minute he was zooming to another win at the Charlotte Four-Wide race and the next the win light came on in Shawn Langdon’s lane. As frustrating as it was to be a runner-up, the Auto Club team has already built a massive points lead so they’re playing with house money.
Mopar Express Lane Dodge
He made it to the final in Charlotte and he has a win and two runner-up finishes at this track in the last six years. Honestly, the talent level among the top ten in Funny Car is so strong it’s nearly impossible to pick one or two favorites.
As noted earlier, the Kalitta Motorsports team has noticeably picked up the pace this year and the reigning Funny Car champ is certainly doing his share of the heavy lifting with a win and a runner-up. He’s never won in Atlanta but that’s a minor point of debate. He’s certainly capable of putting together four win lights on Sunday.
The 16-time champ will be celebrating his 70th birthday on Saturday but the number that matters most is 150 because that will signify his next Funny Car victory. Since the first race in 1981, he’s appeared in 15 final rounds and has won seven of them at Atlanta Dragway. He just missed in Charlotte so maybe this is finally the day?
Global Electronic Technology Toyota
His emotional win in Charlotte should provide a reminder to racers, fans, and everyone else of why sports matter so much. Hard to imagine his father, Chad, recovering from recent surgery, isn’t the proudest father in the world right now. It’s also very likely that the Global car is going to stack up a few more win lights here in the near future.
Infinite Hero Dodge
Charlotte was a mixed bag with an outstanding qualifying performance (No. 2) followed by tire smoke in the semifinals. It’s likely that race-day conditions in Atlanta will be similar to those in Charlotte, but that’s a challenge that all teams will have to deal with. Historically, these guys handle them well.
Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford
For one reason or another, some drivers have their favorite tracks on the tour and for the Levi, Ray & Shoup driver, this is one of his. Maybe it’s the readily available sweet tea and barbecue, but more likely it’s the fact that he won here in 2015 and made the final again in 2017.
Tommy Johnson Jr.
The final spot this week was literally a coin toss between Johnson and DSR teammate Ron Capps and this time the Make-A-Wish team got the nod. They were solid in Charlotte, which certainly helps their case. As for the NAPA crew, they shouldn’t be upset. Tipster has already missed a couple of winners this season.
Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson
Tipster really wants to give the nod to Andrew Hines after winning two of the first three races of the season, but it’s hard to overlook Krawiec’s success in Atlanta. He not only won his first race here in 2009, but has since tacked on four more wins here, including last year’s race.
Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson
It might be a bit early for this but the best two years of his career, in terms of wins, are 2012 and 2014 when he won six times. With two wins in the first three races, he’s got a solid chance to break or equal that mark this year. He’s started the season on a 9-1 tear and has win No. 50 in the bank. Now, it's time to start on the next 50.
Hector Arana Jr.
Lucas Oil EBR
Had one of the quickest bikes in Charlotte, especially on race day but fell off a bit in the final. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s off to a great start this season. Currently sitting on 197 round wins for his career so if he makes the final, he’ll join the short list of bike racers with 200. That should happen very quickly.
As a full-time professional racer, it should not be a surprise that he stayed in Charlotte and tested on Monday after the Four-Wide race. After a tough weekend, he probably needed to test, and that bodes well for an improved outing in Atlanta. Incredibly, he’s only been to one final here and that was in 2007.
Big St. Charles/Skillman Auto Suzuki
Riding the same bike that LE Tonglet wheeled to a win here in 2017, she’s got more than enough power to get the job done. She had the quickest bike at zMax Dragway and she’s also a past Atlanta winner.
Reed Motorsports EBR
Enough with the teasing. Are we finally going to get to see just how much talent this kid has on a Pro Stock Motorcycle? He’s always had the ability to get the job done but he hasn’t had the horse, until now. The Reed Motorsports Program has made dramatic strides lately.
Flyin’ Ryan EBR
Right on cue he’s made his first appearance in a final round and it certainly won’t be the last. The Oehler family has taken the road less traveled by resisting the temptation to go with a lease program and their decision is just beginning to pay off. He looked really good in the first two rounds in Charlotte.
Typically, this bike makes at least one really good run per race and sometimes a couple which speaks to a world of potential. A bit more consistency, or even a lucky break or two, and it isn’t hard to imagine a second-career victory.
Had the unique “honor” of racing in the “Quad of Doom” in Charlotte along with Mike Janis, Steve Jackson, and Jeremy Ray, where the slowest E.T. was 5.827. He didn’t advance but we saw enough potential there to give him the top spot this week. In a class where consistency is rare, they’ve got it in spades.
Talk about consistency; three races into the season and he’s got three final rounds to his credit. In the interest of full disclosure, he’d be ranked No. 1 here this week if not for a sub-par qualifying effort in Charlotte. That’s a very minor detail at this point because this car is outstanding.
Qualified No. 1 last week (no surprise there) and nearly made the final round after taking a big early lead against Rickie Smith. Turbocharged cars are no longer the finicky buggers they once were and most drivers have figured out how to cut a light in one. This guy certainly has.
AAP/Janis Superchargers Camaro
Almost on cue, he qualifies in the top half of the field and then parlays that into his first win of the season. He admittedly had a bit of luck getting through the first round but everything after that was well-earned including his impressive 5.799 in the final round.
Everyone said it would be just a matter of time before he figured out the new turbo combination and it appears that time was three races. He was rock-solid in Charlotte, where he qualified No. 5 and scored a runner-up finish on race day. He’s still a tick behind the leaders but is rapidly closing the gap.
Another race, another 260-mph time slip and this time, she got a couple of win slips to go with it. The turbo program at Elite is coming together nicely and its best days are clearly ahead.
Bond Coat Camaro
What these guys are doing with the nitrous combination can’t be understated, especially after a 5.71 at just 249-mph in Charlotte. Race day was forgettable, but it sees we’ve answered any lingering questions about the nitrous combination at least for now.
Hard to imagine that you can have a .044 reaction time and be fourth off the starting line and then run 5.826 and be third in the elapsed time department but that’s what happened in the second round in Charlotte. A few thousandths improvement in either area and he’s going to the final round.