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Behind the Numbers: Ranking the 10 best Top Fuel seasons in the Countdown era

Steve Torrence just swept the Countdown to the Championship -- but does that mean he had the best Top Fuel season since 2008? Let the debate begin.
11 Dec 2018
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Steve Torrence
Steve Torrence swept the 2018 Countdown to the Championship en route to his first Top Fuel title. He became the first to win all six playoff races, which, in addition to sports media's affinity for recency bias, led to some predictable hyperbole…
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Hight vs. Todd, Gray chases first title and a wild finale to Pro Stock Motorcycle in Pomona

Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle champions will all collect their championship jackets at the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona this weekend. Here's how the races are shaping up with only one race remaining in the 2018 season.
06 Nov 2018
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Finals
One world championship down, three to go in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Steve Torrence locked up his second championship, and first in Top Fuel, since the last time I checked in with you. That means we still have three titles to pass…
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Behind the Numbers: Championship scenarios entering the NHRA Toyota Nationals

Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and Mike Janis can clinch titles at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Here's what they need to do to make their championship dreams come true.
23 Oct 2018
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Behind the Numbers
I looked at championship odds a week ago, so this time around I’ll break down what three leaders must do to lock up a championship at the NHRA Toyota…
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Behind the Numbers: Championship odds for the leaders in the clubhouse(s)

You know who leads the points. What are the odds the four leaders stay there at the end of the season?
18 Oct 2018
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Behind the Numbers
No number of clichés can steal from the inevitability of Steve Torrence’s first Top Fuel title. The Texan won his fourth straight Wally at the NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by Wix Filters, extended his lead to 161 points, and left the three…
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Behind the Numbers: How I learned to stop worrying and love reaction times

Reaction times can be complicated. Let's make them really simple so we can go back to the way things used to be.
03 Oct 2018
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Starting line
Before I knew the phrase “reaction time,” I knew what it meant. At least, I thought I knew what it meant. Pulling up alongside some yuppy playing his music too loudly at a red-light, making incidental eye contact and … hang on, I’m getting a note…
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Behind the Numbers: Tim Wilkerson making championship bid

The Funny Car veteran’s performance is no fluke through two Countdown to the Championship events.
27 Sep 2018
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Tim Wilkerson
Robert Hight leads Funny Car in points, J.R. Todd won the first race in the 2018 Countdown to the Championship, but if voting happened today, there’s only one choice for MVR. Okay, so there’s no award for Most Valuable Racer in the Funny Car…
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Behind the Numbers: Who boasts the best shot at making the Countdown to the Championship?

More than 20 racers chase 12 Countdown to the Championship spots at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals beginning August 30. Some of them hold a better shot at making the dance than others.
29 Aug 2018
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Scott Palmer
There are 12 Countdown to the Championship spots available over the four Mello Yello categories and 25 racers competing for them…
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Behind the Numbers: Funny Car will tighten up down the stretch

Matt Hagan earned back-to-back wins and Ron Capps looks like a contender again thanks to adjustments made by their championship crew chiefs.
12 Jul 2018
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Matt Hagan
Courtney Force holds a 155-point lead over Matt Hagan with five races to go before points reset entering the Countdown to the Championship. Ron Capps led Hagan by 188 points at the same point of the 2017 season and wound up capturing pole position…
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Behind the Numbers: Clay Millican may finally have consistency he needs

After four clean passes led Clay Millican to victory at the Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties, it seems good things are on the horizon for the Great Clips/Parts Plus team.
23 May 2018
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Clay Millican
One of the toughest humps to get over with people who don’t get statistics is this one: Stats don’t tell the whole story. That’s true, and no one who gives two turns of a wheelie bar about them will tell you they do. At least, one stat by itself…
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Behind the Numbers: Hines and Krawiec identical through three races

Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec may offer wildly different personalities, but their Harley-Davidson Street Rods are running down the track like carbon copies three races into the Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing Series.
10 May 2018
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec
Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines form the most feared team in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category. You don’t need to ask, just check the receipts. No team claims as many wins as the riders of the Vance & Hines Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson Street…
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Behind the Numbers: Consistency has Todd off to the races

J.R. Todd has the best reaction time average in the Funny Car class and one of the most consistent cars. That combination has helped him to a great start in his second season behind the wheel of the DHL Toyota Camry.
25 Apr 2018
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
J.R. Todd
Earning two wins in five races means something beyond the 100 points awarded to the racer that hoists the Wally in the winner’s circle. Wins are something of a status symbol in NHRA Drag Racing, something to point to as the season chugs to its…
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Behind the Numbers: Vincent Nobile's return to the winner's circle

There’s still work to do for the Mountain View Tire team, but this is a shot in the arm for Nobile and Elite Performance.
12 Apr 2018
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
When Vincent Nobile won in Reading in 2016, he did so in his third final round of the season. He previously lost to Allen Johnson in Denver (of course) and Aaron Strong in Seattle. The Western Swing wasn’t for him that year, clearly, but Nobile got…
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Behind the Numbers: Who's on top three races into the season?

Who stands out and who needs to pick up the pace in the early going of the season.
29 Mar 2018
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Leaders
It’s time to take stock of things three races into the NHRA Drag Racing season. There have been 10 different winners following the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals as something close to parity reigns in the Mello Yello categories. If you know me…
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Behind the Numbers: Breaking the No. 1 qualifier curse

Three straight Funny Car No. 1 qualifiers took home Wallys to start the season; it’s time to lay this urban legend to rest.
22 Mar 2018
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Jack Beckman
To hear some talk, qualifying No. 1 comes with repercussions like opening the Ark of the Covenant. Superstition and motorsports, strike that, superstition and all sports go…
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Behind the Numbers: Rounding out our evaluation of drag racing performance

Averaging elapsed and reaction times is good, but rewarding consistency is just as important. That's where success percentage comes into play. You already have an idea of who excels at it, now we're going to put numbers next to the faces.
08 Mar 2018
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
CappsTobler
Getting from the starting line to the finish line quickly is essentially the stated goal of a drag race. Yes, doing so more quickly than the person in the other lane(s) is a major part of the equation, but you can (probably) only control your own…
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Behind the Numbers: Just how important is a great start?

Winning the first race of the year is important, but is it more important than winning any other regular-season race?
22 Feb 2018
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Winnernationals
Matt Hagan kicked off the 2018 season with four win lights. That should sound familiar. Hagan won four times on Sunday…
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Behind the Numbers: Kalitta has been great, now he just needs a little luck

The Mac Tools driver started the season with a victory with skill, hard work, and a little help from a horseshoe.
15 Feb 2018
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Doug Kalitta
Few crew chiefs capture a moment like Jim Oberhofer. After Doug Kalitta snagged a semifinal victory against Clay Millican at the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com, Oberhofer delivered some colorful…
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Behind the Numbers: Picking the next first-time champs from Top Fuel to Pro Stock Motorcycle

In 2017, we got Brittany Force and Bo Butner. Will 2018 give us more first-time champions? If so, who?
23 Jan 2018
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Steve Torrence
The first qualifying session of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season is set for Feb. 9 at the …
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Behind the Numbers: Counting down the 10 closest finals of 2017

Watch the 10 tightest final rounds in the Mello Yello professional classes from the 2017 NHRA Drag Racing season.
07 Dec 2017
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Bristol
What’s better than a close finish at high speeds? A close finish at high speeds in a final round, of course. With the 2017 season in the books, I looked at the closest final rounds in the four Mello Yello professional categories. You can watch all…
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Behind the Numbers: Silly season kicks off with new faces in new places

Mike Neff is back at Don Schumacher Racing, Brian Corradi has left the Matco Tools team, and Eric Lane has his first crew chief gig. Silly Season is officially upon us.
28 Nov 2017
Posted by NHRA.com staff
Behind the Numbers
Silly Season 00:43
Not even a month removed from the end of the NHRA Drag Racing season, Silly Season begins. Don Schumacher Racing announced the hiring of Mike “Zippy” Neff to tune the U.S. Army dragster on Monday to, the first domino to fall in a massive crew chief…
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Behind the Numbers: Langdon prepares to make switch to Funny Car

2013 Top Fuel champion Shawn Langdon discusses his preparation for swapping Nitro classes.
20 Nov 2017
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Shawn Langdon
“I drove terrible the first three runs. I felt so messed up, so uncomfortable. Apparently, I looked a lot better than I felt.”  That was Shawn Langdon’s assessment of his first three laps in a Funny Car. His fourth lap went much smoother…
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Behind the Numbers: Stage is set for close finish to NHRA season

The Auto Club NHRA Finals will close out the season in Pomona by crowning four champions. Here's a look at the scenarios.
06 Nov 2017
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Hight
If you know me, you know I’m a big fan of Joe Amato. It doesn’t matter his last win came 17 years ago, nor does it matter his most famous win came a year before I was born. That’s his 1990 victory at the…
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Behind the Numbers: McMillen reinforces age is only a number in NHRA Drag Racing

Terry McMillen became the oldest Top Fuel winner in history in a season where we saw the youngest winner of all time in NHRA history.
02 Nov 2017
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Terry McMillen
If there’s one thing to take away from the 2017 NHRA Drag Racing season, it’s this: Age is only a number. From Pro Stock rookie Tanner Gray winning at 17 to Terry McMillen winning at 63, we’ve seen drivers turn on win lights on both ends of the age…
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Behind the Numbers: How Krawiec can clinch a title in Las Vegas

Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Eddie Krawiec can lock up his fourth championship at the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas. Here's what needs to happen for the Harley-Davidson rider to do it.
23 Oct 2017
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Eddie Krawiec
Eddie Krawiec can clinch his fourth Mello Yello Pro Stock Motorcycle Championship at the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas. That such a thing is even possible is astounding given how many points (191) will still be on the table heading into the…
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Behind the Numbers: Torrence confident as Countdown to Championship winds down

Steve Torrence is ready to bounce back following wreck at AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals wreck.
19 Oct 2017
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Steve Torrence 02:14
If Steve Torrence wins his first Mello Yello Top Fuel Championship, he’ll do it alone. Okay, I’m exaggerating; he’ll do it with co-crew chiefs Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana, along with the incredible Capco Contractors team that has helped Torrence…
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Behind the Numbers: Anderson's going rounds to get back into championship hunt

Greg Anderson holds the Pro Stock points lead midway through the Countdown to the Championship thanks to a string of consistent performances.
12 Oct 2017
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Greg Anderson
Greg Anderson earned his third victory of the season by beating teammate Jason Line in a final round for the second time this season at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. That win came in Anderson’s fourth straight final-round appearance, but…
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Behind the Numbers: Millican and Grubnic have taken a massive step forward

Clay Millican and David Grubnic have stepped up the performance of the Parts Plus / Great Clips dragster recently, and it's showing up on scoreboards across the NHRA Drag Racing landscape.
05 Oct 2017
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Clay Millican
Clay Millican reset the national elapsed time record by nearly a hundredth of a second, the latest salvo (pow-pow) fired by crew chief David Grubnic as the Parts Plus/Great Clips-backed dragster continues to light up scoreboards wherever it goes.…
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Behind the Numbers: Consistency makes Brittany, Courtney Force contenders in the Countdown

Brittany and Courtney Force lead Top Fuel and Funny Car in points acquired over the first two Countdown races thanks to steady performance.
27 Sep 2017
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Forces
To hear drivers and crew chiefs talk, the key to winning a Mello Yello Championship resembles boxing as much as it does racing. To alter the famous quote from legendary Raiders owner Al Davis: “just go rounds, baby.” That worked out just…
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Behind the Numbers: Krawiec and Hines are back with a vengeance

Krawiec and Hines showed brief vulnerability when they brought out their new Street Rods. Those days are over. The Harley-Davidson team is back just in time to chase another championship.
21 Sep 2017
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Harley-Davidson
When Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines brought out their new Harley-Davidson Street Rods at Englishtown, the competition licked its lips. For a moment, two of the most competitive riders in Pro Stock Motorcycle were vulnerable. Debuting new bodies and…
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Behind the Numbers: How Funny Car drivers can clinch at the Big Go

The wild Funny Car regular season comes down to the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, where three spots in the Countdown for the Championship are still up for grabs. Here's how the field shapes up ahead of the Big Go.
30 Aug 2017
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Road to the Countdown
It all comes down to the Big Go. One of the wildest Funny Car regular seasons since the Countdown to the Championship came into being wraps up at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals with everything on the line. Ron Capps remains the favorite to…
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