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The latest update as of February 26, 2011
NHRA Winternationals - Day Three
9:00 AM UPDATE
It's not looking that promising for much action on the 1000/1320 foot track at the L.A. County Fairgrounds today. The Weather Network is showing isolated but persistent showers until late in the day. Combined with very cool temperatures, like less than 50 F and high humidity, the chances are getting the track dry enough - and keeping it that way - to send any race cars down the venerable Parker Avenue are slimmer than those of getting the Beatles back together.
With only one day of qualifying completed so far (on Thursday), featuring just one session each for the Pro and Alcohol cars and two hits for the Comp crowd, the fields may be set already, and Comp already is. If the weather doesn't cooperate today, then NHRA will almost certainly be forced into declaring qualifying complete for all classes and be ready to start eliminations bright and early on Sunday morning.
The other sportsman categories of Stock and Super Stock did get their two scheduled qualifiers on Thursday and while it wasn't reported in the results on Drag Race Central, one can presume that Super Comp and Super Gas also received their two time trials and would also be ready for further eliminations. Before the rain hit in earnest in the early afternoon yesterday, they did manage to complete the first round of Stock, Super Stock, Super Gas, and were just three pairs into the opening round of Super Comp when it all came to a soggy stop.
On the bright side (no pun intended... of course) tomorrow's weather forecast for the L.A. area calls for sun and cool, but not really cold - like 50 - 52 F - temps and a zero percent chance of precipitation. But the old time "one-day wonder" Winternationals where they managed to complete eliminations, and sometimes even give everyone a last chance "suicide" qualifying session to boot, may be beyond doing in this era. Eliminating a second (and last) qualifying session for the Pro and Alky cars, and pushing the sportsman racers back to a Monday finish, would allow the race to start and finish before the 6pm Sunday curfew.
At this point the only victims of the single qualifying session are Brian Hough in Top Alcohol Funny Car, who had the chutes fall out at the start of his burnout on Thursday afternoon and had to abort the qualifying attempt. The other 30 alky/nitro cars got down the track and at least received a timeslip, and with neither field full, everyone else is automatically qualified. In the Pro ranks, the customary 12-car cutoff before the final two qualifying attempts would presumably be waived to fill out all 16 starting slots for eliminations.
Below the 16-car cutoff point, a few notable names arise in Top Fuel with Morgan Lucas and David Grubnic (Kalitta car) being left on the outside, while the nitro flopper field would be missing Jack Beckman and Jeff Arend (also a Kalitta car). No major names are missing from the Pro Stock ladder, but in all, nine pro racers will be sitting on the outside of the show if there isn't another qualifying session on tap.
10:00 AM UPDATE
In an incredibly optimistic move - or possibly someone's just started drinking early in the day - NHRA has released their proposed schedule for today's racing at the Winternationals. It starts with the conclusion of the first round of Super Comp eliminations, then after the de rigeur "over the top" track prep, goes straight into the second qualifying session for the fuel cars, followed by Pro Stock, then the Top alky classes.
After a short intermission, another full session of fuel and alky qualifying is on tap, followed by the first round of Comp eliminations, then with almost no turn around time, the first round of Top Alcohol elims. Rounding out the day will be the second round of sportsman eliminations, paving the way for a standard full day of pro and sportsman eliminations on Sunday.
I'll be very, very surprised if anything like that schedule can actually be carried out today. Good on them for trying, but reality in the form of at least enough rain to keep the cars in the pits and/or the staging lanes is going to dampen more than just everyone's spirits down in Pomona today. I really hope I'm wrong, as NHRA needs to have a good start to the 2011 season after last year's "if anything can go wrong, it will... and then some" start (and end) to the 2010 national event schedule.
More news from the Winternationals as it happens. If it happens. When it happens. And most of all: why it happens. Stay tuned.
11:00 AM UPDATE
In an entirely predictable scenario, except for the HAIL, the track drying at the Winternationals was halted "briefly" by a small downpour. That ended fairly quickly, and the track drying has recommenced, but the schedule is already undergoing revisions, and the Super Comp eliminations have dropped into oblivion for the time being, while the fuel cars are on tap for a noon start, followed by the second qualifying session for Top Alcohol. That's the schedule, for whatever it's worth. More news as it happens.
12:30 PM UPDATE
And they're off and running at Pomona, as the weather is holding off long enough to get at least one qualifying session in for the Pro cars. It remains to be seen if the alky cars will get their second hit or get through the first round of eliminations later in the afternoon. Current conditions are an adjusted altitude of 1800 feet and air temps of only 58 F. Yikes, did everyone remember to pack a winter jacket? More news later on the results from this afternoon.
To see previous updates go to the What's Old page