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The latest update as of March 20, 2021

The third regional event on the 2021 NHRA schedule is underway at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Featuring the Top Alcohol classes, the event has drawn an overflow field of 13 dragsters (10 injected and 3 blown), but just three funny cars. Three cars for a West Coast-ish event? Hmmm.... On the good side of the news, the bump spot for the dragsters is a 5.62 after one session, which saw 12 of the 13 cars making their first runs of the season. With two more qualifiers on tap for this afternoon, the bubble will almost certainly drop into the low 5.40's or better. On the (not so) funny side of the pits, all three cars - all quality cars by the way - are automatically into the semi-finals and the low qualifier will have a bye into the final round tomorrow.

Contestant numbers in Top Alcohol Funny Car haven't been good to this point of the season, with only five cars attending the Regional opener at No Problem Raceway, followed by nine cars at the "Baby" Gators and the Gatornationals. Now we're down to just three cars at Las Vegas. I've got to think that the turnout at the next event on the schedule, the Denso Spark Plugs Four Wide Nationals, also at Las Vegas, will see a much larger contingent of funny cars.

So what happened to the traditional NHRA season opener, the WINTERNATIONALS? It was originally planned for the week after Easter, April 9 - 11, but the latest health orders in California have precluded that happening until later in the year. How much later? It's really unknown at this point. In a similar vein, the first event on the NHRA Heritage Series calendar, the fabled MARCH MEET at Famoso, California is now tentatively scheduled for May 25 - 27th instead of the obvious early March date. And the rescheduled date isn't even firm at this point.

Let's turn to the good news, and there's plenty of it from the FUNNY CAR CHAOS gang, with their season starting next weekend at the Texas Motorplex. The pre-entry list of Funny Cars was up to 67 cars at one point, but has since fallen to "only".... hold on, STOP THE KEYBOARD.... As of right now, the list is back up to 69 cars, including at least five "Big Show" capable entries (Scott Palmer, Terry Haddock, Del Worsham, Todd Simpson, Terry Totten), and a host of full-on NHRA Top Alcohol cars (Chip Beverett, Ray Drew, Kyle Smith, Bill Naves, Mark Billington, Bill Bernard,). And I won't even try to list the Heritage Series legal cars, but there's lots of them too.

Did I mention the Fuel Altered show that's running in conjunction with the Funny Cars? There were 21 pre-entries, but that's since been trimmed to just 17 cars, almost all of which are burning serious amounts of nitro. Is that enough? Or do you want a few jet cars thrown in, plus "Dirty South" Gassers, and a host of other racing entertainment. Browsing through all the very cool FCC posters produced for this race shows an attempt to set a world record for a Fuel Altered... running a full quarter-mile. The current standard is a 5.286 (set by Joey Haas in 2013) and a mind-boggling 286.07 (by Ron Fassl in 2005). The Farris brothers, with Kebin Kinsley in the HOT seat, will be going all-out to shatter both ends of the record at the Motorplex.

That's enough for this morning, but I'll be back tomorrow with some updates from Las Vegas, and the latest NHRA Top Alcohol points standings on Monday. Stay tuned!