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The latest update as of October 17, 2021

FUNNY CAR CHAOS - World Finals - San Antonio, TX

We've got some of the details of what happened last night at the Alamo City Motorplex, but we don't have any numbers... yet. The BIG news is that the "High Risk" team of Ken Singleton took the series championship for the third year in a row. Finishing a close second was series newcomer Kirk Williams in the Williams Bros. Racing "200 Proof" entry, while another "rookie", Jade "Nemesis" Cook upset a lot of blown and/or fuel-burning runners with her nitrous oxide injected flopper.

Rounding out the top five were Daniel Butherus and his "Rat-A-Tude" team in 4th place, and Tom Furches in the "Made in America" Corvette in the 5th spot. While the bottom three (of the top five) took home a $1,000 bonus each, the 2nd place team earned $2,000, while the series champion took the big prize of $5,000. That pales somewhat in comparison to the event win prize money of $6,000 to win and $3,000 for the runnerup in the "A" fields, and $3,000 to win and $2,000 for the runnerup in the "B" fields.

Those payouts have attracted more than a few of the hard running NHRA Top Alcohol cars into the Chaos camp, and that trend will almost certainly continue in the 2022 season. And the number of NHRA Heritage Series (nostalgia nitro) "refugees" is on the same course. It doesn't make much financial sense for the NHRA Big Show nitro cars to compete at Chaos races, but Terry Haddock, Terry Totten, Ray Martin (in a Del Worsham rent-a-car), Todd Simpson, and Del Worsham attended the season opener at the Texas Motorplex. Haddock even showed up at the Finals and made the last qualifying session, but unfortunately wasn't able to hook up well enough to earn a spot in eliminations.

NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals - "Sure Bets and Upsets"

Possibly the biggest news to come out of Bristol this past week was of the off-track variety, namely the BIG announcement from Tony Stewart Racing. On Thursday at a media conference, Stewart announced the formation of a two-car team for 2022 with Leah Pruett in a Top Fuel Car and Matt Hagan running in Funny Car. This continues the downsizing (or dissolution, repurposing, realignment, disassembly - pick your verb) of the DSR (Don Schumacher Racing) juggernaut. It began with the parking of multi-time champion Tony Schumacher on a full-time basis at the end of the 2018 season (albeit with an 8-race cameo in 2020), and the dropping of Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. at the end of last season.

All three of those racers were forced onto the sidelines due to a lack of major sponsorship, and with the COVID pandemic and other related global commerce issues, the short-term outlook for the corporate backing necessary to fully fund a serious nitro team is seriously diminished. Another racer that is leaving the DSR camp at the end of this season, Antron Brown is taking the MATCO Tools sponsorship with him as he embarks on an adventure into the realm of team ownership. That will leave just two cars running under the DSR banner for 2022: Tony Schumacher in Top Fuel and Ron Capps in Funny Car. Quite a change from the days - not that long ago - when it was common to see a pair of DSR cars in the dragster and funny car fuel final rounds.

TOP FUEL After teasing everyone with some great performances at the last few events, Mike Salinas finally broke through with his first win of the season, and in fact, first win since his victory at Bristol in 2019. His team sat out the entire 2020 season, so it's not been as long a drought as it might appear. Runnerup for the second week in a row was Steve Torrence, whose team ran into some serious parts breakage issues (at least three engines), but still holds a 73-point lead over #2 Brittany Force. She has dominated qualifying all season, and even though she landed third on the ladder at this event, was able to rebound with some very quick and fast passes before losing in the semi-finals.

The track records at Thunder Valley took a serious beating, with Steve Torrence ending up with the high water mark at 3.667, while Justin Ashley re-set the m.p.h. mark twice, finally etching a 334.48 for the new speed standard. Ashley's day ended earlier than expected in the semi-finals as an uncharacteristically late leave (.108 reaction time) opened the door for Torrence to take him out and advance to the final.

One serious surprise was the strong performances of Pat Dakin's Commercial Metal Fabricators machine, with substitute driver Spencer Massey at the wheel. Massey filled in for the third time (in the last four races) and after qualifying #9 3.761 - 322.19 pass, improved to a 3.745 - 328.46 and a winlight in the 1st round, before falling to Brittany Force in the 2nd round, despite another solid effort of 3.777 - 320.13, initiated with an .047 light to make it a close race.

More to come....