A burning question from mid-January was answered when the crew chief position on the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger Funny Car was appointed to John Collins heading into the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. Collins will receive his first crack at the lead tuner role, completing a goal of his since he sold his automotive business in Iowa to pursue a career on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Many top teams in the Top Fuel and Funny Car ranks have either transitioned or are in the process of transitioning to six-disc clutch combinations in lieu of the five-disc, four-floater units that had been the norm in recent years. We spoke to a few teams about when and why they made the move.
At a CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals where the results were seemingly determined in alphabetical order with Antron Brown, Alexis DeJoria, and Allen Johnson claiming victories, a big crowd of Arizona race fans watched the drivers throw down on the newly repaved Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park racing surface. The exciting race reached its zenith with DeJoria collecting the first victory of her Professional career.
Entering the season without a crew chief would leave many teams heading up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Tommy Johnson Jr. and the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger haven't endured that fate due to the safety net provided by the other tuners at Don Schumacher Racing.
The 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series kicked off with teams running in midseason form. Cool conditions on the fabled Auto Club Raceway at Pomona surface paved the way for record times and career bests ahoy at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals. Khalid alBalooshi, John Force, and Jason Line each found the winner's circle. Force, in particular, made his way there knowing that the quickest way from point A to point B is a straight line, and he proceeded to obliterate everything in his path.
For one reason or another, most of those who have made a living as crew chiefs in the Funny Car ranks have amassed closets full of different team uniforms. Funny Car crew chiefs shuffle around more than their Top Fuel brethren, and we’re going to explore why that is.
The second issue of National Dragster provided season previews in the Mello Yello and Lucas Oil categories that featured the latest changes and new looks for teams that mainly intend to run for the championship. I also gazed at the entry lists and previous year's points standings and picked up the phone to see what some of the independent campaigners in the Top Fuel and Funny Car categories have planned for 2014. There were a few surprises in store.
Twenty-two nitro teams participated in testing in South Florida in anticipation of the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Some teams dazzled with big numbers while others struggled to get down the track. While expectations based on what occurred should be tempered, there are a few things to take away from the testing results.
Crystal balls used for drag racing purposes tend to be too cloudy from fumes and tire smoke and too dense from the nitromethane concoction to see a clear picture of what's to come. Regardless, I'll do my best to see what lies ahead with five prognostications for the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Clay Millican is full-speed ahead in preparation for the Circle K NHRA Winternationals Feb. 6-9. The popular Tennessean Top Fuel driver enters the season with his third team in as many years following a career year in 2013. He found a new home with Tuttle Motorsports to field a Parts Plus-sponsored dragster and shoot for his first NHRA win.