Editorial: Has NHRA Finally Leveled the Nitro Playing Field?

We have all heard over the last week or so the complaints about the track prep that NHRA is doing. Has anyone taken the time to really think about this and look at the positive affect this can have? 

Last weekend in Charlotte at the 4 Wide Nationals, it was a single car team that took home the win in Funny Car and almost immediately there were drivers complaining about track prep. Instead of complimenting the NHRA for making a change to finally try and slow the cars down, along with making it a more level playing field, drivers took to social media to complain. 

What I find interesting is the ones that come up and complain about the track prep at an NHRA event. I don't see the smaller teams, or single cars team crying about track prep at all. In fact, these teams are keeping their heads in the game and going rounds now. Just in case these drivers forgot, they are all racing on the same surface. 

NHRA moved into Atlanta this weekend, and really it was no different than last weekend. We saw yet again, underdogs going rounds all weekend. On top of that, Clay Millican went 331 MPH this weekend as well. So what is it? Is it that we have gotten so accustom to record runs and 100 gallons of glue every weekend, that actually having to run the track you are given isn't something that drivers and tuners want to do? 

I understand when one lane is dramatically better than the other base on grip, but when both lanes are about the same why do we see people complaining? How many fans you think want to see cars just going up in wheel smoke? I for one am not interested in that at all. I would rather see side by side racing all day long. It's called true parity. Instead of the deepest pockets winning all the time, now it is starting to come back to actual driving and skill. Trust me when I say that fans love it. 

The thought that Cruz was every going to head back to Brownsburg with another Wally was about as crazy as thinking the Cubs would win the World Series. In drag racing we love to cheer for the underdog, and it seems like anyone that isn't part of the big three in nitro you are automatically an underdog. We are talking about drivers like Cruz, Scott Palmer, Tim  Wilkerson, Jeff Diehl, and more. These are amazing drivers that have the ability to win on any given weekend, but now that the NHRA has backed down on the amount of traction compound to 65% instead of the previous 75% it means that the "faster" cars don't always have the outright advantage. 

Drag racing has never been raced on paper, it's been raced side by side on the pavement. If we raced it on paper, there were be no reason to even bother firing up the car. The tuners of these nitro beast are some of the most intelligent men in the world. Names like Phil Shuller, Aaron Brooks, jimmy Prock, Rob Flynn, Tommy Delago, Mike Green, Mike Neff, Bobby Lagana, and more. These aren't men who just go look at a track and make a decision. The amount of data that they poor over is extraordinary.  With that said, it appears that there is going to have to be a change in the thought process with this new track compound condition. 

Isn't the objective of fans spending $100's of dollars to come watch an NHRA event is to be entertained? Isn't side by side racing the most entertaining for the fans? Wouldn't your sponsors rather see side by side racing? For almost a decade now we have complained about how every other form of drag racing was better than NHRA. Complained about NHRA having dwindling fans and being preempted by water polo on ESPN. Now we have FS1, we have side by side racing, we have asses in the seats, and yet people still want to cry.

Folks, this is not no prep racing. This is not radial racing. This is not street outlaws. This is the show, the big leagues, but when you start to cry about it, you start to sound like a minor leaguer. This is the organization that puts on 24 events all over the nation each season. These are multi-million dollar sponsor deals. This is the big time when it comes to everything drag racing. What's good for the NHRA is good for every other area of drag racing. Look at the amount of NHRA pro drivers that want to play in Pro Mod, Radial, or no Prep. Which brings NHRA fans to those areas too. 

So what I am saying is that this prep combination of the 65% compound and 35% alcohol is just the thing we need in NHRA. This seems to be akin to a restart button of sorts. Instead of complaining about what NHRA does, take the approach to support the change, work within it, and help the product become what it used to be. What are your thoughts? Good, bad, or otherwise?