This week marks drag racing’s big go, what is typically the biggest race of the year, the U.S. Nationals in Indy. It’s usually long and drawn out but in my opinion should always remain that way, as it is our speedweeks, maybe no different than NASCAR stretching out its season opening Daytona spectacle. Let’s also not forget Indy marks the cutoff for the professional racers to qualify for that Countdown to the Championship, but for sportsman racers, it’s still Indy.
While last year’s pandemic changed the way Indy ran and does so again this year, for me it’s a little different. This will be the first Indy I’m skipping since 1992 when my father passed away. Oh, and I forgot I missed the 2002 version after my son crashed one of our cars and my wife, myself and daughter brought him to his first year of college. Those were things which carried a little more importance to me than attending a race. And so it is this year as I’m going through my own health issue. As a side note, I did have a little setback last week with some scar tissue from my operation but we’re working through that.
Getting back to Indy though, last year’s event brought the JEGS Allstars into Indy when the Chicago race was cancelled, which is where the Allstars typically were held. In addition to adding the Allstars to an already crowded event, they also had to bring in Super Street after adding both of the two Top classes (Top Dragster and Top Sportsman) two years or so ago. Last year’s Indy was also reduced to a four-day event which only crowded the schedule more. In typical fashion, most national events are something like attempting to cram 10-pound of you know what into a five-pound bag. Last year’s Indy seemed to try to fit 15-pounds in the same five-pound bag. And so it appears this year, although it is extended to five days, albeit still being completed on Sunday rather than the usual Monday Indy finish.
Qualifying for one of 32 spots in the two Top classes usually gets pretty tough as you can expect the bump spots to be in the low six-second range for both.
In typical fashion, Stock and Super Stock racers look forward to Indy for their class eliminations, class eliminations which take place at only a select number of events. Thursday used to be reserved for Stock class elimins and Friday for Super Stock and it usually took all day long to crown the class champs. A random number of Stock racers were then entitled to attend the Teardown Barn on Friday, while the same number of Super Stock cars had their chance at Teardown on Saturday. That was then… this is now 2021.
Class eliminations for both categories will be held on today, Wednesday. As I mentioned, 15-pounds of you know what…
And this year we have the Automatic Horsepower Factoring System (AHFS) in effect for Stock and Super Stock. For those unfamiliar, a run of a certain number under your index, has the potential for a horsepower adjustment which leads to adding weight to your combination. It’s a lot more complicated than that, but suffice it to say, racers are careful to not go as fast as they can to avoid the adjustment. However, Indy has always been the place where racers throw everything they can at their cars in order to be the fastest of the lot. Granted, Indy in itself is a slow race track due to the usual sticky weather, but that’s beside the point. At the 2020 version, the AHFS was suspended to allow racers to run all out, but reinstated for this year’s Indy. Why? How that’ll affect class eliminations may be anyone’s guess.
And the questions arise. Will class eliminations be completed on Wednesday? Will there be any teardowns? Will any Stock or Super Stockers trigger the AHFS? What will be the bump spot in either of the two Top classes? Should Indy go back to an almost week-long affair ending on Labor Day Monday? Ah… so many questions and maybe no real answers. Unless you have some. Let’s hear them.
I may not be there but my esteemed colleague Phil Hutchison will be there shooting photos and posting them to www.dragracingactiononline.com. Follow along.
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