Race Weekend Central

Nitro Shots: Final Shot

What are you still doing here? The season is over. Nothing more to see here. Go on. Take some time off and get recharged for 2017 like everyone else is doing. It will be here before you know it. Just a scant three months until NHRA hits the track again in Pomona in February.

OK, so maybe there are a couple of loose ends to tie up. Some last bits of news to impart. A couple of videos left rattling around in the vault. Let’s get that all tidied up and then let’s call it a year for Nitro Shots.

First, for some news. The NHRA held its end-of-season awards banquet the other night. Of course Mello Yello Series champions Antron Brown, Ron Capps, Jason Line and Jerry Savoie were honored for their accomplishments.

There was an addition to the hardware this year as NHRA presented its first ever Lifetime Achievement Award to Connie Kalitta. Owner of Kalitta Motorsports, which fielded cars for J.R. Todd, Doug Kalitta, Alexis DeJoria, and Del Worsham in 2016, and will add entries for Troy Coughlin, Jr. and Paul Lee in 2017, Kalitta was known as “The Bounty Hunter” back in his driving days. Named one of the NHRA’s Top 50 Drivers, he was the first driver to reach 200 mph at an NHRA event.

“I am not usually at a loss for words,” Kalitta said in response to the award. “Thank you for this. I am honored to receive such an award.”

Elite teammates Jeg Coughlin, Jr. and Erica Enders-Stevens had a disappointing year and will not campaign Dodge Darts next season. (Photo courtesy Geiger Media)

In other news, while Jason Line collected the trophy, Erica Enders-Stevens and the Elite Motorsports team had a lock on the last two years, Enders-Stevens and teammate Jeg Coughlin, Jr. did not have the year they expected or even hoped for in partnership with Mopar and behind the wheels of their Dodge Darts. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to call the season dismal. Neither driver even made it beyond the first round of eliminations very often.

It’s probably not too surprising then that the partnership is over and Elite and Mopar will go their separate ways in 2017. Don’t feel too bad for Mopar. It did pretty good over on the Nitro side and will continue its relationship with Don Schumacher Racing. The light at the end of Elite’s tunnel was the strong performance of Vincent Nobile, also driving under their banner, but in a Chevrolet Camaro. While it was not addressed at this time, presumably the “fresh start” team owner Richard Freeman said he was looking forward to in 2017 will see his team cars all back under one marque.

“We really wanted to light up the scoreboards this year with our Magneti Marelli offered by Mopar/JEGS.com Dodge Dart, but we couldn’t quite get it running where it needed to be,” said driver Jeg Coughlin.

Teammate Erica Enders echoed his thoughts, saying “Mopar has been wonderful to work with. It seems we were chasing it all year and never really got the cars where we could challenge for wins. Hopefully we can start writing a new chapter and everyone will move forward into a better situation, including Team Mopar. We wish them nothing but the best because they’ve been great partners.”

And there’s the key to it. Whatever happened, or didn’t happen, this season is in the books. It’s time to move on and think about 2017. Everyone gets a fresh start and a new chance in February.

Hey Y’All, Watch This:

Cleaning out the video vault and here are the final offerings of 2016. The question of the day was what one thing would you change about NHRA drag racing. Here is what the father and son duo of Hector Arana and Hector Arana, Jr. had to say.


Tune in when NHRA returns in February!

About the author

A writer for Frontstretch since 2002, and editor since 2006, Toni heads up the NHRA coverage for the site. She’s responsible for post-race coverage in the weekly Pace Laps multi-series round-up along with the weekly Nitro Shots column featuring news and features from the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. An award-winning former writer for the Presbyterian Church, Toni works in web design and freelances with writing in North Carolina.

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