Race Weekend Central

Nitro Shots: Dominance or Parity

Which would you rather see: a team and driver hit on a good combination and put together a brilliant season, dominating the competition, or would you prefer to see a mixed field, with no one team really standing out while a number of different drivers score wins?

If you prefer the first option, then the Nitro classes each feature a driver who, for the moment, has a leg up on the competition. See: Steve Torrence, Courtney Force and Tanner Gray.

Torrence sits 117 points ahead of his nearest rival, Clay Millican, in Top Fuel and already has four wins this season. Torrence has been here before however, and the question surrounding him is whether or not he can continue this performance level once the points are reset and the Countdown begins.

He dominated in the same fashion for most of last season, only to stumble badly down the stretch and watch the championship be won by another driver. Brittany Force did not have the same stellar performance during the regular season, but her team took advantage of the smaller margin to be made up by the Countdown points reset and hit on solid performances over the last six races of the season, earning that group the championship instead.

Can Torrence change things up and carry his strong performance through the final six this year?

Courtney Force hoists the Wally after winning in Richmond. (Photo: NHRA Media)

In Funny Car, another Force is taking the Torrence approach, as Courtney is far and away the class of the field in that class this season. And yet, as Steve Torrence learned, a championship is never a certainty no matter how good your regular season performance is. Has Courtney also learned a thing or two from her sister about how to contest a Countdown?

Like Torrence, she also has four wins to her credit this season and holds an even more commanding 250 point lead over her closest competitor, Jack Beckman. Time will tell if her team can keep going at this pace.

If you prefer an even field with no clearly dominant team, then Pro Stock has what you want this season. The dominance of KB Racing from the last few seasons is clearly at an end. While Greg Anderson is in the mix at the top of the points, Jason Line is mired at the bottom of the top 10, and reigning champion Bo Butner is decidedly middle of the pack.

Currently, Tanner Gray sits atop the points, but not by much. He has just a 26-point margin on Anderson. There are actually four drivers within 70 points of each other at the top of the list. One more point of interest is that those four drivers represent four different teams. Gray runs for his family-owned team while Anderson competes for KB, third place Erica Enders represents Elite Performance and fourth place Vincent Nobile gets his power plants from Elite, but drives for a separate single-car team.

You have to drop all the way to fifth place Drew Skillman to get the margin to three digits. Gray has been strong recently, so it’s possible this is the beginning of a team pulling away from the pack, but so far, Pro Stock has been the example of parity.

Switching gears just a bit, let’s close out this week enjoying a first-time winner, Blake Alexander, the 105th different driver to add his name to the record books for scoring a Top Fuel victory.

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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