The world’s faster motorsport is back, as the NHRA season opening Winter Nationals is just days away.
The new season will see many changes including:
- The return of Dave Connolly and Erica Enders to Cagnazzi racing,
-The pregnancy and year off for Ashley Force Hood.
-Spencer Massey to drive for Schumacher racing.
-Mike Neff returning to drive as well as maintaining his crew chief duties.
-Del Worsham switching to Top Fuel.
-NASCAR driver Kurt Busch to make pro stock debut.
As the drivers and teams ready themselves for the trip to Pomona, California, here are 10 predictions for the coming season.
First Pro Stock Female winner:
With Erica Enders returning to where she had her greatest success, her first win should quickly follow. While the odds are that Erica will be the first, there will be other ladies in the class as well. One of them will get the first female win in the class.
The past nine Top Fuel championships/countdown winners have been won by one of these two drivers. With the countdown format, a driver will not have to be better than either of these two drivers for all or even most of the season. A few lucky races at the end of the year will end the streak of dominance by these two greats.
Two of the main challenges will likely come from their new teammates. Spencer Massey is joining the Schumacher team and Del Worsham is switching back to Top Fuel joining Dixon, each figure to push their teammate. Other challengers will include Antron Brown and Doug Kalitta as they try to topple the Shoemacher/Dixon streak.
Hagan will not be champ...yet.
One would think that by being the runner up last season that Hagan would have the inside track to take over the top spot next season. Over the past 12 years, only once has the previous season’s runner up moved up that one monumental step. Hagan will have another good season but will not take the title home. Look for a fourth place finish this season.
Pro Stock Motorcycle:
Only seven riders have won the first 20 motorcycle championships (1986-2006). Five of those seven would win the championship at least three times; Dave Schultz (six), Angelle Sampey (three) Andrew Hines (three), Matt Hines (three) John Meyers (three). That trend changed in 2007 when Matt Smith won the title. Since then, a new driver has won each year. The string of four first time champs will end this year as a former champ will reclaim their throne.
Connolly wins it all:
Connolly will be the Pro Stock Champ. Already one of the most feared leavers in the class, he now should have a good car under him as he joins an established team. Look for him to take home his first championship this season.
Funny Car will see a first time winner:
The last several seasons have seen a first time race winner emerge from the class. Some have been recognized up and comers; others have been all out surprises. This season, the trend continues, as someone will get their first pro win in Funny Car.
Pro Stock has some of the closest races in the sport. The prediction here is that there will be at least eight different winners this season.
After finishing in the top three five times in his career, Ron Capps finally fulfills his dream of being the champion. Jack Beckman and John Force will push him the entire season, but in the end, Capps will win it all.
Records will fall:
The current records ar
Top Fuel ET 3.771 MPH 325.61
Funny Car ET 4.011 MPH 316.38
Pro Stock ET 6.509 MPH 212.46
Pro Sotck Motorcycle ET 6.811 MPH 197.65
Top Fuel will see a new ET record but not MPH.
Funny Car will see both ends of the record reset.
In both Pro Stock classes, even more so than the nitro cars, they are at the mercy of the weather. Conditions have to be perfect in order for them to even have a chance at great performances.
Even with that hurdle both classes will see ET and MPH records this year.
Funny Cars will hit the three second zone this season.
John Force proved last year that he was back by claiming his 15th championship. With nothing left to prove, he will put an all out assault to be the first to break this barrier. He just missed out on being the first into the 4’s and the first 300 mph pass, and that bothers him. I expect that he will be the first, but regardless, somebody will break this barrier.