The NHRA playoffs are halfway through and probably half the field has been eliminated depending on which category you’re examining. With just three events left on the calendar, who still has a legitimate shot at winning a championship? Here are the four professional classes and who’s still in the Countdown to the Championship title hunt.
At a glance, you might say there are likely four drivers still in: points leader Shawn Langdon, along with Doug Kalitta, Spencer Massey and Morgan Lucas, who are all essentially two rounds from the top spot. However, seven-time champ Tony Schumacher, who is 72 points back, can never be counted out. And his teammate and defending champion Antron Brown is a car and driver who can get hot and make a big run even though he’s 102 markers back. Consider six drivers still with a genuine chance at the championship.
Matt Hagan leads John Force by just six points which effectively makes it a dead heat so far. Last year’s champion Jack Beckman is just 44 back and 2009 champion Robert Hight is only 48 points back of first and has been charging of recent. Cruz Pedregon is 83 points behind first place but he’s the kind of guy who can get hot and with that, we’ll keep him in the running. It looks like sixth place Ron Capps has dug too big a hole to come from 111 points back and have any shot, so he’s out.
This class looks like the one to watch as no particular driver seems capable of grabbing control of the points race. Mike Edwards is just 10 points ahead of Jeg Coughlin with Jason Line only 30 back. Fourth, fifth and sixth are all legitimate contenders: Erica Enders-Stevens, Shane Gray and last year’s champion Allan Johnson are less than 70 points behind the leader.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
Matt Smith has a somewhat comfortable 75 point lead over Hector Arana and Arana Jr. Michael Ray is 92 markers back and since there are only three riders ahead of him, technically he could still make a charge for the title.
That’s a total of 21 drivers or slightly more than half who are still legitimately in the running for an NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championship. These last three races will be very interesting to watch. Next up: Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pennsylvania, this coming weekend.