Coil and Cunningham on 320 foot shorter drag strips Starting this weekend in Denver, NHRA Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car teams will race to 1,000 feet, instead of the traditional 1,320-foot quarter-mile. The change comes as NHRA continues to focus on the safety and any potential changes in the sport.
Austin Coil, crew chief for John Force Racing, and Chris Cunningham, crew chief for Tasca Racing, talk about their views on the change and what it does for their approach to this weekend’s race.
AUSTIN COIL – Crew Chief – John Force Racing Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car – “The way I see it, we have been racing to 1,000 feet for years and hanging on for the last 320 feet. This change is nothing but good. When you get to the top end is when the tracks get a little slippery and you get parts breakage. This change really won’t affect performance numbers that much for the fans. The speeds and times won’t be that much slower. This change just provides everyone more room to slow down and we can still race hard. The Funny Cars and Top Fuel Dragsters are on rev limiters at the top end and like I’ve said, when you are on the rev limiter you really aren’t seriously racing anyway.”
CHRIS CUNNINGHAM – Crew Chief – Tasca Racing Motorcraft/Quick Lane/Custom Accessories Shelby Ford Mustang Funny Car – WITH THE RECENT ANNOUNCEMENT OF HAVING TEAMS RACE TO 1,000 FEET INSTEAD OF A 1,320 FOOT QUARTER-MILE, HOW DOES THAT CHANGE YOUR APPROACH TO SETTING UP YOUR CAR? “The way I look at it is that you always try to run the car as hard as you can to 1,000 foot. Your thought process doesn’t change. So, nothing is going to change for me. I’m not going to change my attitude towards the race. I’m still going to run the car just as hard as we can and the results will be the same. The only thing that is going to change is that the ET [elapsed time] on the board is going to be a little different. It’s something that we as crew chiefs are accustomed to, because after we run and get back to our trailers, we get all of these incremental sheets, so we know what everyone runs to 1,000 foot, it’s just not posted on the board. Not many people get to watch the race from past half-track anyways, because the grandstands don’t go that far. As far as setting up a baseline, it doesn’t change. You still run your car as hard as you can on every part of the track.”
IT’S BEEN SAID THAT A LOT OF ENGINE DAMAGE AND/OR BROKEN PARTS ON THE CAR HAPPEN AFTER THE 1,000 FOOT MARK. “Yes, no doubt about it. Most of your damage does occur after 1,000 foot. The last 320 feet of the racetrack is extremely hard on the racecar. When you go back and look at data when you’re testing and you make runs to 1,000 foot, you come back and think that the motor really looks good. Then you get to the next race and you take everything you learned from testing and try to apply it to the quarter-mile run and now the motor doesn’t look quite as good. It will be good in that respect, because I think team owners may financially see a savings if parts are able to last longer.”