Sunday, August 31, 2008

TrackBite and barbecue and top names

INDIANAPOLIS -- There's good news and bad news from the U.S. Naitonals drag race, the last event before the National Hot Rod Association makes its inaugural visit to zMAX Dragway @ Concord.

The good news is that I was able to find a VERY respectable barbecue sandwich for sale on the concession midway here. Laugh if you will, but the propsect of finding decent barbecue this far north can be daunting.

The bad news is that I asked the folks who run the deal if they'd be in Concord in a couple of weeks. They said no. Surely somebody in the Carolinas will step in and fill that void.

* * *

It's just after 3 as I write this and there's one more round of pro qualifying to go. The big news there is that John Force is still not in the top 16 in Funny Car, which means if he doesn't go faster than 4.208 seconds in the final run he's going to fail to qualify for the NHRA's biggest race for a second straight year. (Here's the 4:50 pm update -- Force will NOT be in the show on Monday. He broke during his run in the final funny car qualifying round.)

One of Force's daughters, Courtney, has made elminations in Top Alcohol, but Brittany, another young Force, did not make the top 16. Ashley Force is safely in the field for Monday's eliminations, but John beat her in Sunday morning's first round of the U.S. Smokeless Showdown.

John's final qualifying run later Sunday will also be a semifinal matchup with Tim Wilkerson in the Showdown. It's entirely possible that Force could beat Wilkerson to move into the Showdown final but not go fast enough to make the top 16 in the overall event. That'd mean he'd run for a win in the Showdown at the end of today's program and then be done for the weekend.

People who hate NASCAR's top 35 rule point to the NHRA's cut-and-dried qualifying as an example of why letting the fastest 43 race each week - with no provisionals of any kind - would work. If John Force can be sent home from a drag race, why can't a Jeff Gordon or a Dale Earnhardt Jr. miss a Cup show?

I've said it before and I still believe it. I think NASCAR is right and the NHRA is wrong on this one. It doesn't do anybody any good for John Force not to be racing in the year's biggest event if he's healthy and able to go. The same goes for a driver like Tony Schumacher, the four-time defending top fuel champion who wasn't in the Top Ffuel top 16 until he put up a solid number Sunday morning.

* * *

My new mission in life is to find out what's in something called TrackBite.

In trying to get ready for the first drag race at the new place in North Carolina, I am trying to ask questions about things that make me curious figuring that people who read what I write about drag racing in the next few weeks might have the same questions.

So I am watching the NHRA folks swarm over the race track here before rounds for the pro classes, scraping up bits of rubber with tiny shovels and smearing all sorts of goo here and there trying to make the track sticky. A big part of this track preparation, I've been told, is this substance called VHT TrackBite Traction Concentrate.

OK, so what's in it?

Nobody seems to know. Or, if they know, they're not telling.

The internet tells me that it's made by Bazell Race Fuels, a company based in Ohio. It is, and I quote, "a unique formula that is designed to create adhesion between rubber, asphalt, and concrete. ...It stays tacky for weeks and won't run off, even in heavy rains. Most of all, it won't harm your track, it actually seals and protects the asphalt."

And, supposedly, it's biodegradable.

I promise I will keep digging on this important story.


Anonymous said...

i often say that dvid poole is the lone ranger of reality in the world of nascar, but he is dead wrong on this. john force missing a race is just how the ball bounces. no one who is worth a damn will ever miss a race if the top 35 were gone.

Anonymous said...

Yes Jamie, they will... because things break. Ultimately, John Force missed the finals because his car broke.

You want to see something wrong in "racing" look at the Indy car race in Detroit today, where the guy who led the most laps and the last one in contention for the championship was penalized and ordered to give up a position for "blocking".

When a race leader is no longer allowed to make every effort to defend his position and ordered to pull over and let someone pass him... that's NOT racing. I grew up in Indiana and was an Indy 500 fan before I'd ever heard of NASCAR. But what I saw today at Detroit wasn't even close to racing.

Anonymous said...

David Poole is a joke. John Kernan knows ten times as much as this talking head for nascar

Bobby said...

The NHRA gives drivers four rounds of qualifying to get in the show. NASCAR gives just one.

Now if just one round of qualifying takes place, the NHRA only takes the six fastest cars or motorcycles into the field, and adds the top ten in points. If there are not 16, the next fastest to add until we get 16 take place.

Last year at Seattle three Funny Cars and one Top Fuel car were bumped from the field when only one round of qualifying was held; they were replaced by top ten in points drivers who had not qualified under the One Round-Top Ten rule.

Hypothetical situation: Round 1 and 2 are rained out. Round 3 starts and Force fails to qualify. Rain again, and Round 4 is rained out. By rule, Force gets in because of the One Round Top Ten rule.

The situation in the IRL race on blocking is actually a rule enforced in many circuits (NASCAR has a no-blocking rule at plate races if a driver is deemed to be blocking to force a driver below the OB line.) There was a 1996 CART race where a driver and marshal were killed because of alleged blocking. Run wheel on wheel contact and the car could sail over the fence and hit dangerous poles, especially on street circuits.

The IRL's "force the other guy to move over" rule is somewhat different than NASCAR's "pass through penalty". If Dale Earnhardt Jr was punished using the IRL penalty he would have been asked just to let those drivers pass him, and he wouldn't have lost the lap on the start.

In the IRL, drivers committing an offside violation are told to give up the position to the other driver. No black flag if that happens.

Anonymous said...

John, Bobby is right. Blocking in an open-wheeled car is much different (and far more dangerous) than it is in NASCAR, that's why they have rules against it. As ABC reported, drivers are warned each week in the driver's meeting about it.

As a fan, it's your right not to like it and watch something else, but the rule was properly enforced.

Anonymous said...

Toyota didn't win the race today ( again )! Nascar officials are grinning like the Cheshire cat.

Anonymous said...

Why are we having this NHRA crap shoved down our throats on If I want to read about drag racing, I'll go to a drag racing website.

Anonymous said...

anonymous said: why NHRA stuff on

I like Formula 1 myself.

Anonymous said...

Because the NHRA ... THAT's racin

Anonymous said...


You're totally wrong on the T35. NASCAR qualifying is a total joke. Have two rounds of fair qualifying. If a Major team can't fight its way in, then why should it be allowed to compete? Racing doesn't owe these guys anything. They made their money racing. The 43 best cars need to be on the track, not the 35 richest teams plus 7. The impound rule needs to go too. It's not fair to handicap 7 teams by making them fight their way in with qualifying setups, while the other 35 get race setup practice time, and then tell them they have to start the event in qualifying trim. In what universe is that fair?

Anonymous said...

Jr got penalized for passing before the start finish line at the drop of the green, no passing to the right until after the line NASCAR SEZ. That was a hell of a move though, there should be no guarantee in racing. Geoff FL

Anonymous said...

Qualifying in NHRA IS the show. The actual finals are a bit of a let down. NASCAR qualifying varies from kind of boring to really boring. Watching Force try and get in to the final 16 an fail is exciting. Watching Jr. run two laps at Fontana and not get in would stink. Every qualifying run in NHRA is the same as the finals. NASCAR qualifying is nothing like the actual race.

Anonymous said...

This NHRA stuff is on because it is exactly what the title says - racin(g). I'm sorry if you have such tunnel-vision about NASCAR, but there are plenty of people who enjoy and follow several forms of motorsports. David - glad you were able to take in the U.S. Nationals!

Anonymous said...

I'm tired of Nascar moving the goal posts during the season( mid season rules change for Toyota, Chase points change ). Nascar officials should have to work on commission.

Anonymous said...

VHT Trackbite is roughly similar to tree sap. As a dirt oval fan recently thrust into the drag racing world I hate it. It gives tons of traction and seems to me makes the drivers job easier. Personally I would be all for throwing out random handfuls of sand along with the VHT so these guys gotta drive the car a little more.

Anonymous said...

Barbecue? Come on David. Next time you're up north, get a bratwurst!

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