Back on May 3rd through the 5th, the NHRA attempted to run a race meet at Atlanta Dragway, but because of relentless rain, the three day event was postponed until this past Friday and Saturday. Even with threatening weather and some sprinkles along the way, they succeeded to pull off the Southern Nationals in Commerce (source: NHRA), which is less than an hour from Atlanta in the northeastern part of the state.
You may have missed it – easy to do – but Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) had another strong day at the track taking both nitro titles in Top Fuel and Funny Car. By the way, before we head into the nitro cars, the other professional class, Pro Stock, was won by Mike Edwards who looks eerily like the dominate car and driver from a few seasons ago when he won 28 number one qualifiers in a two year span and along with those a world championship.
Looking for drag racing? Good luck
However, none of this action was readily available to watch unless you were either one of the hardy souls that were on hand or went on the internet or knew to watch NFL Live and women’s softball on ESPN2. Huh?! That’s right folks, you weren’t to believe what your TV, satellite or cable guide told you. And forget it if you DVR’d the programs … or at least tried. You just needed to believe what the NHRA set on their website as programming times.
Friday’s Southern Nationals qualifying was shown on the first part of Saturday on ESPN2 during what normally is the NFL Live show. Then later Saturday on the same station, in a time slot where women’s softball is, Atlanta’s eliminations were being shown. Isn’t it grand to be a drag racing fan?
If you missed it, DSR was the story
As for DSR’s wins, the team continues to be the team to beat. In Top Fuel, they have three of the top four spots in the standings, while in Funny Car, they have three of the top four spots in points as well, plus last year’s champion (Jack Beckman) is seventh.
Antron Brown won Top Fuel, defeating Brandon Bernstein who was competitive all day even with a bulging disk in his back. With Brown’s victory, he’s second overall, just five points behind his teammate Tony Schumacher. It was Antron’s fifth victory at Atlanta.
In Funny Car, DSR’s Johnny Gray won his second meet of the year, knocking off number one qualifier and teammate Matt Hagan in the final. Gray had to defeat one of his other teammates, Ron Capps in the second round. The victory moved Gray into third overall, behind Hagan and first place Cruz Pedregon who Johnny had to defeat in the semis.
Weather, NHRA & ESPN
The postponement was known in plenty of time to alert satellite and cable outlets. Why you had to trust that what the NHRA said was true as far as when and where it would be televised is sketchy. Still, due to these poor circumstances, none of this racing was easily available to view.
This is not new (check here & here) and the NHRA and ESPN can’t be fully to blame for the awful weather that caused this shuffling of start times. Yet, this is once again another example of the poor programming options available for NHRA fans as both the NHRA and ESPN continually make it difficult to be a fan of the sport. Don’t expect much to change since ESPN has a contract with the NHRA that runs through 2016 (source: ESPN).
If you were lucky enough to see the DSR cars along with Mike Edwards win again this year, you’re one of the few. If not … well, there’s always women’s softball.
Additional source: The Nest
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Daryle has been involved in motorsports most of his life and has three decades of experience inside racemarketing, plus for several years has written and blogged about every type of racing.