In case you had forgotten -- and I hope that you haven't -- major drag racing returned last weekend in Brainerd Minnesota for the last NHRA Full Throttle Series event before the Countdown to One begins at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. (As Bob Margolis pointed out in his latest issue of the Sledgehammer, there may not be a bigger professional sport in the country operating completely out of the mainstream realm as the NHRA currently is)
Brainerd provided some drama in the Funny Car division, but it didn't impact the Countdown to One nearly as much as last year's controversy in the final pre-Countdown event.
Last year, Robert Hight was battling Cruz Pedregon for the 10th and final spot in the Countdown. As the ladder unfolded, Hight was matched up against John Force -- his car owner -- needed a round win to clinch the final spot. Force smoked the tires, which allowed Hight to win and advance. Tony Pedregon -- Cruz's brother -- used to drive for Force and confronted Force after the race, claiming that Force threw the race to get another team car in the Countdown and that team orders weren't out of the ordinary during his time at JFR.
This year there were no such antics but Bob Bode recorded his first-ever NHRA win by beating Cruz Pedregon, Bob Tasca III, Tim Wilkerson and Jack Beckman. In NASCAR terms, that's like David Ragan winning our famed World Cup of NASCAR.
In Top Fuel, Larry Dixon won his incredible ninth straight final round matchup of the season, and Andrew Hines grabbed the top spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle from Hector Arana, last year's champion.
Top Fuel: Larry Dixon, Cory McClenathan, Tony Schumacher, Doug Kalitta, Antron Brown, Brandon Bernstein, Shawn Langdon, Morgan Lucas, Steve Torrence, Dave Grubnic
Funny Car: John Force, Robert Hight, Jack Beckman, Matt Hagan, Ron Capps, Tim Wilkerson, Bob Tasca III, Ashley Force Hood, Del Worsham, Tony Pedregon
Pro Stock: Mike Edwards, Allen Johnson, Jeg Coughlin Jr., Greg Anderson, Jason Line, Shane Gray, Ron Krisher, Greg Stanfield, Johnny Gray, Rodger Brogdon
Pro Stock Motorcycle: Andrew Hines, Hector Arana, Michael Phillips, Matt Smith, Steve Johnson, Eddie Krawiec, LE Tonglet, David Hope, Karen Stoffer, Craig Treble