Some NHRA drivers disagree with Billy Torrence’s “Loser Appreciation Program” label
- NHRA Top Fuel rider Billy Torrence is the third ranked rider in his class.
- After failing to run a full program in 2019, the NHRA created what some call the âBilly Torrence Ruleâ.
- Some runners argue that the NHRA doesn’t need a countdown.
NHRA Top Fuel driver Billy Torrence, the No. 3 ranked driver in his class and the most recent winner of the Camping World Drag Racing Series, this week called the championship system countdown “The Loser Appreciation Program “.
The sanctioning body twisted the rules to allow more runners beyond the top 10 to become eligible for the six-race “playoffs” (and this year all seven races). They did so in response to Torrence’s qualification for the 2019 Countdown after appearing in just 10 of 18 regular season events. In those 10 events, he won twice in four final rounds; in the countdown he won twice and finished fifth in the final standings.
Fellow Top Fueler Mike Salinas skipped three races in the same year, qualified fifth for the countdown and placed No.7. In Pro Stock, Erica Enders missed two races in mid-summer in 2014, and it paid off with the first one. four championships. So Torrence isn’t the only one who doesn’t run a full program while counting down and excelling. Yet the new rule, more lenient, is called by insiders “The Billy Torrence Rule”.
Maybe sports executives thought they had to act after Steve Torrence asked at the time, “What will it be like if my dad comes out and wins the championship and he ran 16?” of the 24 races? The scenario was not far-fetched. Steve Torrence said the countdown sprint offered âno incentive to run all the races and try to do well. In the end, all you have to do is skate in the top 10 and run really hard for six.
The Torrences – and others – argue that NHRA policymakers have given in to the practice of “Everyone gets a trophy for showing up.”
“I agree with him,” Top Fuel rookie Josh Hart said. âIf you’re not worthy of being in the top 10, you shouldn’t automatically be there. “
Hart, 11th in the standings but not in the countdown, would have easily been eligible for the title had he not missed two races this summer when some of his crew fell ill with RSV, a respiratory virus that can mimic the COVID. It was his choice not to race unless the team can compete as a unit, and he takes responsibility for the decision: âI’m very loyal. . . You have to make tough choices. He said that includes managing his running program by setting goals and figuring out how to achieve them. âEach of us has the same opportunity as [dominator Steve Torrence and Billy Torrence]. It’s up to us to take advantage of it.
One of the goals of the Countdown and its point adjustment ritual to consolidate the top 10 for more drama was to avoid any insurmountable margin for the leader. Billy Torrence’s assertion is, âThis is how it goes. I always liked when [Funny Carâs] John Force had him locked up by Dallas. I don’t care if it was us or the Kalittas or the Forces or Josh Hart or whoever – if they walked, let them speak.
But not all runners agree with the Torrences and Hart. Naturally, they include Jim Campbell of Funny Car and Kenny Delco of Pro Stock. Along with Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Cory Reed, they counted down through the new rule, competing in every race of the regular season and making at least two qualifying passes each.
Campbell, the No. 11 seed of Funny Car, said in response to Billy Torrence: âFirst of all, these [Capco] the cars are running absolutely phenomenal so they’re going to be counting down the points, even if they run half the season. We’re not like NASCAR, where we have 40 cars, and it goes to 20 or whatever. If you run all season you should have a chance to make the top 10 by the end of the year.
âAnd I think it’s just because we’re here every weekend. The other cars are gaining points, that’s good. But if you are a full time car, I don’t think there is anything wrong with these cars counting down – because it takes a lot of time, work and effort to get to. every race, âDiPinto Dodge Charger driver for Jim Dunn Racing said.
“So put it this way: if there were only 10 cars in the countdown and six or seven other cars didn’t show up, how good is that going to make the sport fun to have 10 cars? Someone is going to get a goodbye. Someone’s going to have two byes. So that wouldn’t make it fun. So I don’t know, âCampbell said.
âBut I’m happy to count down,â he said. âSo if this is a Participation Prize, thank you. I participated and I am more than happy. If I can find myself in the 10th, the ninth, the eighth, then that’s a great marketing tool for next year, saying we’re in the top 10.
When he took the provisional No. 1 qualifying position at the countdown opening last weekend in Reading, Pa., Three-time Funny Car champion Robert Hight said, âI honestly don’t think so. that we need a countdown in Funny Car. With the quality of cars you have and as many as there are, you don’t need a countdown.
Campbell said, âWe don’t have enough cars to really have a countdown. If you run the races and everything and earn your place in the top 10 in points by the end of the year, whether you’ve run 10 races or 20 races or nine races and done it in points you can do it on any of the points for the top 10. I think all passenger cars should automatically count down. I understand that in some classes you have a [huge] points lead.
âI’m just excited to be in the countdown and actually have a chance to make the top 10 for the first time in my career,â he said. âAnd yet we got here. . . that’s what the rules say, and I’m happy with it. I showed up at every race. We did the minimum number of qualifying laps.
âIt’s good for sport. You have more cars in it, âCampbell said. âPro Stock is the same and Pro Stock Motorcycle. I think it’s fair. I have no problem with that. Capco cars are obviously tough cars. They are well funded cars. We try to do our best with the budget we have.
Veteran Delco used the new rule to score his first spot on this year’s Pro Stock countdown as a No.11 ranked driver, and it gave him a boost.
âIt encourages runners to attend all races and support the NHRA and the fans. It also gave us full fields in Pro Stock in every race this year, âsaid the KD Racing Camaro owner-driver. “It’s great for our fans, and at the end of the year we’re rewarded with the opportunity to compete for a top 10 spot. It’s a win-win.”
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