NHRA Mum on Demand for Complete Do-Over of St. Louis Pro Stock Eliminations

At least one team official contends that traction compound was improperly applied for the NHRA event at St. Louis.

The NHRA has so far been unwilling to allow for a do-over from the start of Pro Stock eliminations.

The NHRA is next in action this weekend at Ennis, Texas

When NHRA president Glen Cromwell and his vice president colleagues Ned Walliser and Josh Peterson look at their cell phones at the start of each day, they can count on an encouraging greeting.

Scott Woodruff, director of Media and Motorsports at JEGS, has been contacting them faithfully: “I’m sending a text message every morning when I wake up to Glen, Ned, and Josh, telling them, ‘Today’s a new day. You can make a right decision today.’ “

What Woodruff wants is the NHRA to allow the Pro Stock class to start afresh its eliminations from the Oct. 2-5 event at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis.

The NHRA has not responded to Autoweek’s requests for its side of the situation.

The category’s on-track action was halted in the middle of the quarterfinals of the Mopar Express Lane Midwest Nationals because of safety concerns with the track preparation. Veteran driver Kenny Delco crashed violently in the first round. Deric Kramer’s tires ripped up huge chunks of the racetrack, and a handful of other qualifiers narrowly had missed wrecking their high-horsepower, low-downforce cars.

Woodruff said the problem was that the NHRA applied the traction compound to the racing surface but didn’t drag the lanes to ensure the compound adhered.

“The problem is they’re spraying, spraying, spraying and not dragging at the top end. None of that stuff is sticking. It’s just making it worse,” he said about the elimination-Sunday conditions, which worsened with the rapidly dropping temperatures.

Woodruff requested on the spot that Walliser and Peterson give every Pro Stock racer a do-over because the NHRA hadn’t presented a safe racing surface. He said he told them, “I commend you guys for stopping eliminations, but we need to look at re-running these cars.” He said, “They said, ‘Uh, we’ll get back to you. We’ve got bigger issues than that right now.”

Walliser did follow-up that day by finding Woodruff and telling him, “We don’t know exactly what we’re going to do yet, but we’re not going to run here today.”

Officials canceled Pro Stock and Pro Mod runoffs, and Woodruff said he learned three days later that the NHRA plan is to resume Pro Stock and Pro Mod eliminations during this weekend’s AAA Texas FallNationals near Dallas—not from the start but from where the racing left off.

“I told them that’s bullshit. That’s not right. That’s not what NHRA was based on. This obviously was a safety issue,” Woodruff said.

In a series of emails to the NHRA executives, Woodruff told them it is “amazingly convenient that you don’t have an appeal process” and reiterated his point that “restarting Round 2 in its entirety in Dallas is the right thing to do. This is a bad situation that needs to be made right. We all know there aren’t a number of races remaining, there was a big uptick in on-track incidents during this race on Sunday, and after further evaluation, there were surface issues that effected high-horsepower, low-downforce vehicles.

“NHRA is based on safety and providing a safe racing surface to all competitors. Pretty cut and dried to me and others. The track wasn’t safe, and that’s why you stopped running after two pairs in Round 2, when back-to-back runs in the right lane got out of shape at the same point in the track [and] both drivers were seasoned enough to pull the chutes to save their cars. The right decision is to rerun all of Pro Stock, starting in Round 1,” he said.

Woodruff said in his emails to them that he was “very disappointed in your inability to do the right thing here. Poor decisions have consequences.” However, he urged, “Let’s all work together to make this right.”

So far, he said, hope of a do-over looks bleak: “They’ve said they’re not interested in doing that.”

But Woodruff said he will continue to text: “I’m going to do that until we run. It’s not like we have 10 races to make their mistake up.”

The season is scheduled to end with consecutive-week events at Dallas, Houston, and Las Vegas.

Sports organizations aren’t typically keen on do-overs, but in this case, one might be called for. What do you think? Who is right this time? Join in the discussion below.

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