POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS AS COMPETITION HEATS UP FOR FINAL EVENT IN COMPETITION ELIMINATOR BONUS FUND
The Division 4 Comp Eliminator Bonus Fund has been heating up all year, and as the series moves into the final event, the possibilities seem endless.
Competition Eliminator will be in the spotlight this weekend at the Texas NHRA FallNationals to see who will walk away with cash prizes totaling over $225,000.
Recently, Competition Plus sat down with the Hudson family - Ashton, Mignon, and their daughter, Bliss - to discuss all the scenarios that might surface this weekend. This dedicated family has been working with the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series all year to bring attention and excitement to this program.
The Comp Eliminator Bonus Fund was the brainchild of Rodger Brogdon and has since gained additional sponsors to support this highly competitive and complex category. While the winner will receive $100,000, all drivers who finish within the top ten will receive prize money, making every round vital for the 20 drivers in the hunt. Mathematically speaking, anyone in the top 20 can get into the top 10 by performing well at this event and especially considering that the Texas NHRA FallNationals is worth points and a half.
“The top 3 - Greg Kamplain, Chase Williams, and Adam Hickey- are really the only ones in contention for the championship,” said Ashton. “Then, from that point down, pretty much anybody in the top 20 can get into the top 10. Even the number 20 driver, Joey Tanksley. If he were to win the event, he could probably get into the top 10. Since we are doing points and a half, one round could make a huge difference.”
Additionally, because the Comp Bonus Fund only counts the six best performances out of the eight possible events that count toward the competition, some drivers may get to throw out a previous poor performance if they do well in Dallas. That breaks the competition wide open.
Scheduling at a drag race must remain flexible. Even if a sportsman category is supposed to get multiple qualifying passes, that doesn’t always happen due to unforeseen delays.
“Normally, at a four-day national event, we get three qualifiers on Thursday, and then the first round is Friday morning,” said Ashton. “If all the qualifiers are on the first day, there will be a lot of intrigue in that first session. The air conditions look like they are going to be pretty good. The first session in the morning will probably be the quickest. So, trying to put yourself in a position on the ladder to make it advantageous for the first round, that first session will be critical. If more people don’t run it all out in that first session, it will be harder to jump up in the next two sessions. It changes session by session and depends on who goes number one in each session and how far under they go.”
Essentially, it’s like playing the ultimate round of chess with a host of unknown variables. And that’s the intriguing part of Comp Eliminator. The complexity and strategy that go into winning are unparalleled. It’s a thinking person’s game. Each competitor strives to be several moves ahead of everyone else on the ladder.
The other thing that will play into this competition is whether or not it will become a mineshaft [extremely favorable weather conditions] race. The top qualifier in the bottom half of the field needs to be .61 or more under their index to make it a mineshaft race. What does that mean? It means that drivers will not hit their permanent index as easily. They get an extra cushion of .05. All of these determined teams will be considering this when preparing their strategy for the weekend.
“There are a lot of spreadsheets going on out there, and drivers will look at the entry lists and then come up with a theoretical qualifying list based on that,” said Ashton. “In general, they know what most cars are capable of. So a lot of people don’t like to enter the race until they absolutely have to because then that shortens the other person’s time to strategize.”
Bliss made a series of videos featuring the top 20 competitors in the hunt for the Comp Eliminator Bonus fund.
“Basically, we just wanted to give everyone a rundown and a reminder about who is in the hunt because not everyone goes to the website to look at the points standings,” said Bliss. “All the racers do because they’re a little obsessed with it. But I kind of wanted to give everyone a rundown and reminder of everything that’s happening, like who all is in the top 10 and what their points are, and what their potential points could be if they win the race. It’s an easier way to show the math without having to make a math video because no one wants to watch that.
“Like we said, the top 3 are pretty much the only ones who really have a shot to fight it out for number one unless something absolutely crazy happens. But between number eight, which is Rodger, all the way down to 16, there’s only a 30-point spread. So that’s really close. And since this race is a national event, it’s worth points and a half for the program, so a whole lot can happen because most of these people have six or seven races, and we only count the top six towards their total. So it could very easily knock out a first-round loss from another event and replace it with a much better performance from this event. It’s going to be insane.
“And another thing we talked about, too, is a lot of these people have either multiple cars or family members who could also race in Comp. So we assume a lot of them are going to bring their extra cars to block. Those will play a big role in what could happen.”
“It’s all very interesting,” said Mignon. “There are just so many things going on and so many different possibilities.”
Lest we forget, among all those uncontrollable variables lies perhaps the most important one of all - the weather.
“One of the good things right now, looking at the weather - at least what it’s predicted to be - is that it should be equal across the board for all the different car types,” said Ashton. “So, if you have a really good track, which Ennis normally is, especially when it’s prepped for a national event. And then you have good air; it makes door cars equal to dragsters. I think the reason you have three dragsters in the top three is because a lot of the tracks that we went to this year were sub-optimal, especially for door cars. The air was really bad at a lot of events which was sub-optimal if you have a small cubic inch motor or do not have a power adder. So this race should be pretty equal along those terms.”
“Which makes it exciting,” added Mignon. “Dragsters tend to do well in bad air because they can get down the track and door cars can’t, which is great for them for sure. It’s part of what makes our sport so unique.”
Amid all of the speculation and calculation, there is an additional opportunity for one lucky driver. If Greg Kamplain, who won the Houston national event earlier this year, wins the Dallas national event, he will receive an additional bonus of $25,000. Kamplain, however, isn’t thinking in those terms as he travels to Dallas.
“No matter how everyone finishes,” said Kamplain. “We need to give Rodger a big thanks for all his efforts to keep Comp more interesting for both racers and fans.”
Indeed, in a sport where individual competitors seem to agree on very little at times, everyone is unanimous in their appreciation for Brogdon, the Ashton family, and all of the sponsors who have dedicated time, energy, and funds to this incredibly beneficial program.