RARE CLASSIC VIDEO - 1977 NHRA U.S. NATIONALS
No one thought it would be possible to top the simply wild Funny Car racing at the '76 edition of the U.S. Nationals, but it did happen! The '77 version actually overwhelmed its predecessor, as eight cars dipped below 6.20 in qualifying, three entries posted speeds over 240 mph, it took a amazing 6.234 just to make the elite 16-car field and Don "the Snake" Prudhomme added yet another National Champion's trophy to his collection.
Dennis Baca scored his first career win in Top Fuel, upsetting reigning Winston champion Richard Tharp in the final round. Baca, a part-time competitor on the national event trail and twice a runner-up, qualified well in the 32-car field with an eighth-best 5.99, then ran 5.97, 5.98, 6.05, and 6.08 to face off against Tharp.
Don Nicholson set low e.t. of the meet at 8.61 in qualifying, then ran 8.67, 8.74, 8.72, and 8.73 in the final to beat Glidden, who had to shut down his Arrow after suffering trouble with his car's drivetrain. Nicholson defeated Larry Lombardo in the semifinals, putting an end to one of the event's many subplots. Lombardo entered the event in second place behind Nicholson, but crashed Bill Jenkins' Monza in qualifying, setting the car ablaze. Ronnie Manchester loaned Jenkins and Lombardo his nearly identical Monza for eliminations.