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Outside the Lanes: Randy Cunningham's Barcalounger-view of ESPN drag racing coverage

Welcome to Vegas! During installment four we learn about talking to Funny Cars, the resignation of Ron Capps’ crew chief Tim Richards, and Tony Schumacher’s “boom-whoops.”

Updraft alert--Hold on to your skirts! It’s windy at Vegas!

When will Shawn Langdon win?--According to Dave Rieff, “Let’s face it, when you come here and race for Alan Johnson, you win early, you win often, and the expectations are high.” The proof is in how many races it took before these high achievers who worked for Alan Johnson captured their initial Wally: Larry Dixon—3 races, Del Worsham—2 races, Gary Scelzi and Tony Schumacher—1 race each.

Lacking in confidence? No way! Terry McMillen claims a first round win on a holeshot over Khalid Balooshi, his first round win since last year’s U. S. Nationals in September. “We’re trying to get into the Top 10 this year. ..we’re gonna get it done…this is the year.”

Huh? Wha? When? Why? As we watch the body of Ron Capps’ funny car loaded into the pit area, Gary Gerould reports that Tim and Kim Richards announced they were leaving Capps’ team late yesterday. Gerould states that he talked to Don Schumacher early Sunday morning and that the departure took him “…totally by surprise, and that we’ll start looking for a replacement within the organization and also outside the organization.”

A class act--Epic photo collection of the late Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins. As Paul Page stated, “An icon of Pro Stock. He knew more than most men even began to know about the sport. And boy, what a legend.”

Really? Seriously?--Tony Schumacher is 0-9 in finals since his last win.

U-g-l-y, you ain’t got no alibi--Schumacher pedals, then pedals, then pedals some more in his first round win over Troy Buff. Not exactly a picture-perfect victory, as the Sarge run a 5.914 after Buff broke just off the line. Mike Dunn kept it simple as he laughed, “That was ugly.”

Let’s go to the data, shall we? Dave Reiff asks Schumacher’s crew chief Mike Green how much data can be used from the Sarge’s first round run. Green hesitates, then grins slightly as he states, “About the first five feet.”

Oh, come on. How much? So, what was Antron Brown’s margin of victory in his first-round win over Shawn Langdon? A paltry seven ten-thousandths of a second. For all you visual learners, that translates into four inches. Yep. Four.

Does your car talk back? Nice feature on Alexis Dejoria which detailed her history in Top Alcohol Funny Car, her desire to pick the brain of Del Worsham even before he became her crew chief, and her ability to communicate with her car. (Yep, she loves to talk to her.)

Dude, that’s awesome—Bob Bode has what has to be the coolest team name in racing right now. Stupid Fast Racing. Unbelieveably cool.

Hit the brakes! In a semi-technical feature, Robert Hight describes what goes on in the cockpit during a pedalfest, similar to what took place during his recent win at the Gatornationals. According to Hight, a quick pedal during the first 100 feet will “…calm it down” and quickly solve the problem. However, after 100 feet the game quickly changes, and “…squeezing back on the throttle will get the driveshaft back under control.” Mike Dunn then added that features available on the car will take about 2000 horsepower out of the engine to get it hooked up. All this in just over 4 seconds. Insane.

No bull, dude--In a highly technical interview with Dave Reiff, Tony Schumacher revealed that he pedaled his Top Fuel ride nine times during his first round run against Troy Buff, describing the sounds made inside the cockpit during his pedalfest as “Boom-whoop, boom-whoop, boom-whoop.” Schumacher added, “Everybody needs to get a shot at pedaling once. They’re easy when they go straight, but that’s bad to the bone. It’s like riding a bull, man, and I love it.”

Breath in, breath out--Matt Hagan defeated Mike Neff in a first-round Funny Car matchup. It was Hagan’s first round win of the season…we’re in race number four, folks. Hear that sound? It’s Hagan’s sigh of relief.

Where’s Chicken Little? Three of the four John Force Racing cars lost in the first round of Funny Car competition. Better check the sky. It could be falling.

Gentlemen, open your pocketbooks!--The Weekend Wow Factor detailed some of the weekend’s flashier and pricer fires and explosions. This week’s honor roll included Matt Hagan, who scattered parts all over the track during a qualifying breakdown, as well as Bob Bode, who backfired the supercharger and blew a hole in his windshield at 280-miles-per-hour. Finally, Clay Millican brought the heat with him across the finish line following a mid-track boomer.

The General is no longer in command—After the resignation of Tim Richards, Ron Capps joined Paul Page and Mike Dunn in the booth, and talk quickly turned to the surprising turn of events. Capps’ version? “Yeah, it transpired last night after the qualifying run. I wasn’t in there, I don’t know exactly what happened, but Tim and Kim resigned. We’re going to stay and test our NAPA car Monday with Rahn Tobler calling the shots, and the great thing about DSR, without going into too much length, is the great gene pool of talent we’ve got, including crew chiefs, drivers, crew members. I’m concerned about my crew guys in the whole thing, because they’ve been with me since the time I went over to Schumachers with the Brut car, so I feel for them. They’re like my kids, and I just hope everything pans out OK, and I’m sure it will. Don Schumacher makes great decisions, and he has what he has for a reason.”

Uh, oh. Cover your head--We are one hour, fifty-five minutes into the show, and John Force has yet to grace the screen. No interviews, no sightings. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Yep, the sky must be falling somewhere.

He’s baaacckkk! One hour, fifty-nine minutes into the show, John Force is spotted walking off the starting line after Robert Hight’s second-round victory over Gary Densham. All is right with the world!

So, what’s next, Don?--Gary Gerould talked with Don Schumacher regarding the resignation of Tim Richards. His response? “We’re looking at our options and deciding what we’re gonna do. We’ll make some decisions next week, and go forward from there. That’s all we can do. I’m very blessed with a lot of guys, crew chiefs, and assistant crews here at DSR. We’re not under that kind of pressure. We’re gonna be OK. We’ll go forward. The NAPA car will test here on Monday, and we’ll figure some things out and go from there.” When asked if he would stay within his organization to replace Richards, Schumacher stated, “That’s unknown at this point. My choice would be to, but I don’t want to dilute my talent and spread things too thin, so we’ll continue to look at the outside and see what’s the best thing to do.” Gerould then asked Schumacher how surprising he found the Richards’ decision to be, and he replied, “I was very surprised by it. The car didn’t qualify, which creates a lot of pressure on everybody, myself included, and I was very surprised that they decided to resign.” Gerould followed with a question regarding any performance clauses that have to be met, and whether a non-qualifying car costs Schumacher, to which he replied, “I’d rather not go into contract details.”

What you talking about, Ron?--Still in the booth, Ron Capps mentioned to Mike Dunn, “Mike did I tell you that at the Heritage Series I ran into Austin Coil at the starting line?” to which Dunn replied, laughing, “No, you did not.” Capps continued, “He said he had a great vacation. Maybe he’s over his vacation. Austin, are you listening?” While Dunn and Capps are laughing, Paul Page states, “That’s a great rumor to start.” Dunn adds, “That’ll get the message boards going, or the tweets, whatever the heck you guys call it nowadays.”

The magical mystery show--Two hours, thirty-four minutes into the broadcast, and still not a single word or camera appearance from John Force. This is getting weird.

Hey, I’m going to Disney World! OK, I’m not--Following his victory over Vincent Nobile in the Pro Stock final, Allen Johnson quipped, “I’m going on a Caribbean cruise every week.” Gary Gerould filled in the details, saying that Johnson had just returned from the islands of the eastern Caribbean.

OK, it’s about time!--Woah! At two hours and fifty-three minutes following Robert Hight’s final-round victory over Bob Tasca, John Force finally appears on camera with Dave Reiff…and he speaks! Life is good again!