Last week, we brought you the unfortunate news that the Dodge Challenger Drag Pak teams in the NHRA Factory Stock Showdown class had essentially been penalized for Mark Pawuk setting class records, so they had to move to a larger supercharger pulley. The FSS class was in action this past weekend and the semifinals saw four Chevrolet Camaro drivers battling for the win. The pulley change for the Dodge teams presented a few challenges – the first of which was simply getting the new 3.75-inch pulley – and the change made the impact that the NHRA was hoping for. Mark Pawuk qualified 13th in Texas (with a 7.701), David Davies qualified 15th (with a 7.744) and both lost in the first round of eliminations, so the top Dodge teams were clearly down on power with the pulley change.
Meanwhile, the top Chevrolet Camaro COPO FSS teams in Texas were running in the low 7.6X range with speeds over 180. In other words, the Camaro teams were running relatively similar numbers in Texas to what Pawuk ran in Illinois while dominating the Texas Nationals, leading Mopar and Ford race fans to call for similar rule changes for the Chevy FSS teams.
Well, those rule changes were announced by the NHRA this morning and the Chevrolet Camaro FSS teams were actually handed tougher changes than were the Dodge teams.
Chevrolet Camaro COPO racers in FSS are required to switch from a 3.25- to a 3.50-inch supercharger pulley while their required minimum weight is increased from 3,525 to 3,550. For comparison, the Dodge teams were required to switch from a 3.50 to 3.75-inch pulley while their minimum weight dropped from 3,575 to 3,525. In short, Dodge had to pull boost (and power) while being able to cut weight while the Camaro teams were required to pull boost and add some weight. In theory, the pulley swap and the added weight should even things out between the Chevy and Dodge teams for their class final – which is held October 26-29 in Las Vegas.
Update – After the initial report, the NHRA made a revision to the rule change, so rather than the 3.50-inch pulley, Camaro teams are required to run a 3.35-inch pulley. This means that the Camaro teams have a lesser boost reduction than do the Challenger teams.
While many racing fans are annoyed at these rule changes that lead to (slightly) slower races, there is one key aspect of these cars that is being overlooked by many critics of the NHRA. The FSS cars from all three brands use a chassis that is certified to 7.50. The NHRA wants/needs to keep the teams from running in the 7.4X range, as that would bring about a whole new headache of getting all of the cars certified to run quicker than 7.50, so while race fans see these pulley changes as punishment for going too fast, the NHRA is trying to keep cars from going too fast for their chassis certification.