For those who like to root for the underdogs, the pack runs deep with alternatives to the Chevy and Ford idea, including Andy Mayes' impressive 474ci-powered '70 Challenger, Dave Meister's monstrous '70 Torino with its 524ci big-block Ford, and Ray Cox's purebred '77 Firebird powered by a 477ci Pontiac. Most of these cars are running in the 8.60s to low 8.70s, while the quicker end of the field is down in the 8.30s depending upon the weather and track conditions. This may sound like trailing by a train length, but reaction time plays a key role in tightening up the field and quick cars are sometimes victims of the Tree.
Managing traction is the big key in this class. Almost all the racers we interviewed claimed to either be using or have purchased a programmable digital MSD-7 box. While some may start crying about "traction control," the box is legal because it merely executes what the tuner dials into the machine. The box is designed so that the tuner can pull timing back at the launch and then gradually dial the timing back in to make the power the track can hold without standing the car on it's rear bumper or spinning the tires. The difference between this and traction control is that there is no direct feedback between the car and this computer that would make this an "active" traction-control system.
The racers admit that the guy who can dial in as much power with nitrous as the track can hold without spinning the tires or standing his car on its rear bumper will be the one who will win races. So far, the class has been evenly split through the first five races (the Ohio race was rained out). Coble is the current points leader based on his two victories with Curran in Second followed by Orts, Mayes, and Hines with both Orts and Coble claiming two victories, which also evenly splits the wins between big- and small-blocks. Look for the small-block cars to be strong with good performances by Ford racers Jimmy Bryne and Phil Hines to make this a tough fight in the second half of the season.