Class Ceiling

NHRA report: Hot track in Thunder Valley makes for strong weekend in Bristol

Tommy Lee wound up in the sand trap. Competitionplus.com

Welcome to Femmefanaticsports where this week's journey goes to the Fitzgerald USA NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tenessee. You have the Perfect Trifecta: The birthplace of  country music plus The Home of Bristol Motor Speedway, (a NASCAR Sprint Cup track that is one of the most well-known motorsports facilities in the country.) and Bristol Dragway, where  the Fitzgerald USA NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals  event is held.

Just give me that old time Rock and Roll, right on down the track! 

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that  classy First Lady of Drag Racing, Shirley "ChaCha" Muldowney graced the  presence of  fans in Thunder Valley and reminisced about Tom "The Mongoose " McEwen and how thrilled she was when he asked her for her autograph at a track meet years ago. WOW, that is amazing Class Ceiling stuff right there! Just imagine that back in the day, the  Mongoose,  forward thinker that he was, gives her the symbolic Fist Bump, High Five, Atta Girl, by requesting her John Hancock. She immediately paid it forward and bought  and wore one of his shirts and did not part with it for the day. Sweet dreams are made of this! 

A little lightning and thunder would have been most welcome this weekend here in Thunder Valley. A bit of rain  could have cooled the track down ....track temperatures were up to 139.° Now remember, we're in Thunder Valley, so we're talking about  major horsepower,  a super hot track and less track treatment with scorching temperatures, both behind the wheel and on the track. The driver has to make some real time, real life decisions on the dime. Should I stay in it off the starting line? Yes! I have the Holeshot...But I'm smoking the tires...Foot off pedal...Straighten up...Foot back on pedal...Don't touch the centerline...Pedal off...Get back in it... Foot back on the pedal....  watch out for the wall,  foot off pedal, win beam insight, foot on pedal, my opponent coming over the lane, foot off pedal,  Get this win! All in 4 seconds . Just ask Brittany Force .

 Funny thing, as it heats up here, Iron Man Clay Millican seems to have no problem getting down the track, putting his field on the map in qualifying sessions with a 3 second pass! Maybe, just maybe it has to do  with The Thunder from down under Crew Chief, Dave Grubnic. What's the secret? 

Doug Winters lived to tell after crossing the centerline and kissing the wall during Pro Mod Qualifying .  

Pro Stock Rocker Tommy Lee waltzed the Sand trap as his chutes failed to deploy and his brakes failed to grab during third round qualifying. Safety, first, last, always. Great job NHRA Safety Safari!   

Matt Hagan lit the fire as leader of the DSR qualifying pack. There is nothing Funny about those cars.

This weekend's event proved to be , thuderous, brutal, and action packed.

Victory Circle:

Top Fuel: Tony Schumacher, 3.946, 313.58 def. Salinas, 5.251, 152.18.

Funny car: Ron Capps, 4.234, 296.37 def. Tasca III, 4.300, 286.98.

Pro stock: Jeg Coughlin, 6.709, 205.10 def. Anderson, 6.741, 205.07.

Take me out to the Race Track!

June 21-24 2018 

Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals

Norwalk, Ohio

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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