NHRA drag racing took a page from NASCAR and other major sports Wednesday and unveiled a playoff system for its top series to heighten fan interest starting next year.
The National Hot Rod Assn. also unveiled its 2007 schedule for the Powerade Drag Racing Series, which will follow tradition by starting its 23-race season at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in February and ending there in early November.
The series’ new “countdown to the championship” uses an elimination concept over three periods during the season to narrow the title contenders in its four major divisions: top fuel, funny car, pro stock and pro stock motorcycle.
After the first 17 races, each division’s field will be reduced to the top eight drivers in the points standings for a four-race playoff stretch. The surviving top four drivers of that round will then vie for the championship at the final two races, at Las Vegas and Pomona.
The format “will add more excitement and drama to the entire season and magnify the spotlight during the season’s final six races for our fans,” NHRA President Tom Compton said.
“Playoffs have been around for a long time [in sports]” and the NHRA has “kicked around ideas to spice it up at the end of the season for quite some time,” he said.
-- Jim Peltz