Posted: Sunday, May 18th 2014 at 9:44pm
Rain pushes NHRA Southern Nationals finals at Commerce to Monday
By Pete McCole
Persistent rain shows in Northeast Georgia finally won out, forcing NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing officials to push the finals for the Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway to Monday. / Photo: Courtesy NHRA Media
COMMERCE — Officials with the NHRA have postponed the Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway until Monday due to poor track conditions brought on by persistent rains showers that have plagued the event since Saturday.
NHRA officials attempted to resume racing Sunday evening after an eight-hour rain delay, but following four pairings in Top Fuel including a nearly disastrous run by Bob Vandergriff, all track activity was halted.
"Track conditions were challenging after the day-long rain in the area," said Graham Light, NHRA senior vice-president of racing operations. "The NHRA Safety Safari worked hard to bring racing conditions around, but we decided to postpone until tomorrow. We will scrape the starting line overnight like we do prior to the event and prepare it for racing on Monday."
During the brief racing session that did take place, the Top Fuel cars were having difficulty finding any grip with some pairings going up in smoke right at the start and both cars pedaling down the racetrack.
The deluge of rain that had fallen all weekend caused much of the rubber that was laid down on the track to wash away. Rubber from the racing surface could be seen peeling of the racing surface as cars ran down the track.
Only Shawn Langdon, Steve Torrence, Clay Millican, Spencer Massey and Pat Dakin were able to advance during the Sunday's session.
After completing his run where he briefly went on two wheels before regaining control,
Vandergriff walked back up the race track from the finish line and could be seen having a heated discussion with Graham and other NHRA officials.
"I wasn't going to let them run another car down the racetrack," said Vandergriff. "I couldn't see - the sun was right in the face of the Christmas tree. I almost crashed my car, the race track is terrible after the rain. There is no way we should have been racing on it.
"I wasn't going to let another car go down the track, even if I had to walk down the middle lane to stop it. I was going to do it. It's not safe and the drivers shouldn't be going down the race track."
Track conditions had been treacherous all weekend due to the changing weather conditions, leading to several crashes including a terrifying crash by Antron Brown on Friday night. Brown was uninjured in the crash.
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