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Black Belt Battle in Seattle

By
Updated: August 12, 2016

29th Annual Protect the Harvest NHRA Northwest Nationals

August 5-7, 2016

Seattle, WA

After stops in Colorado and California, the Western Swing concluded in Seattle this past weekend at scenic Pacific Raceways overlooking Mount Rainier. Much like the Sonoma Raceway, Pacific Raceways is known for producing impressive performances from past NHRA competitors but for a different reason. Sonoma Raceway has been credited for its track modernization and stellar conditions whereas Pacific Raceways’ surrounding atmosphere attributes to their record of success.  The track is bordered by a forest of trees which emit tons of power-enhancing oxygen to feed the appetites of the high-horsepower machines. Team Litton Racing gets amped up as they eagerly await to see where the progress they’ve made over the last two races will land them this weekend. Jeff Arend notes, “We started working on improving the car’s performance. In order to do that you need to richen the fuel system up and then you can get the clutch going a bit faster. We got the fuel system all figured out and have tuned it up more too so there is a lot more data. Bill is progressing very well. We are headed in a positive direction and now we can start fine tuning the both of us.” In Qualifying Round 1 on Friday, Driver Bill Litton makes a run that puts him straight down the groove with a clean pass clocking in with a 4.04 @ 268.92 mph. Per Driver Litton, “We probably would have broken into the 3’s with that run if the black [blower] belt hadn’t shredded about 150 feet before the finish line!”  Litton landed in the #12 spot of the Top Fuel Division after the first qualifying round.

Saturday brings an interesting start to the day with Driver Litton facing off against Terry Haddock and his Acme Refining dragster in Qualifying Round 3.  Haddock, coming up for his first run of the weekend, is almost instantly pushed off the starting line due to an empty air bottle when his team went to start the car. Litton, on a solo run, launched hard but put a cylinder out early, then banged the burst panel and the chutes deployed automatically. Haddock’s misfortune shows just how much goes into prepping these monsters for battle! Jeff Arend comments on the run stating, “This put a lot of pressure on the guys to get the car serviced with under 3 hours for the next round.” Chuck Worsham, Jeff, James, Cory, Mike, Paul, Greg, and Mike worked at a feverish pace to get back to the starting line for the 4th and final qualifying round.

As Saturday comes to a close, Driver Litton and the Crew make it to the starting line for Q4 against Driver Ron Smith. Smith makes his quickest pass of the weekend but word from the top end is that there is oil in Smith’s lane. He is charged with his first oildown of the season. The NHRA’s oildown policy is set in an effort to eliminate downtime due to oil clean-up and if violated comes with hefty penalties. In Smith’s case it was his first violation and as such it not only results in the loss of 5 NHRA Full Throttle points, but he is also slapped with a $1,000 fine. If the oildown had occurred during eliminations, he would have been penalized 10 points. Had this been his second violation, everything would have doubled causing the loss of 20 points during eliminations and a fine of $2,000!

Arend remarks, “On the last qualifier Bill did the perfect burn out, backed up nice and straight, staged it really shallow, and we were rewarded with the best 60-foot time the car has ever done before, .858 in 60 feet. In laymen’s terms it went from 0 to 100 mph in under a second and in just 60 feet, so that’s pretty impressive. Looking at the computer it was running faster than our 4.02 run and probably on pace to run a low 3.90, but we had a problem with the blower belt. The blower belt came apart. We talked to a couple other teams and think we found a solution for the problem. We are going to switch from a 3-inch-wide belt to a 4-inch-wide one.  I am confident that the next time this car comes out you will see it do a 3.90 on a 300 mph run!”

Despite the tremendous progress Team Litton Racing has made throughout the Western Swing, they do not end up qualifying for Sunday’s elimination rounds. Del Worsham sums it up best saying, “I think we made huge progress with the racecar even though the results weren’t really what we were all looking for. Our future races are going to be much better. I think as a team we have come together and Bill’s driving has been right there on par with the professionals out there. I am looking forward to trying this again and looking forward to racing with Bill again.”

Team Litton Racing will be back in action for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at the Lucas Oil Speedway in Indianapolis August 31st – September 5th! For more details and updates follow our Litton Racing page on Twitter and Facebook and like us on Instagram @teamlittonracing