NHRA still looking to pare Pro Stock schedule to 16 races

Where has the NHRA Pro Stock class heard this before?

Racers received a letter this weekend from incoming NHRA Vice President of Operations Josh Peterson during qualifying for the NHRA Toyota Nationals. It sought the drivers’ feedback to the notion of reducing the schedule in 2019 from 24 races to 16, with purses to remain the same.

The NHRA initially presented to the Professional Racers Organization [PRO] a proposal suggesting a reduced purse for a 24-race schedule in 2019 and a 2020 lineup of just 16 races.

Moreover, NHRA official have indicated the sanctioning body is considering limiting the fields to eight cars in 2019 or later, depending on whether the class can fill 16-car grids on a consistent basis.

All of this is what the NHRA tried to do last season, with an uproar from teams. This time around, drivers and team owners are providing mixed reaction.

NHRA President Glen Cromwell told Competition Plus, “We did send a letter to teams, but an official decision and announcement has not been made.”

The NHRA is compiling feedback from the affected parties before finalizing any changes.

Matt Hartford said, "For a guy like me who only runs 16 races a year, I love it, because now I have a chance to race for a championship. If they had made it 24 races and cut the pay, I wouldn't have run at all."

Such a switch wouldn’t disturb Vincent Nobile, who works a variety of jobs in addition to racing. He said, “It makes it a lot easier. For someone like me, who doesn't only drag race, it's great. I have three jobs at home. For some of the guys out here, all they do is drag race. "

Richard Freeman, optimistic about the class despite some high-profile defections, was in favor of a more limited schedule. Current points leader Tanner Gray, 2015 NHRA Rookie of the Year Drew Skillman, and reigning champion Bo Butner won’t be back in 2019. But Freeman plans to enter some races, and Fernando Cuadra will compete along with at least one of his sons, saying this is the perfect time to invest in the iconic but beleaguered category. Pro Stock Motorcycle leader Matt Smith has said he will compete in Pro Stock next season.

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