Motorsports Recap And Behind The Scenes Access

Goin’ Nitro Nuts In Cali–It’s The Recliner Report!


Stop Numero Uno–2019 Lucas Oil Winternationals, Pomona, California

Hello. Welcome to the Recliner Report, your internet spot for all things racing. It is a very cool site. The 2019 season promises to be super-fun, and we promise to make the Fox 1 coverage really exciting for you. So, let’s get started, shall we?

Hey! What the %$#&$# was that, and who in the %$#& wrote it??? Dang it, either one of the staffers hijacked the laptop, or it has some kind of virus that produces some of the most boring writing imaginable.

Dudes, I’m so sorry for what you just had to read…that was totally disgusting. That sounded like a press release from a local Garden Club or something. I swear to you, my fellow Recliners, that will NEVER happen again!

OK, so…Woo-hoo! You’re back, and from all the staffers here at Recliner World Headquarters, we are, well, relieved! Man, we thought after all the bean dip eating, Cheeto gorging, and Twinkie measuring we did last year, you would’ve just called all of us idiots and found something better to do than this read this silliness. But, you’re here for another year of Fox 1 Sports coverage of the NHRA 2019 Mello Yello Drag Racing Tour, and maybe even some bean dip, Cheetos, and Twinkies info as well. (Plus some other food surprises on the menu!) In this installment, we call out a Funny Car driver, meet a guy who could be an international spy, and watch humans jump on each other ’cause they’re happy! So…let’s light ’em up!

DUDE, YOUR NAME SOUNDS FAMILIAR…Sunday? Geez, it was a total washout. Literally. Cold. Rainy. Yuck. Only six matchups in the Top Fuel category took place before Mother Nature said, “Uhh…you’re comin’ back tomorrow. Get lost. And here’s some rain to make it easy to leave.” But, before the skies opened up, a star was born in a single pass. Yep, in one four-second trip down the lane, Austin Prock was born. The son of tuner extraordinaire Jimmy Prock, Austin took out teammate Brittany Force in his first-ever Top Fuel Elimination Day run. And, the kid has wheels of steel, as the cold, wet conditions forced him to pedal his ride under waaayyy-less-than-ideal conditions to defeat the 2017 champ.

C’MON, FEEL THE NOIZE…OK, so you’re the driver of a Top Fuel rocket. You have this buddy who helped ya win six championships in seven years back when you were in the IHRA. You were pretty dang successful. The buddy? Well, currently he’s not working with you. Right now, you might be thinking, “Uhh…why in the world not? Let’s go find him!” Well, Clay Millican felt the same way you do, so he got the guy. This weekend marked the reunion of the duo of Millican and his former crew chief Mike Kloeber, and though Clay didn’t take Mr. Wally home with him, the band is now back together. Get ready for some heavy-metal thunder…

SO, YOU’RE THE CHAMP, HUH? WELL, WATCH THIS…J.R. Todd. 2018 NHRA Funny Car Champion. Holder of the winner’s trophy which was bigger than a Volkswagen. Wearer of the really sweet yellow and black Mello Yello leather jacket earned for finishing #1. Dude is a hard-core, intense cat that loves the sport and is not just good, but flat-out killer on the track. So, it was time for his first-round matchup against Bob Tasca, and the moment the light went yellow, he stomped the throttle and went…nowhere. Yep, the cold conditions that affected multiple racers during Round One also bit the defending champ in the backside, and he could only watch Tasca scoot away for the win. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it 37.5 times: anyone can win on any given Eliminations Day. It don’t matter who ya iz…

WE HAD OURSELVES A PEDREGON PARTY!  Round One also featured a Pedregon-Fest in the Funny Car category, as Cruz battled brother Frank, all while other brother Tony was in the broadcast center alongside new-to-the-booth voice Brian Lohnes. Though Cruzer lost traction towards the end of his run, it was more than enough to defeat his sibling, who found himself behind after having his own personal pedalfest shortly after leaving the line. Still, give Tony credit. Dude stayed neutral during the entire matchup, despite probably wanting to tell the audience which one of the participants broke his favorite toy during childhood, or something like that. Brothers can be brutal…

THAT’S IT. WE’VE HAD IT…OK, Cruzer, from all the Recliner Report staffers, we’re callin’ you out. Right now, dude. We are ticked off at you, and we mean business. Here’s our gripe with ya: Dude, where’s the Raiders helmet? C’mon, that was the absolute coolest piece of headgear in the history of drag racing, and it vamoosed! Yeah, we dig the red and black paint scheme you’re rockin’ on both the car and helmet, but…man…that helmet was EPIC! We’ll say it first: bring back the silver and black!

WHERE’S MY BRUSH?  Back to the booth for a moment. Brian Lohnes, who is taking over the microphone previously held by Dave Rieff, probably felt more than a few butterflies moments before his first-ever broadcast, but dude didn’t show it. Instead, Lohnes dove in with vocal cords blazing, and created more than a few memorable comments to enhance the action on the track. During a first-round pass by Ron Capps that ended with the Funny Car pilot scraping just enough of the wall at the top end to shave a bit of paint off the right side of his NAPA land rocket, even with his steering wheel turned left as far as possible, Lohnes gave the credit for the push to “…the invisible hand of thrust” that forced the issue. Sweet. Lohnes paints pictures with words. Dude is good…

JUST A LITTLE BIT EARLY…Roger Brogdon. Back racing full-time after competing in one event last season following a multiple-year layoff from the lanes. The #1 qualifier for the weekend, he lined up against Val Smeland in first-round action. Smeland, though recording a -.214 red light, won the matchup. Why? Unfortunately, Brogdon was already waayy ahead of Smeland, having left the line even before the tree was activated. So, Smeland moved on to Round Two, as Brogdon received no elapsed or reaction times for his efforts. Bizarre…

THINK SHE CAN DRIVE 55?  Fox 1 planted two cameras inside the Pro Stocker of Erica Enders during Round One action to give viewers the feel of cruising with “Double E”, (As she was named by Brian Lohnes) and dang, that girl is ta-len-ted. She burned to a 6.517 at 212.39, all while driving with one hand and shifting with the other. Not sure about you, but some of the staffers in this joint can barely reach 15mph without placing the general public in complete and total danger. Of course, these guys are trying to juggle a soft drink in one hand and a convenience store microwave burrito in the other while on the road…goobers. Anyway, EE is dang good at her job…

I GOT YOUR NUMBER, DUDE…Dig this. “Austin Prock. International Man of Nitro”. Sounds like a super-sweet title for a James Bond-type spy movie, huh? OK, so even though the dude’s not going undercover, we did learn during Round Two of Top Fuel that the rookie is the first member of the Prock family to race in the nitro category since his grandfather Tom competed at, you got it, Pomona, in 1979. And, AP’s car number (374) matches the same digits run on his grandfather’s car 40 years ago. Epic tribute.

OK, SO THAT’S LIKE…A LOT, RIGHT?  150 wins in the Funny Car division. That’s a ton of victories. It’s also the number of triumphs that Don Schumacher Racing would have totaled had they won the category on this weekend. (Uhhh…spoiler alert: they didn’t.) However, that pales in comparison to the fact that IF John Force had won the Winternationals, (Sorry. Second spoiler alert: he didn’t, either.) the victory would have been Force’s…wait for it…150th. Dang, that dude wins a lot. He must be pretty good…

CLASS, IT’S TIME FOR OUR SPELLING TEST–Thank goodness. Life is back to normal now. All of you can breathe again after “The Great Spelling Shenanigans of 2018.” See, last season, Pro Stock pilot Bo Butner went through what staffers could only determine was an identity crisis. Somehow, the spelling gremlins in Butner’s pit area manipulated the letters of his name that decorated the window to his car to read “Bob Utner”, and rather than fix the change, the letters remained the same. “Bo” became “Bob.” The man must have lost his mind with fear over what might take place had someone not known who he actually was. However, during the off-season, cooler heads prevailed, and Butner’s name was returned to the original spelling. Butner? He is aware that all is well. Bo knows. You may now resume your daily lives.

THEY’RE JUST NUTS…Karma. We’ve all heard that she can be a…well, this is a family column. But, Bo Butner found this weekend that spelling karma can work in your favor. See, when you write your name correctly on the side of your car, good things, like picking up your very own Wally, can happen. OK, so maybe, just maybe, the crew in Butner’s camp who put in thousands of hours this off-season to fine-tune his ride into a mechanical work of art and speed had something to do with his success as well. But the staffers swear that fixing the name on the side of the car was the turning point. I swear, these staffers were dropped on their heads at some point in their lives. Every freakin’ one of ’em…

A GREAT DEAL OF GRACE…Following the win, Butner dedicated the victory to his brother, who he revealed died recently, a situation that made his decision to race on the weekend much more difficult. A tough choice by a man who must have been carrying a huge, wide-ranging bag of emotions during this time, and a very thoughtful dedication at a most difficult moment. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bo.

JUST A LITTLE BIT HAPPY…73 thousandths of a second. It takes longer to say that number than the actual time itself. But that was the difference at the finish line that Robert Hight finished in front of Jack Beckman in the Funny Car final. The victory was just another tribute to Hight’s consistency, as he has taken home eight Wallys over the last two seasons, but in a manner that greatly resembled his never-at-a-loss-for-words boss, the win brought out his much more exciteable side, when the normally calm and reserved Californian came out of his verbal shell in a big way for top end reporter Amanda Busick. Cool to see that 15 years after his Funny Car debut at Pomona, Hight loves to win more than ever.

CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN…Doug Kalitta LOVES being a spoilsport. Now, normally that wouldn’t a great quality for anyone to desire, but when it comes to drag racing, Kalitta doesn’t care who you are or how much you’ve won. He just wants to spoil his opponent’s day by beating him or her to the finish line first, and he proved that fact after ending Steve Torrence’s six-win title streak with a holeshot win over the 2018 defending champ. Oh, and his crew members? They LOVE to dogpile when a team member triumphs, and the human mountain range that was created at the starting line by pile of bodies was high enough that they almost needed a guide to get to the top. Epic doesn’t begin to describe the scene.

COULD YOU USE A SUIT OF ARMOR?  Finally, props to Fox 1 starting line reporter Lewis Bloom, who somehow survived the Kalitta insanity and was able to interview crew chief Troy Fasching. Lewis, from all of us at the Recliner Report, we’re taking up money to buy you an insurance policy just in case the Kalitta crew wins a ton of events this season. Dude, you deserve it.

Dudes, the 2019 season is officially off and rollin’, and though it’s only Race #1, we’ve already had photo finishes and a dogpile of insane proportions! Next up? Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park and the Arizona Nationals in two weeks, and the staffers are already loading up on the food supplies. Some are even talkin’ bean dip…with jalapeno! And, there are whispers of habanero hot sauce…

Till then, keep reclinin’!







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