Well, we have had nearly a whole season to review it, and rumors of the A/Fueler's death as a result of 98% are largely exaggerated... Given the lack of runs at the lower nitro percentage going into the season, there was much worry over what it was going to do to the nitro cars during the hot months. Evidently, there was enough worry a new cylinder head was developed. All three major head mfg's have developed new A/Fuel heads - Alan Johnson, Brad Anderson and Total Flow - with the new AJ 'Musclehead' being the head of choice at the moment. The new head has been a key part of the A/Fueler's continued dominance during the hot months. Looking back, the original percentage of 96% was bumped to 98% due in large part to testing done by Ashley Force and Duane Shields in Las Vegas, an altitude track. Well, hindsight is always 20-20, but Force hasn't exactly set the world on fire even on 98%. She's ran good when the air has been good, and really struggled once the mercury rises, or altimeter. Also, the digital hydrometers that were being used were not calibrated properly, resulting in the nitro they ran being even lower than what the hydrometer was showing. Meanwhile, nobody wanted to talk about the 5.41 Gunderson ran on 96% in testing at Bradenton... The A/Fuelers came out and ran in the teens almost immediately. They said wait till the summer. Tom Conway and Steve Torrence did just that. Debuting in May after the untimely and tragic death of Shelly Howard, right in the heat of summer when the A/Fuelers were supposed to be dead. All they did was win 5 of 6 national events and win 4 of 7, including a runner-up. At the event they lost in the first round- Joliet - which was in the middle of summer, they had the second quickest e.t. of the first round on an admittedly too-conservative tune-up. Additionally, they ran a 5.39 in the heat to qualify No. 1. Quite an amazing season. We could do a whole season re-cap but it really isn't necessary. Nearly across the board, the A/Fuelers have dominated quite handily, except when there has been altitude and heat involved. Indy was a good barometer. It wasn't dead of summer hot, but it wasn't cool either. Conway/Torrence, Snow and Olivarez were all in the mid .20's, and this year's quickest blown car, Hillary Will was in the mid .30's. Bottom line, there is a tenth or more disparity at 98%. There's two ways to fix that. Either slow the A/Fuelers down or speed the blown cars up. Given those options, I think 97% is the easiest fix. I don't like the fact that it once again causes the A/Fuelers to have to change again, but this is the 'knob' NHRA has chose to create parity in TAD. But, with that being said, the A/Fuel teams that are running good at 98% aren't far off from their 100% tune-ups, if you don't count the new cylinder heads. Those heads would have came out even at 100%. 97% will knock the edge off the A/Fuelers, and make Indy where Torrence, Snow and Olivarez are running mid to low .30's and Hillary Will is running mid to low .30's. I also think at some altitude tracks, they need to come up with a factor to give them back some at tracks like Vegas. On the other hand there is speeding the blown cars up. There are a couple of bolt ons that might help there. A panel of top blown and A/Fuel teams at Indy two years ago agreed to let the blown cars have the C blower and digital ignition control. The C Blower would be a huge step forward. I would also support this move. Another could be speeding up the blower they have - the D blower. It would take SFI raising the OD limit on a small cubic inch motor, but with current rev limiting technology, versus what was in place when those limits were placed, I think it would be an easy change. More CID? That goes back to the argument of CID vs Boost per CID. However, one tuner has noted that the current 451 or 463 cid engine may be on the verge of hydraulic lock given the current boost levels with the D blower. However, Santos sure ran good with that C Blower... What's the result of the proposed changes. At 97%, some tweaks to the fuel system and maybe some minor changes in the bell housing. C blower, re work fuel system, buy new gear ratios for trans, and possibly new rear gears. With bigger CID, you can build up to a 500 CID motor with a short deck, with heavy mods. Anything bigger, you need to go to a standard or tall deck. To do so will require new blocks, cranks, rods, pistons, fuel systems, gears, etc. Given the above, this is why I support going to 97% the most. Giving the blown cars the C blower is a close second, and as a last resort, I would rather see them give the blown cars CID and more OD rather than let things stay the same. Not to take anything away from the great season that Steve Federlin had, but if Conway and Torrence had run out west, or if any of the cars out there had the Conway tune-up, it might have been a different story. That's four years in a row the A/Fuelers have dominated national points. I would urge NHRA to let the TAD racers know in Pomona what their intentions are for 2006 so they can prepare over the offseason. What's your thoughts?