HANCOCK DEFENDS RECORD-SETTING RADIAL RUN
By the time the parachutes trailing behind his '68 Firebird collapsed on the shutdown lanes at Beech Bend Raceway Park, doubters and naysayers were already taking to the Interwebs to question and downplay Jamie Hancock's heroics.
In rounds three and four of Radials vs. the World qualifying for promoter Tyler Crossnoe's 6th annual Outlaw Street Car Reunion, the popular Alabama racer ran consecutive passes of 3.60 and 3.59 seconds, both representing the world's quickest elapsed times ever achieved by a nitrous-assisted doorslammer on the eighth-mile--regardless of tire choice--though for the record, Hancock was riding on radials.
That Hancock ran fast was no surprise. As the youngest-ever champion of a major, touring drag racing series (17 when he won the 2007 ADRL Pro Nitrous world title), a past winner of the No Mercy radial fest at South Georgia Motorsports Park, and a winner of many local and regional events on both slicks and radials, Hancock's drag racing pedigree is beyond reproach as he follows in the footsteps of his father and crew chief, James Hancock III.
Still, the .890 and .894 incremental times to 60 feet on both record runs Apr. 12, drew immediate disbelief from the always outspoken drag radial faithful. The car had to be dragging low through the starting beams, they said; there had to be something wrong with the clocks, they said; the starting-line rollout might be too long, they said. It didn't help, too, that the OSCR tech crew had already tossed a couple of runs from the left lane that just didn't add up.
And surprisingly, at first at least, Hancock might have agreed.
"When we ran that .60 in the left lane I told my dad, 'Let's not get too excited yet, because you don't know for sure whether it's right or not.' But then we move over to the right lane and do pretty much the same thing; I mean, to me it's gotta' be right," he said. "And then even the other cars, the Pro Mods, they're running their usual 60-foots in both lanes, their normal numbers, so there was that, too."
His dad was way ahead of him. James Hancock said he headed straight for the tower after watching 3.603 at 198.15 mph flash across the left lane scoreboard.
"We were definitely going after a number," James revealed later, "but I figured a .64, maybe a .63, so when that .60 came up I wanted to see the 60 foot as soon as possible. And when I got in the tower they all said, yeah, that's a good run, congratulations."
Still, Crossnoe and his tech team knew they had to check out the fire-breathing 'Bird's underbelly.
"The couple of instances we had yesterday where the numbers looked weird, our tech officials went and checked the cars and in both instances, the (engine containment) diapers were dragging and affecting the beams. Both of those drivers agreed with our tech inspection and recognized their data didn't support the run and both agreed to the runs being thrown out," Crossnoe said.
"Hancock's car was also checked. That car has a belly pan and he also has a diaper on the motor, and everything was contained inside both. Nothing was loose; nothing was low; he passed tech one-hundred percent.
"Jamie and them also opened up their computer, showed all of our technical team the data and their data matches the run. The numbers match the live feed and the finish-line camera, too. The runs stand up," he added.
Hancock said his car was outfitted with an engine diaper exactly as it appeared just last month in Georgia at Donald Long's Sweet 16 event, where Marcus Birt lowered the previous all-time nitrous doorslammer record to 3.608 seconds.
"The car is the exact same as it was at Sweet 16," Hancock said the morning after his record resetter. "Nothing on it has been changed as far as the way it's set up under there."
Regarding criticism of the facility in Bowling Green, KY, Crossnoe was adamant about its timing accuracy and integrity.
"I've bracket raced here for years. My dad and I used to come here when I was younger and even last year I came here and ran my car and I know the track is very legit and the timing system's legit," he stated.
Hancock understands his reaction times (approx. .120s at OSCR) have come under fire, too, as some suggest he's too good as a drag racer to be that "slow" on the tree.
"It's true that my reaction times were slow, but if you look back in qualifying you'll see that I usually have slow reaction times. At Sweet 16 you'd see I was slow in qualifying, too, but when I have to race someone I approach it differently.
"We'll see at the next race for sure. We're going to Huntsville in two weeks, but of course they'll probably say the same thing about us being there. I guess we're just looking for tracks with long rollouts so we can look like we can run fast," he added with a laugh.
Crossnoe confirmed he also checked Hancock's reaction times over the entire OSCR weekend and found they were consistent and well within reasonable expectations.
"I pulled his test runs, pulled all his qualifying runs, and all of his reaction times were within two hundredths this weekend. Jamie's an excellent driver and if he wanted to go up and push the tree that's what he'd do. But he was doing what any good driver in his situation would do," Crossnoe explained.
"If he's gonna' run a number, he's going to put that thing in as shallow as he can and get as much of a run at that scoreboard as possible. That's what he did and that's why he's running big numbers."
Despite suffering the slings and arrows of Internet criticism, Hancock said he understands the skepticism, understands the desire to hold him accountable, whether deservedly or not.
"I get it. I mean, an .89 60-foot is really fast. But we also went .91 at Sweet 16 in the heat of the day and the air was better on this pass, the track was better, the motor was better, everything was just better, so I don't think an .89 is impossible. I mean, it's hard to say anything is 100 percent, but I feel confident in what we did here."
Crossnoe was more definitive.
"There is no question the runs are legit," he concluded. "No question."