An NHRA spokesperson confirmed on Friday the sanctioning body is planning to go in a different direction with its chief starter personnel. As of now, it appears Mike Gittings, who is the fourth full-time starter (Buster Couch, Rick Stewart, and Mark Lyle) in NHRA, could be the final one.
“NHRA is going in a new direction regarding the structure and role of the starter position,” Jessica Hatch, NHRA’s spokesperson said in a prepared statement delivered to CompetitionPlus.com.
Sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CompetitionPlus.com that the NHRA plans to employ regional and divisional starters for 2019.
What remains to be seen is how the move will affect such challenging assignments as four-wide competition and track prep, both roles Gittings were intricately involved with.
Two-time NHRA series champion Matt Hagan said at the end of the day; the racers will just have to adjust.
“Everybody adapts to everything whether it is a rule change of anything that happens within our division,” Hagan said. “The only thing that would have been nice is to know that there’s the same guy up there every time that you can go talk to who is making those decisions to turn you off or shut you down or whatever it may be, track prep and all of that other stuff. In this area, consistency is key. At the end of the day, we will have to adapt.”
NHRA also distributed a letter to the fuel teams on Friday, January 18, 2019, indicating there will now be qualifying money paid to No. 19 and No. 20 qualifiers. The year-end prize money will also increase by $51,000, with finishers No. 4 through No. 10 getting the raise.
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019