The ESPN scroll along the top of a television screen this year uses a "whiter shade of pale (green)," as Procol Harum sings, to highlight the drivers now locked into 2012's Countdown to the Championship. The quickly-moving lime snippets are easily identifiable and allow one to note, for example, that in both Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycles quarterfinals, each of the eight pairings had a qualified and non-qualified driver.
Who would have thought a little red in the other lane would have turned the winner of a quarterfinals Pro Stock pair redder still, but that is exactly what happened when an act of perceived incivility from Erica Enders melted four-time Full Throttle champion Greg Anderson's veneer of cool.
And that was after he just won a mini-staging duel over the first woman to ever win a Wally in the class ... with him in the other lane of that historic moment to start July.
Now this ends the month.
By a smidgen Enders' GK Motorsports Chevrolet tripped the red light, handing Anderson's Summit Camaro a plum, an automatic win, appearing on paper to have been a real gift.
Her elapsed time bettered his. Anderson's .044-second reaction time, though on the green side of things, was beatable.
For his winning interview Anderson lit right into her, bitter like an unripe lime.
"Sorry for her luck; I did think she did some things that were unprofessional," Anderson said, leaving no doubt to a viewer he was referencing their earlier moment in history.
It appears that moment is continuing to expand like Macy's Thanksgiving Day balloons ...
Give reporter Gary Gerould credit, as he asked a flushed Anderson to 'fess up to what was eating at him, but to no avail. Gerould did hot-foot it over to Enders who displayed an ice-in-her-veins response with, "I'm respectful ... I think they're great." No darkness from her.
The cameras catch the two, still at the top-end, talking. Viewers were sitting on the edge of the chair dying to hear what was being said; ESPN didn't disappoint as a microphone was quietly thrust near them.
The audio caught a few words like Enders noting, "... more than a month ago (referring to her victory at Chicago July 1) ... wrong time (today) to say something" about whatever is troubling him. She, like viewers, seemed flummoxed as to the source of his irritation.
Incivility in the workplace is a hot topic: 96 percent of employees claim to have experienced it; 80 percent believe they get no respect at work.
The difference here is whatever the reason and whether the slight is real or perceived, the tensions at high speed makes for intriguing television drama better than any Keeping up with the Kardashians episode.
ESPN's broadcast is more fun because of it, even though these two drivers in their privacy must be twisting like untended grape vines.
Seattle's residents can only hope snow-capped Mount Rainier, the heaviest glaciated peak in the lower 48 peering over the next event in the Western Swing, doesn't thaw from the heat of this quarrel.
Fans will fantasize Zeus of brackets has them face-off first round; let's get to it. Better still, first pair!
Imagine Erica's "Eyes of the Tiger," as Allen Johnson claims she has, meeting Anderson's tiger claws next time.
Contrast this with a friendly team-rivalry at the same moment. Anderson's teammate, Jason Line, playfully "kicks" Johnson's Dodge as it pulls to a stop while on television, knowing they were paired against one another in the semifinals.
Why not crave an Anderson/Enders pairing in the Seattle finals? No, save those spots because there are two drivers still in the hunt for a sweep of the Western Swing: Antron Brown and his Matco Tools Top Fuel entry, along with Johnson's Pro Stock Mopar Avenger.
Anticipating the excitement of finals with a sweep in the balance and just possibly the chance to have double-sweepers is part of the fun of the sport. Or as ESPN's Paul Page noted, "The broom is what it's all about."
The Western Swing should be added to that short-list card of career accomplishments a driver needs to punch when considering their status as elite: Winning a Full Throttle championship, winning Indy, winning the class all-star race, and, now, winning the Western Swing.
Meanwhile, Pro Stock Motorcycles have the clash of the titans, the Aranas' Lucas Oil Buells battling the Vance & Hines Harleys driven by Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines. Krawiec called it this week, "The Hectors and the Harleys," the class's version of "The Hatfields and the McCoys."
When three team members stage the Buells wearing peasant garb ("Peasant" is stenciled on them for good measure), a moment of drama is exposed. And fun television, too ... but as Statman, Lewis Bloom, so well-described, the winner today was the Harley's "V-Rod domination."
Brandon Bernstein appeared on the way for his first win for his MAVTV dragster with its "happy setup," as he called it, when the pesky left lane struck yet again. Viewers were alert to its perils as announcer Mike Dunn colored the lane "not taking it."
Better yet, Clay Millican claimed with his Parts Plus dragster, he was "driving it like a dirt car" in a wild opener against Morgan Lucas' GEICO racer.
Then fan-favorite Gary Densham shows with his self-sponsored Dodge and promptly "throws a monkey-wrench into everything," he says, outlasting favored Ron Capp's NAPA Dodge in the opening round.
The "Weekend Wows" segment gets more vivid as Matt Hartford's American Ethanol Dodge, flaming out the sides, won't cut off in the shutdown zone.
Next, the Chevrolet of Dale Creasy melts its red shell as the jammed-throttle dragster crashes in qualifying with orange blazing. The human spirit of drag racing is exemplified as teams pitch in to help and parts to get them to the starting launch.
Finally there was the rarity, a timing problem, indicating Kurt Johnson's Christopher Auto Center Pontiac left way-late, yet video showed he moved only after the lap's winner, Vincent Nobile's Purple-Haze-colored Dodge. The problem was plumbed from all angles, but as Johnson rosily admitted, it was "just not our day." Not as rosily he added, "screwed again."
But it was a day to discover the nitro dragsters' 8,000 horsepower — is nothing sacred anymore? — may have power well into five-digits. An ESPN Sports Science expert rated the horsepower to 10,000.
The best estimate came from crew chief Jim Oberhofer, with the Kalittas for nearly 30 years: "Conrad's probably makes 12,000 because ... he is Connie Kalitta."
The real prize of the day, though, was received by the winners of the event: a special silver Wally denoting the 25th anniversary of Sonoma racing, shimmering a reflection to that first race in 1988 then called the California Nationals. Harry Scribner's Camaro won in Pro Stock that memorable day, his only national event win.
The next time a Camaro won an NHRA event was a decade later. Who drove, you ask? Kurt Johnson.
Connect with Phillip: