- Bill Stephens
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As Christmas 2006 approaches the finish line and the Christmas tree (you know, the other Christmas tree) shines brightly above the many, many colorfully wrapped gifts we'll both be giving and receiving to celebrate the holiday, what might some of our favorite NHRA POWERade stars be wishing for this year?
We only can guess. Sure, there might be a neon necktie or a pair of fuzzy slippers waiting to be discovered Christmas morning, but if you use your imagination, you probably can picture the following list of Christmas goodies being most appropriate for the lucky (or unlucky) drag racers we think are most deserving.
Doug Kalitta: Fifteen more points to his 2006 Top Fuel total, which would have earned him his first career championship. Or another shot at Melanie Troxel in Round 2 of the last race.
Tony Schumacher: A lifetime contract from his crew chief Alan Johnson that will guarantee he will never tune for anyone else. Signed and sworn to in the presence of NHRA's resident pastor, Ken Owen.
John Force: Five minutes of absolutely nothing to do. Yeah, you're right. That's too far-fetched.
Ron Capps: A second-half of the '06 season to match the first. And two free tickets for him and Whit Bazemore to see "Rocky Balboa."
Don Schumacher: An assistant to keep track of how many teams, cars, drivers, crew chiefs, and crew members he either currently owns, no longer owns, won't sell, has sold or wants to sell.
Don "The Snake" Prudhomme: A new sponsor for his Top Fuel team, another sponsor for a second Funny Car to give him a better shot at the championship, and however much money it will take for him to reveal how he's avoided gaining a single pound in 30 years.
Kenny Bernstein: A wall plaque bearing the quote from legendary major league pitcher Satchel Paige who said, "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you was?" Rock on, KB.
Mike Dunn: A big "thank you" for his expertise, insight, and candor on the NHRA's television coverage. It's all about passion, Mikey, and you're never afraid to show yours.
Erica Enders: A real chance to show how talented she is and what an important part of the NHRA's future popularity she represents. She's a star waiting to shine and when she finally does, look out.
Kurt Johnson and Ron Krisher: Some extra padding on their roll cages after the ugly spills they each took during the '06 season.
Chief starter Rick Stewart: A big sign that says, "SHUT IT OFF NOW!!!" No further explanation needed.
Tom Hammonds: A big sign that says, "Welcome back!" One of the classiest and well-liked Pro Stock racers ever is coming back to the NHRA in 2007 -- hopefully for good.
Jerry Toliver, Dean Skuza, and Rhonda Hartman-Smith: "Welcome back" signs of their own if they can find a deal and come back to the sport that misses them.
Wally Parks: Our unfading love and respect. At 93, you're still a man among men, Mr. Parks.
Every NHRA drag racing fan who eats, drinks and breathes the world's quickest motorsport: A Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and a short offseason!
Bill Stephens covers NHRA for ESPN.com.
Doug Kalitta could use 15 more points. John Force could use a little time off. What else does resident Santa Bill Stephens have in his bag of goodies for the NHRA?