Re: Shock placement pros and cons
Shocks are going to offer the most control the closer to the end of the axle you can get them. But as you noted on drag cars with 14 to 17 inch wide tire tread widths (with even wider cross sections) there isn't a lot of room to attach the shocks at the end of the axle.
Your wheel and tire combination and the clearance they provide plus how you want to drive will determine placement. Keep in mind though a shock works best the closer to vertical you can get it; it will work up to sixty degrees off perpendicular to the axle. So depending upon suspension travel and wheel diameter the shock can me mounted a bit inside of the wheel and still work. (you may have to reinforce the shock mounts to account for side loading forces).
Just keep in mind that as you tilt the shock from vertical that trig is working against you; as the forces are a product of the angle made. So as they tilt the shock they apply less control, and the shocks valving has to change correspondingly (it could fall out side of the range the adjustment allows). This accounts for a lot of the shock placement you see with the mounting point closer to the housing.