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NHRA postpones elimination rounds; announces changes

The 2014 Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals is in the books for Brainerd International Raceway but Sunday’s rain-shortened elimination rounds ended with the decision to finish the races at other tracks in the coming weeks.

The only class that crowned a winner was Top Fuel Dragster, when Morgan Lucas beat Doug Kalitta in a spectacular final run, with Lucas taking the win in a fireball explosion across the finish. Unfortunately, the other classes had to be postponed because of darkness and rain.

BIR is responsible for many aspects of the event, including facilities operations, camping, live entertainment, security and ticket sales, but racing operations are run by the NHRA, which is ultimately responsible for decisions like those made Sunday.  “A Ron Capps vs. John Force Funny Car final here would have been epic!” BIR Owner Jed Copham said. “But there were a lot of factors involved in the NHRA’s decision and we hope race fans will understand that. We look forward to seeing everyone back again next year for more great NHRA racing!

“In an operation like ours, we can control a lot of things but the weather is not one of them, and Mother Nature wasn’t kind to us Sunday,” Copham added. “The good news, however, is that fans still saw some incredible racing Sunday. Many records were set, including the first 3-second Funny Car run at BIR, there was a wild Top Fuel finals and a bunch of really amazing racing throughout the day.”

The remaining races will be finished as follows:

FUNNY CAR – The Funny Car finals between John Force and Ron Capps will be completed during the second qualifying session Saturday at the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Aug. 27 to Sept. 1, at Indianapolis.

PRO STOCK – Pro Stock semifinals and finals with Jason Line, Dave Rivers, Vincent Nobile and Jeg Coughlin will be decided during Sunday’s two qualifying sessions at Indy.

TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER – The semifinal and final rounds for Top Alcohol Dragster will be completed at Indy as well and will feature a run-off between Tripp Tatum, Randy Meyer, Duane Shields and Bill Reichert.

TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR – The Top Alcohol Funny Car finals between Dale Brand and Scott McVey will take place during the Lucas Oil West Central Divisional race Sept. 5-7 at Tri-State Raceway in Earlville, Iowa.

SPORTSMAN – Super Stock, Stock and Super Comp will complete their eliminations rounds in Earlville, and Comp and Super Gas classes will complete their elimination rounds this weekend during the Lucas Oil West Central Divisional race at Heartland Park in Topeka, Kan.

BIR’s racing schedule continues this weekend with the Central Roadracing Association on the BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course for thrilling Superbike racing, while the Minnesota Street Rod Association tears up the drag strip! Daily admission is $20 and kids 12 and under are free.

Lucas wins Top Fuel, rain delays Funny Car, Pro Stock

Morgan Lucas raced to his third Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Top Fuel victory in spectacular fashion Sunday to close out the rain-drenched NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at Brainerd International Raceway.

Morgan Lucas won the Top Fuel finals.

Morgan Lucas won the Top Fuel finals.

The Funny Car final round between John Force and Ron Capps, along with the Pro Stock semifinals and final was postponed by NHRA officials due to darkness and inclement weather following a day filled with multiple rain delays. Racing in those categories will be completed during designated qualifying rounds at the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Aug. 27-Sept. 1 at Indianapolis.

Lucas was on and off the throttle of his 10,000-horsepower Lucas Oil/GEICO dragster as the engine erupted in flames when it crossed the finish line just in front of series points leader Doug Kalitta’s charging Mac Tools dragster. Both machines lost traction early in the thrilling side-by-side final round run, but Lucas was able to guide his machine to Lucas_Wally_Wvictory, the 10th of his career.

Lucas, who is running a limited schedule this season, won from the 12th qualifying position and outran Bob Vandergriff, Steve Torrence and Antron Brown en route to the final round. In his semifinal win over Brown, Lucas clocked a career-best elapsed time of 3.729 seconds.

“It’s fun,” Lucas said. “This is really what I was hoping it would be, just to come out here and have fun, and when you go rounds that is just the added value to it. I am just really lucky that Lucas Oil and GEICO support me. Racing guys like Doug (Kalitta) and Antron (Brown), they are number one and two in points, they are the best. To win this race again is just a really cool feeling.”

When the Funny Car final is held at Indianapolis during the second qualifying session on Saturday, Force will be racing in his fifth consecutive final round appearance of the season, and will once again be trying to defeat longtime rival Capps. Force, an 11-time Brainerd winner, advanced to the final by defeating Bob Bode, Del Worsham and Tommy Johnson Jr. Four-time BIR winner Capps reached the final with round wins over Jeff Arend, Jack Beckman and Alexis DeJoria. This is the third consecutive BIR final for Capps, who has won this race the last two seasons.

Although unofficial until completion of the event, Force took over the Funny Car points lead following his semifinal win over Tommy Johnson Jr. and leads Hight, who lost in the first round, by 18 points.

A new unofficial Pro Stock points leader also emerged in Brainerd as Jason Line raced to the semifinals in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro. When Pro Stock racing resumes at Indy, Line will face surprise semifinalist Dave River, who raced past Erica Enders-Stevens and Dave Connolly in the first two rounds. Vincent Nobile and Jeg Coughlin will decide the other Pro Stock semifinal. The Pro Stock semis and final will be contested during the two Sunday qualifying sessions at Indy.

Several drivers in Top Fuel and Funny Car secured their berths into the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship during the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. In Top Fuel, Spencer Massey, Steve Torrence, Brittany Force, Khalid alBalooshi and Richie Crampton earned playoff berths, while Ron Capps, Tommy Johnson Jr., Alexis DeJoria, Courtney Force and Matt Hagan all claimed Countdown playoff spots in Funny Car.

FINAL FINISH ORDER
Final finish order (1-16) at the 33rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.  The race is the 17th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

TOP FUEL
1.  Morgan Lucas; 2.  Doug Kalitta; 3.  Tony Schumacher; 4.  Antron Brown; 5.  Spencer Massey; 6. Shawn Langdon; 7.  Larry Dixon; 8.  Steve Torrence; 9.  Bob Vandergriff; 10.  Richie Crampton; 11.
Khalid alBalooshi; 12.  Terry McMillen; 13.  Leah Pritchett; 14.  Brittany Force; 15.  J.R. Todd; 16.  Chris Karamesines.

Sunday’s final results from the 33rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. The race is the 17th of 24 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel — Morgan Lucas, 4.886 seconds, 229.55 mph  def. Doug Kalitta, 4.987 seconds, 256.16 mph.

 ROUND BY ROUND
Final round-by-round results from the 33rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, the 17th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

TOP FUEL

ROUND ONE — Larry Dixon, 3.988, 316.97 def. Brittany Force, 6.252, 109.04; Spencer Massey, 3.781, 316.97 def. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.798, 315.56; Steve Torrence, 3.773, 323.43 def. Richie Crampton, 3.766, 328.54; Antron Brown, 3.804, 318.69 def. J.R. Todd, 6.750, 98.79; Doug Kalitta, 3.775, 324.51 def. Chris Karamesines, 9.574, 59.18; Shawn Langdon, 3.776, 321.04 def. Terry McMillen, 3.971, 288.21; Morgan Lucas, 3.780, 317.94 def. Bob Vandergriff, 3.760, 321.65; Tony Schumacher, 3.778, 324.51 def. Leah Pritchett, 5.260, 132.45;

QUARTERFINALS — Brown, 3.772, 293.86 def. Dixon, 3.910, 272.06; Schumacher, 3.763, 326.87 def. Langdon, 3.800, 305.22; Lucas, 3.794, 325.53 def. Torrence, 7.163, 106.55; Kalitta, 3.722, 326.16 def. Massey, 3.758, 327.51;

SEMIFINALS — Lucas, 3.729, 323.66 def. Brown, 3.770, 319.82; Kalitta, 3.752, 324.67 def. Schumacher, 3.743, 327.51;

FINAL — Lucas, 4.886, 229.55 def. Kalitta, 4.987, 256.16.

FUNNY CAR

ROUND ONE — John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.180, 316.45 def. Bob Bode, Toyota Camry, 6.079, 134.70; Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.112, 314.97 def. Jeff Arend, Charger, 4.245, 271.79; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.018, 318.99 def. Chad Head, Camry, 4.088, 315.93; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.097, 314.53 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 6.704, 100.90; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.010, 317.64 def. Courtney Force, Mustang, 8.958, 72.90; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.118, 305.63 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 5.237, 143.31; Del Worsham, Camry, 4.074, 314.17 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.934, 149.88; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.154, 302.08 def. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.138, 315.56;

QUARTERFINALS — Capps, 4.049, 317.79 def. Beckman, 4.046, 317.57; Johnson Jr., 4.121, 312.21 def. Tasca III, 7.655, 79.18; J. Force, 4.064, 320.89 def. Worsham, 4.948, 186.02; DeJoria, 3.998, 315.93 def. Hagan, 4.056, 318.77;

SEMIFINALS — J. Force, 4.021, 319.52 def. Johnson Jr., 4.203, 241.32; Capps, 4.073, 317.87 def. DeJoria, 5.096, 169.61;

FINAL to be concluded Aug. 30 at Indianapolis — J. Force vs. Capps

PRO STOCK

ROUND ONE — Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 7.721, 131.09 def. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, DQ; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.615, 207.72 def. V. Gaines, Dodge Dart, 6.623, 206.32; Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.604, 207.78 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 7.048, 148.30; Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.602, 208.42 def. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.674, 206.32; Deric Kramer, Dodge Avenger, 6.641, 206.73 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.574, 209.39; Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.601, 207.50 was unopposed; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.573, 209.69 def. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 7.159, 153.25; Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 7.507, 137.51 def. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 10.704, 83.19;

QUARTERFINALS — River, 6.715, 198.41 def. Connolly, 9.417, 100.02; Coughlin, 6.612, 207.88 def. Kramer, 6.748, 184.80; Nobile, 6.623, 207.98 def. Johnson, 6.693, 195.48; Line, 6.580, 209.30 def. S. Gray, 6.623, 207.46;

SEMIFINALS to be concluded Aug. 31 at Indianapolis — Nobile vs. Coughlin and Line vs. River

FINAL to be concluded Aug. 31 at Indianapolis — Nobile and Coughlin winner vs. Line and River winner

POINT STANDINGS
Point standings (top 10) following the 33rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, the 17th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series -

Top Fuel
1.  Doug Kalitta, 1,446*; 2.  Antron Brown, 1,354*; 3.  Shawn Langdon, 1,204*; 4.  Tony Schumacher, 1,075*; 5.  Steve Torrence, 971*; 6.  Spencer Massey, 953*; 7.  (tie) Khalid alBalooshi, 888*; Brittany Force, 888*; 9.  Richie Crampton, 841*; 10.  J.R. Todd, 805.

* Clinched berth in NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship

Sunday’s field is set with Brown, Force, Johnson No. 1

Top Fuel driver Antron Brown raced to his third No. 1 qualifying position of the season Saturday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

Antron Brown

Antron Brown

John Force (Funny Car) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) also will lead their categories into Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations at the penultimate race in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season. Pre-race ceremonies begin at 10 a.m.

Brown will try to score his sixth win of the season and continue to chase series leader Doug Kalitta when he faces J.R. Todd in the first round of eliminations. Brown, who won this race in 2011, took the 37th No. 1 of his career and his third Brainerd top qualifying effort with a performance of 3.810 seconds at 318.77 mph in his Matco Tools dragster.

“We were pushing to run better,” said Brown, who edged Kalitta for the top spot in a thrilling side-by-side pass to close

John Force

John Force

out Top Fuel qualifying. “The cloud cover came in, and we were trying to run quicker. My guys did an incredible job. We’ll take that No. 1. Those are three more bonus points for the run and a couple points for qualifying No. 1.”

With only two races remaining before the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship begins, Brown knows that he doesn’t have much time if he’s going to grab the top seed in the class for the playoffs.

“We’re going to focus on that tough first-round matchup with J.R. Todd,” Brown said. “It’s going to be a really good race. We’re going to go after it and take it one round at a time.”

Kalitta will start second in his Mac Tools dragster with his Friday leading run of 3.812 seconds at 322.96 mph and defending world champ Shawn Langdon qualified third in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster with 3.815 seconds at 321.27 mph.

Force powered to his fifth No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 151st of his career in Funny Car after an afternoon rain shower cooled off the track and set the stage for his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang to sprint to a weekend-best performance of 4.060 seconds at 315.27 mph. The 11-time Brainerd winner will face Bob Bode in the opening round.

“It cooled down and we knew everybody would step up,” said Force, who has advanced to the last four final rounds, winning twice. “We knew it was there. I told the TV camera I was going for No. 1. I have never said that in 30 years because it just don’t work that way. I have to start making a move now. I have to get this hot rod to where it will win and build the confidence in myself and all the kids around me. I laughed about it that I said it. It’s very simple, [crew chief] Jimmy Prock is on his game. That car makes big horsepower and he always swings for the fence.”

The brief rain delay helped to shake up the Funny Car ladder as four-time Brainerd winner Ron Capps moved to the second spot with a 4.064-second, 314.17-mph run in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger and his teammate Matt Hagan improved to third with a 4.068-second, 311.99-mph run in his Rocky Boots/Mopar Charger. Friday leader Robert Hight fell to fifth in his Auto Club Mustang with 4.081 seconds at 307.37 mph.

In Pro Stock, Johnson claimed his fifth No. 1 of the season and 36th of his career with his Friday run of 6.614 seconds at 207.98 mph in his Magneti Marelli/Team Mopar Dodge Dart. The Tennessee driver hopes to follow his first Brainerd top qualifying effort with his first win here. He was runner-up in 2012 in his only final round appearance at this event.

“I’ve had a great car all weekend and the new Dodge Dart really likes this surface at Brainerd,” Johnson said. “It’s our best start here at Brainerd. I think we’ve got a good game plan for tomorrow. That last run was pretty nice. Having a good shot at the track tomorrow (with the first round bye run) will pay dividends for us because we will be able to get after it a little more than we normally would if there was a car in the other lane, so that will tell us how far we can push it tomorrow.”

Minnesota native Jason Line made Saturday’s quickest run in his Summit Racing Chevy Camaro at 6.622 seconds and 207.91 mph to move to second overall and he will try to win his hometown race for the first time. Series leader Erica Enders-Stevens qualified third with a 6.630-second, 207.85-mph run in her Elite Motorsports Camaro and three-time BIR winner Greg Anderson qualified fourth in his Summit Racing Camaro with a 6.632 at 208.39.

* * *

Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the 33rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, the 17th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.
 
Top Fuel
1. Antron Brown, 3.810 seconds, 318.77 mph  vs. 16. J.R. Todd, 3.988, 268.06; 2. Doug Kalitta, 3.812, 322.96  vs. 15. Chris Karamesines, 3.945, 305.98; 3. Shawn Langdon, 3.815, 321.27 vs. 14. Terry McMillen, 3.906, 318.99; 4. Richie Crampton, 3.820, 320.97  vs. 13. Steve Torrence, 3.904, 303.16; 5. Bob Vandergriff, 3.835, 318.84  vs. 12. Morgan Lucas, 3.883, 286.98; 6. Tony Schumacher, 3.836, 323.43  vs. 11. Leah Pritchett, 3.872, 297.48; 7. Spencer Massey, 3.838, 320.28 vs. 10. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.860, 311.77; 8. Larry Dixon, 3.842, 320.13  vs. 9. Brittany Force, 3.845, 319.07. Did Not Qualify: 17. Clay Millican, 4.012, 294.75; 18. Luigi Novelli, 4.078, 250.88; 19. Tim Cullinan, 4.202, 215.10.

Funny Car
1. John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.060, 315.27  vs. 16. Bob Bode, Toyota Camry, 5.003, 235.19; 2. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.064, 314.17  vs. 15. Jeff Arend, Charger, 4.243, 278.00; 3. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.068, 311.99  vs. 14. Chad Head, Camry, 4.215, 301.33; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.078, 309.27  vs. 13. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.154, 304.53; 5. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.081, 313.29  vs. 12. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.151, 305.70; 6. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.082, 306.12  vs. 11. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.138, 310.27; 7. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.093, 308.21  vs. 10. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.115, 309.70; 8. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.110, 299.06  vs. 9. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.111, 307.44. Did Not Qualify: 17. Brian Stewart, 5.850, 273.50; 18. Dale Creasy Jr., 9.718, 290.76.

Pro Stock
1. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.614, 208.04  vs. Bye; 2. Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.622, 208.49  vs. 15. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.806, 203.00; 3. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.630, 207.85  vs. 14. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 6.793, 204.23; 4. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.632, 208.39  vs. 13. Deric Kramer, Dodge Avenger, 6.756, 205.04; 5. Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.636, 207.91 vs. 12. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.723, 206.32; 6. Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.643, 207.78  vs. 11. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.669, 207.43; 7. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.645, 207.82  vs. 10. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.669, 207.98; 8. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.654, 207.40  vs. 9. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.666, 207.75.

Catch Saturday and Sunday’s action on ESPN2

Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s eliminations will be televised on ESPN2 for those who can’t attend the event or want to watch all the action again – with instant replay.

Here’s the schedule:

Saturday, 10 p.m. – ESPN2 will televise two hours of Saturday’s qualifying sessions

Sunday, 8 p.m. – ESPN2 will televise three hours of Sunday’s elimination rounds

Tune in and enjoy all the action!

Hight, Kalitta, Johnson race to qualifying leads Friday

Funny Car points leader Robert Hight raced to the qualifying lead Friday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

Hight_Fri_WDoug Kalitta (Top Fuel) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) also were qualifying leaders at the penultimate event in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season.

After opening qualifying with a tire-smoking pass that dropped him to 17th position, Hight rebounded on the day’s second attempt and powered to the No. 1 position with a performance of 4.085 seconds at 313.29 mph in his 10,000-horsepower Auto Club Ford Mustang.

Hight was the first car out in the second session and says he was surprised that the elapsed time stayed at the top after the remaining cars made their runs.

“Given we messed up the first run to come out and go 4.08, it was pretty awesome,” Hight said. “It shows that [crew chief Mike] Neff has a great handle on this car and he can make it do what he wants. It was an unbelievable run and exactly what we needed to do.”

Hight is hoping to turn his fortunes around at Brainerd this weekend. The veteran driver has never won or earned a No. 1 qualifying position at the scenic Minnesota dragstrip. He says on the second run he was determined to keep his car in the groove.

“When you are not qualified you aren’t as amped up,” Hight said. “You are making sure you drive the car down the middle of the lane and give your team the best opportunity for a good run. That was my focus to keep it right down the middle and we did that.”

Cruz Pedregon qualified second with a 4.093 at 308.21 in his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry and 11-time Brainerd winner John Force was third with a 4.099 at 311.77 in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang.

Top Fuel points leader Kalitta earned the top spot with a 3.812 at 322.96 at the controls of his Mac Tools dragster. He is seeking his sixth No. 1 qualifying position of the season and fourth at Brainerd.

“It was cooling off and with the four cars behind us anything could’ve happened,” Kalitta said. “I was real happy with the run. It was nice and straight. On the first run it dropped a cylinder and smoked the tires so it wasn’t really going anywhere. My guys made the right changes and [crew chief] Jim [Oberhofer] is definitely on his game this year tuning this thing. I am real proud of him.”

Kalitta has two career wins in three final round appearances at Brainerd and is hoping to keep some recent momentum going at this event following his second victory of the season two weeks ago in Seattle.
“This is a great event for the Kalitta family,” said Kalitta, who won the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in 2005 and 2003. “We’ve had good luck up here over the years. It would be great to get a win on Sunday here.”

Defending world champ Shawn Langdon was second in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster with a 3.815 at 321.27. Rookie Richie Crampton was third in the GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster with a 3.827 at 320.97 and Antron Brown sits fourth in his Matco Tools dragster, also posting a 3.827 with a 316.38.

In Pro Stock, Johnson was quickest in his Magneti Marelli / Team Mopar Dodge Dart, covering the distance in 6.614 at 208.04.

“The conditions got a little dryer and that helps the Pro Stock cars so we absolutely murdered it in the first 330 feet on that run,” Johnson said. “Hats off to the team. They pulled that one off. I just pulled the levers and the parachute.”

With a successful Western Swing, Johnson moved to second in the points standings and entered this event only 32 markers back of the series leader, Erica Enders-Stevens.

“We’re in Countdown mode right now, trying to get every single point we can,” Johnson said. “The first run tomorrow could be the best conditions of the weekend for our class, so it will be close.”

Enders-Stevens, who sat out the last two races to prepare for the upcoming six-race NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs, qualified second with a 6.630-second, 207.69-mph run in her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro. Local favorite Greg Anderson, a native of Minnesota and three-time winner here, qualified third in his Summit Racing Camaro with 6.632 seconds at 208.26 mph.

Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at 1 and 3:30 p.m. to set the fields for Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations.

* * *

Friday’s results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 33rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, 17th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

Top Fuel — 1. Doug Kalitta, 3.812 seconds, 322.96 mph; 2. Shawn Langdon, 3.815, 321.27; 3. Richie Crampton, 3.827, 320.97; 4. Antron Brown, 3.827, 316.38; 5. Bob Vandergriff, 3.835, 318.84; 6. Tony Schumacher, 3.836, 323.43; 7. Larry Dixon, 3.842, 320.13; 8. Brittany Force, 3.845, 319.07; 9. Spencer Massey, 3.860, 317.34; 10. Morgan Lucas, 3.883, 286.98; 11. Terry McMillen, 3.906, 318.99; 12. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.914, 306.19.  Not Qualified: 13. Clay Millican, 3.987, 294.75; 14. Steve Torrence, 4.386, 186.00; 15. Chris Karamesines, 4.446, 193.99; 16. J.R. Todd, 4.718, 157.89; 17. Tim Cullinan, 5.063, 138.13; 18. Leah Pritchett, 5.542, 124.48; 19. Luigi Novelli, 12.368, 31.18.

Funny Car — 1. Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.085, 313.29; 2. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.093, 308.21; 3. John Force, Mustang, 4.099, 311.77; 4. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.110, 299.06; 5. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.138, 310.27; 6. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.138, 308.21; 7. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.151, 305.70; 8. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.154, 303.37; 9. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.157, 304.53; 10. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.162, 306.46; 11. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.198, 301.74; 12. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.203, 275.62.  Not Qualified: 13. Del Worsham, 4.235, 293.03; 14. Dale Creasy Jr., 4.237, 290.76; 15. Chad Head, 4.277, 238.98; 16. Brian Stewart, 4.369, 273.50; 17. Bob Bode, 4.395, 235.19; 18. Jeff Arend, 4.813, 166.83.

Pro Stock — 1. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.614, 208.04; 2. Erica Enders-Stevens, Chevy Camaro, 6.630, 207.69; 3. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.632, 208.26; 4. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.633, 208.39; 5. Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.636, 207.91; 6. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.645, 207.82; 7. Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.645, 207.78; 8. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.659, 207.40; 9. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.666, 207.75; 10. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.669, 207.98; 11. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.669, 207.43; 12. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.723, 206.32.  Not Qualified: 13. Deric Kramer, 6.788, 205.04; 14. Dave River, 6.790, 204.23; 15. Mark Hogan, 6.803, 201.79.

NHRA drivers make free appearances during Race Week

Fans who can’t attend the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Aug. 14-17 at Brainerd International Raceway still have a chance to meet some of their favorite NHRA drivers and participate in some of Race Week’s activities. Below is a list of driver appearances and other activities that are free and open to the public. Check this list often as we’ll be adding appearances to it as they become available.

JACK BECKMAN
Thursday, Aug. 14 from 5-6:30 pm at the Walmart Supercenter, 7295 Glory Road, Baxter
Meet Jack Beckman, the 2012 NHRA Funny Car world champion! He’ll be available for autographs and photos. Fans in attendance can register to win tickets to the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at BIR, try their hand at a drag racing simulator, mug it up in the photo booth and sample Mello Yello, which is the series sponsor.

BIG JIM DUNN
Thursday, Aug. 14 from 4:30-6:30 pm at Menards, 15236 Dellwood Drive, Baxter
Meet Big Jim Dunn and see the Grime Boss Funny Car! Big Jim will be available for autographs and photos. Stop by!

DAVE CONNOLLY
Thusday, Aug. 14 from 2:30-4:30 pm at Cub Foods, 14133 Edgewood Drive, Baxter
Thursday, Aug. 14 from 5-7 pm at Dondelinger’s, 6720 Pine Beach Road, Baxter
Pro Stock pilot Dave Connolly will be at two locations Thursday to sign autographs and meet fans. There will be food, prizes and a drag racing simulator that fans can try.

NHRA AT WALMART STORES
The NHRA and Mello Yello will be at the following stores with an NHRA drag racing simulator and a photo booth. It’s free and open to the public. Get information on the NHRA Nationals this weekend at BIR and enjoy some Mello Yello sampling.
Little Falls Walmart – Friday, Aug. 15 from 2:30-7 p.m.
Sartell Walmart – Saturday, Aug. 16 from 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

JOHN FORCE, COURTNEY FORCE, BRITTNEY FORCE, BOB TASCA
Friday, Aug. 15 from 11:30 am-12:30 pm at Mills Ford in Baxter
Meet 16-time world champion Funny Car driver John Force and his two daughters, Courtney and Brittney, along with Funny Car driver and teammate Bob Tasca.

ANTRON BROWN
Thursday, Aug. 14 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at Keller Lake Regional Park in Maplewood
Meet 2012 Top Fuel Champion Antron Brown during Matco Tools’ Customer Appreciation Days. Get Antron’s autograph and buy a raffle ticket for the chance to win great prizes, including tickets to the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. Proceeds benefit Infinite Hero Foundation.

 

Millican looks for first win at Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals

First-win possibilities has Top Fueler Clay Millican still thinking Countdown

Clay Millican knows where he sits in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Top Fuel points standings. He is also aware it will take an incredible run in the next two races to move from his current 12th position into the top 10 and qualify for the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.

Millican_WIn order to complete a magical run over the next two races, Millican would also capture something that has long eluded him in his NHRA career: his first Top Fuel win. That is motivation enough for Millican, who takes a must-win approach into the upcoming 33rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, which takes place at Brainerd International Raceway, Aug. 14-17.

“I’m sort of taking on that Al Davis mindset of ‘Just win, baby,’” Millican said, “The car has had its ups and downs, but we’re working real hard on it and I’m confident. We just need to go out there and turn on the win lights. All I’m thinking about is just winning. We may have dug ourselves too big of a hole (for the Countdown), but we just have to win. That will make everything that much better.”

Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of the event that will once again be televised nationally on ESPN2. The race also serves as the 17th of 24 races during the 2014 season and is the penultimate stop in the regular season before the upcoming Countdown to the Championship.

Millican trails J.R. Todd, who is currently in 10th, by 151 points, which means a lot would have to go Millican’s way to earn a playoff berth. But the always upbeat Millican is more focused on continuing to improve his 10,000-horsepower Parts Plus dragster.

The Parts Plus team, owned and tuned by Dexter Tuttle, came together right before the start of the 2014 season, and it has been an uphill battle to find consistency in an ultra-competitive Top Fuel class. Millican and his team, headed by crew chief Jimmy Walsh, has qualified at every event but a rigorous workload hasn’t hampered the team’s ability to make major strides.

“We just haven’t been able to get caught up,” Millican said. “It’s nobody’s fault and everyone has worked incredibly hard. We’ve made a lot of improvements and I feel like we’re getting a lot closer. We had five consecutive runs under power in Seattle and that’s what we like to see. I’m not happy with where we’re at in the points, but I am happy with our team.”

Millican fell in the first round at Seattle to defending Top Fuel world champion Shawn Langdon, but he remains impressed with how far the team has come in a short time. Despite not qualifying better than 12th at any event this season, Millican has advanced to two semifinals and has recorded seven round wins.

The next obvious step is making a late charge, even if that means not qualifying for the Countdown, and racking up round wins and possibly a first NHRA victory.

“My mindset is to keep getting the car to go down the track consistently and under power, and everything else will take care of itself,” Millican said. “We’ve been holding our own and we just have to keep moving forward.”

Doing so is difficult in Top Fuel, which includes a full field of marquee challengers. Leading the way is points leader Doug Kalitta, who won the most recent event in Seattle, while others include Massey, Tony Schumacher, who leads active Top Fuel drivers with three wins at Brainerd, Antron Brown, Brittany Force, Richie Crampton, J.R. Todd, Khalid alBalooshi, and category veteran Steve Torrence.

But Millican can simply look back to last year for motivation when it comes to racing at Brainerd. He qualified No. 1 and advanced to the final round before losing a memorable matchup to Massey in the championship round.

Millican also enjoys the impressive energy and atmosphere from the Brainerd fans, something he hopes to feed on again this year en route to another positive showing at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.

“I love going to race in Brainerd and it’s always a lot of fun,” Millican said. “Last year was an awesome, awesome weekend. We qualified No. 1 and went to the final and ran real well against Spencer, so it was a big weekend all the way around. I love the fans there and that makes it more fun. It’s like one big group outing.”

In Funny Car, Capps took home the victory in Brainerd a year ago, marking his fourth win at the track. But no one owns Brainerd like 16-time and reigning world champion John Force, who has 11 wins at the facility. Both will be challenged from an ultra-competitive Funny Car class that also features Tommy Johnson Jr., points leader Robert Hight, 1992 Brainerd winner Cruz Pedregon, Matt Hagan, Courtney Force, Tim Wilkerson, Del Worsham, and two-time season winner Alexis DeJoria.

Reigning Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin has four wins in Brainerd and has two wins this season. Native Minnesotan Greg Anderson moved to 10th in points with his runner-up finish in Seattle and his fourth Brainerd victory could solidify his position in the championship mix. Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens, who has four wins this season, has one career victory at the track while other top contenders are Allen Johnson, Dave Connolly, Jason Line, Vincent Nobile, Shane Gray, Jonathan Gray, V Gaines and Chris McGaha.

As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and enjoy some cherished face time and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.

Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.

The event will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.

Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, Aug. 15, with sessions at 3 and 5:30 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, Aug. 16, at 1 and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 17.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call Brainerd International Raceway at (866) 444-4455 or visit www.brainerdraceway.com.

DeForrest wins drag racing Classic, ChumpCars return

Last weekend’s inaugural Paul Bunyan Classic at Brainerd International Raceway was intended to attract a large field of Stock/Super Stock drag racers by offering up a guaranteed purse of $4,000 ($2,000 to the winner) both Saturday and Sunday.

Jason DeForrest (third from left) and his winning crew.

Jason DeForrest (third from left) and his winning crew.

Dangling that kind of money seemed to work as 59 drag racers showed up at BIR for a shot at pocketing some cash. The only hitch in the race, which was presented by Midwest Class Racers, came about Sunday when rain washed out the race.

Saturday’s race, which was during BIR’s Bracket Drag Racing Series event, was won by Jason DeForrest and his ’87 Camaro, who beat Glen DeMenge in the finals to pocket $2,000. DeMenge took home $1,000.

Saturday’s racing included all 10 classes in the Bracket Drag Racing Series, which has only one weekend left (Sept. 27-28), so competition is heating up and the points standings are getting tight.

Jeff Korol won Super Pro.

Jeff Korol won Super Pro.

Last weekend’s event also included the annual ChumpCar World Series on BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course. The Chumps showed up in force to compete in a pair of seven-hour endurance races. ChumpCars are $500 junkers that are raced by teams of four drivers, some of whom wrench on their cars as much as they drive them. The winner is the team that completes the most laps in seven hours.

Saturday’s field featured 38 teams, most of which had amusing names like Perpetual Adolescents Racing, 365 Racing Tuna No Crust, and Still Chumps. But it was Chump Faces that had the last laugh by completing 207 laps for the win. Three laps behind and in second place was Ambitious

Dale Hildreth got a beer shower in the Winner's Circle after winning Pro ET.

Dale Hildreth got a beer shower in the Winner’s Circle after winning Pro ET.

But Rubbish Racing, which nudged out Tubby Butterman Racing, which finished a lap later in third place.

Sunday’s field fell to 32 cars as six cars couldn’t make the start. Chump Faces finished strong again, but couldn’t catch British American Racing, which completed 138 laps for the win. Chump Faces was among three cars that finished two laps behind the winner and within six seconds of each other. The Most Interesting Chumps In The World finished second, three seconds ahead of Chump Faces and six seconds ahead of MKR.

Back on the drag strip, Gary Loeffelholz slipped into first place in the Super Pro points standings with a runner-up finish to Jeff Korol. Loeffelholz has a slim lead over Mike Campbell and then Randy McFarland and Dave Engler.

Gary Loeffelholz’s son, Reno, is in second place in the Pro ET standings, nipping at the heels of leader Shane Boney. Dale Hildreth beat Joe Schmall in the Pro ET finals Saturday.

In the Sportsman Class, Brad Mickle beat Mandy Anderson in the finals. They’re both still in the hunt, with Anderson in fifth place with a small lead over sixth-place Mickle. Bob Gillespie continues to hold off Rory Emmans for the points lead.

Below are the finals for all the classes. Click here to view the points standings for each class.

 

SATURDAY

Super Pro
Finals: Jeff Korol of Davenport, N.D. def. Gary Loeffelholz of Shafer

Pro ET
Finals: Dale Hildreth of River Falls, Wis. def. Joe Schmall of Lino Lakes

Sportsman
Finals: Brad Mickle of Lino Lakes def. Mandy Anderson of Sartell

Stock/Super Stock
Finals: Jason DeForrest of Andover def. Glen DeMenge of McGregor

Pro Bike/Sled
Finals: Cameron Belisle of Hugo def. Jason Clampitt of Lino Lakes

Comp Trophy
Finals: Mike Larson of Baxter def. Chuck Hoppe

Street Trophy
Finals: Tyler Gadacz of Little Falls def. Tracy Arneson of Pillager

Junior Dragster Advanced
Finals: Abby Haben of Hibbing def. Amanda Young

Junior Dragster Intermediate
Finals: Sydney Haben of Hibbing def. Billy Anderson

Junior Dragster Novice
Finals: Alex Clampitt of Lino Lakes def. Riley Luberda of Foley

ChumpCars return this weekend, with Bracket Drag Racing

Start with $500 junkers, add teams of four drivers and then send them off on Brainerd International Raceway’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course for a seven-hour endurance race, and you’ve got the ChumpCar World Series.

Chump12The Chumps return to BIR this weekend for a Dual Event Weekend with the Bracket Drag Racing Series, which features the Paul Bunyan Classic for the Stock/Super Stock class. Racers will be gunning for a piece of two $4,000 purse, so fans can expect to see big car counts and great racing action.

BIR has become a regular stop for the ChumpCar World Series, which features cars worth $500 or less and teams of four drivers. The teams are on the track for seven-hour endurance races on Saturday and Sunday, with the team that completes the most laps being crowned “Chump Champ” each day.

Reno Loeffelholz is the driver to beat in Pro ET.

Reno Loeffelholz is the driver to beat in Pro ET.

Check out the creative themes each of the teams come up with, including, in most cases, clever paint jobs and team names.

The races start at 9 a.m. both days and end at 4 p.m. An awards ceremony is scheduled for 5 p.m. Sunday.

On the drag strip, drivers will be battling for series points as the end of the season nears. This is the fifth weekend race for the six-weekend series, so points will be at a premium in all 10 classes. Expect to see more than 250 dragsters, cars, trucks, bikes, snowmobiles and Junior Dragsters compete, with eliminations and class winners announced both Saturday and Sunday.

Time trials and qualifying start at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, followed by elimination rounds.

Sponsored by Line Performance, the Paul Bunyan Classic is presented by Midwest Class Racers. There’s a $4,000 guaranteed purse Saturday and Sunday, with both winners taking home $2,000 each. Runners-up win $1,000 each.

Daily admission is $20 and tickets can be purchased at the gate. Kids 12 and under are free. Camping is free as well, with the purchase of a multi-day ticket.

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