There was a lot on the line Sunday during the final race in the 6-weekend Bracket Drag Racing Series at Brainerd International Raceway. Four Wally trophies and big prize money was up for grabs, but most importantly, valuable series points toward a series championship were at stake.
Saturday’s race was rained out, so drivers had one last chance to chase points for the series championship. And drivers in four classes – Super Pro, Pro ET, Sportsman and Pro Bike/Sled – also had a shot at winning a Wally trophy, just like the kind the NHRA pros receive. Sunday’s race was the annual National Dragster Challenge, which is one of the rare opportunities for drivers in the Bracket Drag Racing Series to win a Wally.
Joe Schmall was one of the drivers who now has a Wally on his shelf. He outlasted 82 other drivers Sunday in the Super Pro Class, beating Glenn Gordon in the finals for the win and the Wally. Schmall had his 1969 Plymouth Fury dialed in, as he posted a 10.910-second run in the finals at 116.78 mph.
In the Pro ET Class, Travis Reutzel showed why he’s the driver to beat in that class. He won King of the Track honors earlier this season and now has a Wally trophy to go along with it. Mike Walcheski earned his way to the
finals but couldn’t get his car to the starting line. With 76 drivers in the class, Reutzel had to be the most consistent racer to survive seven rounds of eliminations, and he was. His ’67 Camaro ran a consistent 9.18 seconds and 145 mph all day.
Driving a 1997 Dodge Ram pickup, Grant Pesola didn’t have the flashiest race car Sunday but it was good enough to win the Sportsman Class and a Wally trophy. With 35 drivers in the class, Pesola racked up wins in five rounds then faced Brad Mickle in the finals. Mickle was a hair quicker off the starting line but Pesola got the big Dodge rolling down the track and won with a time of 12.719 seconds at 102.53 mph.
Kyle Lundberg only raced in three of the 10 series races in the Pro Bike/Sled Class, but he made those appearances count, and played the spoiler for those who aspired to take home the Wally. Lundberg has a semifinal loss and two finals wins, including one on Sunday. He and his Suzuki GSXR beat Cameron Belisle in the finals with a time of 8.977 seconds and 142.84 mph.
While some classes were chasing Wallys, the Stock/Super Stock drivers were slugging it out for big prize money as they competed in the North Star Fall Classic, sponsored by Midwest Class Racers. Forty drivers showed up, lured by a purse that ended up being $8,500. The biggest payday went to winner Brian Zenzen, who beat James Findell in the finals. Zenzen earned $2,000 while Findell took home $1,000. Findell handed Zenzen the win by fouling at the starting line.
In the other classes, Guy Stengel beat Darren Arnold in the Comp Trophy finals, and Nick Arnold won his fifth Street Trophy finals of the season by beating Samantha Loberg.
In Junior Dragsters, Erin Johnson entered the weekend in first place in Junior Dragster Advanced, and will stay there with a finals win over Jordan Pratt. Sarah Johnson beat Sydney Thompson in the finals of Junior Dragster Intermediate, and Cameron Beaulieu beat Ally Giese in the finals of the Junior Dragster Novice Class.
Below are the final two rounds in each class.
Finals: Joe Schmall of Lino Lakes def. Glenn Gordon of Walcott, N.D.
Semifinals: Schmall def. Mike Sonnek of Hutchinson; Gordon had a bye
Finals: Travis Reutzel of Eden Valley def. Mike Walcheski of Foley
Semifinals: Reutzel def. Jason Charlton of Grand Rapids: Walcheski had a bye
Finals: Grant Pesola of Duluth def. Brad Mickle of Lino Lakes
Semifinals: Pesola had a bye; Mickle def. Bob Gillespie
Finals: Brian Zenzen of St. Cloud def. James Findell of Zimmerman
Semifinals: Zenzen had a bye; Findell def. Lyn Johnson of Cloquet
Finals: Kyle Lundberg of Isanti def. Cameron Belisle of Hugo
Semifinals: Lundberg had a bye; Belisle def. Jason Clampitt of Lino Lakes
Finals: Guy Stengel of Blaine def. Darren Arnold of Eden Prairie
Semifinals: Stengel def. Angie Beck of Coon Rapids; Arnold had a bye
Finals: Nick Arnold of St. Louis Park def. Samantha Loberg of Pequot Lakes
Semifinals: Arnold def. Andi Pesola of Duluth; Loberg had a bye
JUNIOR DRAGSTER ADVANCED
Finals: Erin Johnson of Anoka def. Jordan Pratt of Otsego
Semifinals: Johnson def. McKenna Bungert of Lakeville; Pratt def. Zachary Zavadil of Clearwater
JUNIOR DRAGSTER INTERMEDIATE
Finals: Sarah Johnson of Nowthen def. Sydney Thompson of Anoka
Semifinals: Johnson def. Garrett Lindquist of Minnetonka; Thompson had a bye
JUNIOR DRAGSTER NOVICE
Finals: Cameron Beaulieu of Cambridge def. Ally Giese of Kandiyohi
Semifinals: Beaulieu def. Aaron Clampitt of Lino Lakes; Giese def. Sami Cielinski of Gilman