BRAINERD WINNER’S CIRCLE A FAMILIAR PLACE FOR COUNTDOWN CONTENDERS: As the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series prepares for its final stop of the regular season this weekend at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, many drivers are hoping to pick up last-minute points before the start of the Countdown to 1 playoffs. For many of the drivers currently occupying the Top 10 point standings in all four categories, a trip to Brainerd brings an added boost of confidence. The reason for that? Of those 40 drivers in the Top 10 in each class, 16 have at least one win at Brainerd International Raceway in their career. Those 40 drivers also account for a total of 40 wins at the Northern Minnesota track.
Seven of the Top 10 drivers in Top Fuel alone have at least one win at Brainerd. But what might be an even more convincing argument to the importance of this year’s Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals is how many of those winners in the Top 10 in each category also won the world championship within the same year. Of those 40 wins, 15 have come the same year the driver won the world championship.
Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson did it once (2003) as well as defending Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Hector Arana (2009). Defending Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher did it twice (2008, 2004), as well as Pro Stock driver Jeg Coughlin (2007, 2002). But the king of Brainerd is also the same driver who has amassed the most world championships in NHRA history and most wins at Brainerd International Raceway—Funny Car driver John Force.
Force has 11 career wins at Brainerd, with nine of those wins coming during championship years. Only two, his first in 1988 and his last in 2007, have come during seasons when Force didn’t win the world championship. Force enters the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in the top spot in the Funny Car point standings, as well as Arana in Pro Stock Motorcycle and two-time Brainerd winner (2001, 1999) Top Fuel driver Larry Dixon. Mike Edwards is the only points leader in all four categories that has not won an event in Brainerd.
Tickets can only be purchased at the event ticket office.
LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS, BRAINERD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, August 12–15: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to northern Minnesota for the final race of the Countdown to 10 regular season. Defending event winners include Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel); Tony Pedregon (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS PRESENTED BY LUCAS OIL, O’REILLY RACEWAY PARK AT INDIANAPOLIS, September 1–6: The famed Labor Day event at historic O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis is the first of six races in the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Ashley Force Hood (Funny Car); Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA NATIONALS, zMAX DRAGWAY, September 16–19: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its second stop of the season in North Carolina and second stop of the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners include Cory McClenathan (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); Mike Edwards (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
BRAINERD A HUGE STEPPING STONE TOWARDS CHAMPIONSHIP: NHRA Legend and Copart/Lucas Oil dragster team owner, Kenny Bernstein, discusses just how critical the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway is and has been a major stepping stone towards a world championship:
“Brainerd just always seems to be the race that comes at the time of year when our team is peaking performance-wise. It seemed we would do well at Brainerd and then keep up the strong performance until the end of the season. You always wanted to do well at Brainerd because that was the final preparation before Indy.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
5: That’s the number of Countdown to 1 playoff spots still open in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category. Drivers will have one last chance to clinch a spot in the Countdown to 1 this weekend at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that Top Fuel driver and former Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Antron Brown has the most wins at Brainerd International Raceway (4) in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category? Though he dominated the track on two wheels, Brown is still looking to get his first Top Fuel win at Brainerd International Raceway.