NHRA: BIR ready to host Lucas Oil Nationals
The fastest motorsport on Earth, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, returns to Brainerd International Raceway, Aug. 14-17, for the 17th race of the 2014 season at the 33rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
The best in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock will all compete for coveted Wally trophies at the historic race track in central Minnesota. 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 on ESPN2.
Brainerd International Raceway has been host to some of the world's best drag racers for 32 years and will continue that in 2014. The multi-purpose motorsports complex just north of Minneapolis has been host to some of the most exciting NHRA action on the circuit.
The Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals comes at a crucial time for drivers in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series as they are focused on making the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Brainerd is the penultimate stop in the regular season, so teams will be competing at their maximum levels as they try to secure one of the 10 coveted spots in each category.
Massey grabbed the Top Fuel Wally last season and will be looking to repeat. Massey, driver of the Battery Extender powered by Schumacher Electric dragster, has two wins this season and is in good shape heading to the Countdown.
Massey's Don Schumacher Racing teammate, Tony Schumacher, leads active Top Fuel drivers with three wins at Brainerd and his U.S. Army dragster is on a roll with two wins in 2014. Series leader Doug Kalitta and his Mac Tools dragster team are dialed in and will come to Brainerd seeking a third victory at the facility.
Red-hot Antron Brown has five victories this season and his Matco Tools dragster appears poised to challenge Kalitta for the 2014 title. Shawn Langdon, the reigning Top Fuel world champ, raced to his first win of the year at Bristol and will be looking for more success at Brainerd. Others to watch in the Top Fuel field include reigning Auto Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award winner Brittany Force, Englishtown winner Richie Crampton, rising star J.R. Todd and category veteran Steve Torrence.
In Funny Car, Capps took home the victory in Brainerd last season and he wasn't able to secure his next win until a few weeks ago in Epping. Capps, driver of the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger, has four wins at Brainerd and a fifth could go a long way toward his chase for an elusive first world championship title.
No one owns Brainerd like 16-time world champion John Force. Force and his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang team have claimed 11 wins at the facility and is in the thick of the playoff hunt in 2014. Force won the season-opening event in Pomona and recently grabbed his second win of the season in Norwalk, Ohio and moved to second in the points standings.
Tony Pedregon has had a dismal 2014 start, but he can be confident knowing he has two wins at the Minnesota track. Tommy Johnson Jr. has returned to Funny Car full-time and will be looking to replicate his Brainerd success, having won there in 2006. Series leader Robert Hight, 1992 Brainerd winner Cruz Pedregon, Chicago winner Matt Hagan, Topeka winner Courtney Force and two-time season winner Alexis DeJoria are a few of the other Funny Car competitors who are expected to challenge for the victory.
With Edwards putting his racing career on hold following the 2013 season, the 2014 Pro Stock event is wide open. Reigning world champion Jeg Coughlin has four wins in Brainerd, leading all active Pro Stock drivers. Coughlin has driven his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Dart to two wins this season and he is a major contender for a sixth championship.
Native Minnesotan Greg Anderson missed the first five races of the season following heart surgery, but is back on the Pro Stock circuit. He currently sits 11th in points and could use a win to qualify for the playoffs and launch himself into championship contention. While he will hope to have his victory long before the circuit hits Minnesota, the driver of the Summit Racing Chevy Camaro has three career victories at Brainerd International Raceway.
Recent Epping winner Dave Connolly has two Brainerd wins while Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens, who has four wins this season, has one career victory at the track. Two-time season winner Allen Johnson, Chicago winner Vincent Nobile, Shane Gray, two-time runner-up Jonathan Gray and Chris McGaha are just a few of the drivers who will be looking for their first Brainerd victory in the 200-mph factory hot rod class.
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.
The event will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Aug. 15, with sessions at 3 and 5:30 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Aug. 16, at 1 and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday Aug. 17.