Grant Pesola finished the 2019 Bracket Drag Racing Series as one of the hottest drivers on the drag strip, and was rewarded Saturday with a win, a Wally and a series championship.
Pesola’s season ended after winning the Sportsman class in four of the last five races, dating back to late June. Saturday’s win was extra special as he ended what he called a “Wally drought.” The only other Wally he has won at Brainerd International Raceway was from 2013.
“That was a lot of fun,” he said of the race, the season and taking his hardware home to Nashwauk. “The truck was running well and it’s nice to have some luck on my side.”
Saturday’s race was the annual NHRA.tv Challenge, commonly called the Wally Race. All of the winners except for Stock/Super Stock won Wally trophies, which are replicas of those won by the stars of the NHRA. The three Junior Dragster class winners won them as well.
Driving his 1997 Dodge Ram pickup, Pesola burned through the 22-car Sportsman class, earning a finals matchup with Rory Emmans in his 1968 Caprice. Pesola had been benefiting from consistently good reaction times on the starting line all day, and the finals was no different. He beat Emmans off the line and beat him to the finish line, winning with a time of 12.289 seconds and 102.35 mph. He’s one of only 11 racers in the Bracket Drag Racing Series that will enter next season on a winning streak.
Sunday’s race was rained out, robbing a lot of drag racers – 263 cars were registered this weekend - from one last chance to rack up points as they chased a series championship. Although the drag strip was quiet, the road course was busy with the second of two endurance races during the 24 Hours of Lemons.
Back on the drag strip, Christopher Takacs blew up his engine early in the season and never felt like the new engine ran as well as he needed it to. But he got his 1973 Camaro dialed in when it mattered the most. On Saturday, he outlasted 79 other racers in the Super Pro class and lined up across from Chuck Roycraft in the finals. It was Takacs’ first finals appearance this season but he made the most of it, starting with a reaction time of .007 seconds and finishing with a near flawless run to win the race and the Wally. His winning time was 11.017 seconds at 119.27 mph.
“You have to have luck on your side,” Takacs said. “After this year, I believe in bad luck. I’d put up a good run but the other guy would put up a better run. It was kind of frustrating.”
Although he wasn’t winning his way to the finals each weekend, Takacs’ season was a lesson in consistency. He won a lot of rounds throughout the season, racking up enough points to finish in second place in Super Pro and fifth in Pro ET.
He admits that when you win your last seven rounds of the season and you get to drive 300 miles home to Thunder Bay, Ontario with a Wally trophy on the dash, the season isn’t a total bust. “I already can’t wait for next season,” he said.
Gary Olson is no stranger to winning. He has a mountain of trophies that he has won during BIR’s Muscle Car Series. In fact, he’s one of the winningest racers in that series. Now he’s got a Wally trophy to add to his collection.
Olson drove his 1971 Nova to a finals win in the Pro ET class, beating Jason Charlton with a 11.316-second pass at 117.70 mph. There were 73 racers in the Pro ET class.
Wyatt Niesen ran his 1989 Suzuki GSXR to a finals win in Pro Bike/Sled over Tevin Zavadil. Niesen’s winning time was 8.502 seconds at 123.81 mph, which was good enough for the win and a Wally trophy for his trophy case.
In Comp Trophy, Shaun Holmquist beat Paul Songas in the finals to win the class and a Wally. Driving a 1997 Corvette, Holmquist ran 13.330 seconds at 99.68 mph.
The Wally in Street Trophy went to Kyle Davis and his 2012 Ford Taurus. Davis beat Trevor Jelinski in the finals with a winning time of 15.395 seconds and 86.81 mph.
In Stock/Super Stock, Lance Line and Brian Zenzen advanced to the finals, but Line was a little antsy on the starting line and fouled, handing Zenzen the win.
Below are the finals results in each class: