August 9-12, 2007

Brainerd Minnesota

(results courtesy DRC and NHRA.com )

Eliminations

BRAINERD, Minn. --


John Force recorded his 125th Funny Car victory Sunday and secured a spot in the Countdown to the Championship by beating fellow legend Kenny Bernstein in the closest drag race of the 26th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. Force nipped Bernstein by .0048 seconds, or about two feet, with a 4.794-second pass at 316.60 mph to Bernstein's 4.801 at 320.43 mph.
Bernstein's son Brandon quickly brightened his father's mood by beating friendly rival Larry Dixon in the Top Fuel final, 4.525 to 4.586. In Pro Stock, Jeg Coughlin became just the 11th racer in 56 years of NHRA competition to score 50 national event wins when he beat Greg Anderson. An all-Harley Pro Stock Motorcycle final between teammates Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec favored Hines.

Force and Bernstein last faced each other in 1989 at the SuperNationals in Englishtown, N.J., an event that Bernstein went on to win for his last Funny Car victory. Bernstein now holds a 13-8 mark against Force, including a 6-2 record in final rounds. Force's career record improves to 125-74, while Bernstein's falls to 69-51.


"Austin Coil [crew chief] has run this track a lot more than me from the old days of match racing and he really knows this place, whether it's hot or cool here," said Force, who now has 11 wins at Brainerd. "This season has been something. Early on I couldn't beat anyone, including that girl named Force, and I remember awhile back telling Coil we were pathetic. Something just had us snake-bit and we never did find what it was.

"Heading into Bristol John Medlen got into me and said I needed to start being the leader of this team. Eric [Medlen's] gone and it was time to get up and do our job. It was hard to get up for the fight but then the car came around and we got on a roll.

"This race took me back to 1978 when Kenny Bernstein was the king and he beat me and I told myself that one day I'd beat him. But then he left the class and I never got my chance."

Force has raced to the final round in four of the last five races and has moved all the way up to fourth in the POWERade points.

Five more Funny Car racers gobbled up positions in the Countdown to the Championship including low qualifier Mike Ashley, "Fast Jack" Beckman, Force, Tony Pedregon, and Gary Scelzi. There are six racers mathematically alive for the one remaining position currently held by Jim Head, who has a comfortable 83-point edge over No. 9 Tommy Johnson Jr.


Dixon gave Brandon a run for the Top Fuel trophy with a quick launch that gave him an early lead of .029 seconds. The two were dead-even at half-track before Brandon managed to sneak in front and take the win with a 4.525 at 329.91 mph in his Budweiser dragster to Dixon's 4.586 at 323.35 mph in the SkyTel rail. Brandon's elapsed time was the quickest of the weekend.

This was Brandon's fifth win of the season -- a career high -- and the 17th of his career. He improved his head-to-head mark over Dixon to 14-5 overall, including a 2-0 record in final rounds. Dixon falls to 2-2 on the year and 40-35 in career final rounds.

"That's a great team over there and they were running 4.50s all day just like us so we knew the final would be a tough race," said Bernstein, who also won this race last year. "It's wonderful to see the Budweiser car running so consistently because Indy will be here before you know it and we really want to be as close to perfect as possible when the Countdown starts.

"It was tough watching Dad lose right in front of us. I could see the big screen and I saw how close he was at the finish line. I know he wanted that one really bad and for as much jubilation as we're feeling on our side of the pit we're bummed out for them. I really wanted to get done with our race and give him a hug because I could see he was down. It'll happen one of these days, hopefully for both of us at the same time."

Bob Vandergriff became the sixth Top Fuel racer to lock-up a spot in the Countdown to the Championship field, leaving just two slots left. There are seven drivers vying for those final two positions now held by Whit Bazemore and Dave Grubnic.


One race after Greg Anderson scored his 50th career national event win, Coughlin collected his 50th victory by beating Anderson in the Pro Stock final. Coughlin left nothing to doubt, leaving with a strong .018- to .047-second reaction time advantage and then creeping away to win with a 6.667 at 205.94 mph in his JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt to Anderson's 6.669 at 207.24 mph in the Summit Racing Pontiac GTO.

Coughlin's 50 career wins have come in both the Pro and Sportsman categories. He has 37 Pro Stock wins, including three this year, and 13 sportsman wins in four different classes: Super Stock (seven), Super Gas (four), Competition (one), and Top Dragster (one). Coughlin is just the 11th racer in history to win 50 national events.

"This was big," Coughlin said. "To get our 50th win against the competition we run these days is special. Today's a great example of how tough it is; I had Allen Johnson, who's fourth in the points, Jason Line who's fifth, the big cowboy, six-time champion Warren Johnson, and then the best driver in the class over the last four years in Greg Anderson.

"Getting to 50 wins was one of my goals when I returned to Pro Stock. It's special to think that only 10 other people have achieved that mark in 50-plus years of drag racing. Fortunately, I've had a great hot rod with [team owner] Victor Cagnazzi and his entire team of technicians and mechanics and they've given me a car capable of winning races."

There are still three positions left to be filled in the Pro Stock portion of the Countdown as no one managed to secure a spot this weekend. Kurt Johnson, Warren Johnson, and Larry Morgan currently hold the final three spots with Morgan 55 points ahead of ninth-place runner Vieri Gaines.


Three-time and reigning Pro Stock Motorcycle champ Hines got bragging rights over teammate Krawiec with his wire-to-wire job here. Hines left with a .034 to Krawiec's .091-second start and just rode away for his 11th career victory, winning with a 7.009 at 188.20 mph to Krawiec's 7.077 at 183.94 mph. Both men ride identical Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson V-Rods.

"It's always a great deal when you can run your teammate in the final," Hines said. "It doesn't matter who wins or loses because the team has already accomplished its goal. It's so tough to get one bike to the final round these days, let alone to get both of them there. It was a great day for the entire Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines team."

Moving up to second place with his win, Hines was the only rider to clinch a spot in the Countdown to the Championship this weekend, leaving five open spaces. Krawiec's second final-round appearance in as many races has lifted him from 12th to eighth place in the POWERade points.

Sunday's final results from the 26th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. The race is the 16th of 23 in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel -- Brandon Bernstein, 4.525 seconds, 329.91 mph def. Larry Dixon, 4.586 seconds, 323.35 mph.

Funny Car -- John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.794, 316.60 def. Kenny Bernstein, Dodge Charger, 4.801, 320.43.

Pro Stock -- Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Cobalt, 6.667, 205.94 def. Greg Anderson, Pontiac GTO, 6.669, 207.24.

Pro Stock Motorcycle -- Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.009, 188.20 def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.077, 183.94.

Top Alcohol Dragster -- Spencer Massey, 5.266, 276.13 def. Morgan Lucas, 5.376, 268.54.

Top Alcohol Funny Car -- Frank Manzo, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.530, 262.95 def. Steve Harker, Monte Carlo, 5.643, 257.28.

Competition Eliminator -- Dean Carter, Dragster, 7.065, 170.88 def. Frank Aragona, Altered, 8.387, 152.06.

Super Stock -- Kevin Borgstrom, Chevy Chevelle, 10.636, 119.98 def. Marcus Allen, Chevy Camaro, 10.645, 119.73.

Super Comp -- Jeff Cheney, Dragster, 8.912, 161.29 def. Thomas Bayer, Dragster, 8.908, 173.92.

Super Gas -- Ray Connolly, Chevy Corvette, 9.942, 149.93 def. Randy Nygaard, Chevy Cavalier, 9.884, 135.95.

Final qualifying

BRAINERD, Minn. --


Mike Ashley had the quickest Funny Car of all four qualifying sessions to easily secure the No. 1 position in the elimination field of the 26th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
Ashley's fifth career low qualifying effort was the most impressive on his resume as he lowered the bar in each of the first three rounds, finally stopping at 4.781 seconds. He later added a 4.812 to cement his position as the man to beat on Sunday.

Tony Schumacher also is off to great start at Brainerd International Raceway, moving to the front of the Top Fuel class with a 4.548 Saturday morning.

Friday Pro Stock leaders Jason Line and Chip Ellis both needed to pick up the pace Saturday to keep their top ranking. Line responded to the challenge with a 6.740, while Ellis posted the first six-second bike pass in track history to earn his first pole of the year.

Next in line to secure a position in the Countdown to the Championship, Ashley is leaving nothing to chance. His 4.781 at 327.51 mph in Round 3 came after several racers had passed his Friday night mark of 4.833. Unfazed, he cruised down the strip in his Torco Dodge Charger R/T to collect his second straight low qualifier award.

"Being the quickest and fastest of every session is pretty impressive," Ashley said. "The last few races we've been sidetracked a bit trying different things. We decided to go back to what got us to the dance in the first place and just make absolutely sure we get down the track every run."

Teammates John Force and Robert Hight, along with veteran Kenny Bernstein, also posted 4.7-second runs Saturday. Force earned second place on the grid with a 4.786 at 325.30 mph in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. Hight was third with a 4.796 at 322.58 mph in the Auto Club Ford, while Bernstein powered to a fourth-best 4.796 at 319.60 mph in the Monster Energy Drink Dodge.


Schumacher opened Saturday's action with a strong 4.548 at 328.54 mph in his U.S. Army dragster to take over the No. 1 spot. He ran a 4.624 in the afternoon even though he tossed the blower belt well before the finish line. This is Schumacher seventh Technicoat Low Qualifier award of the season and the 42nd of his career.

"We made three good runs, all in the heat, and we're racing in the heat tomorrow so I'm really happy right now," Schumacher said. "What can I say? Alan Johnson [crew chief] is the man. He's had this thing running strong and I have a lot of confidence in what we're doing right now."


In Pro Stock, Jason Line sent a strong signal to the rest of the class when he posted the quickest pass of the weekend in the last session, well after the morning cloud cover had cleared. Despite the increased temperatures, Line still coaxed a 6.740 at 204.66 mph out of his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO to earn his second low qualifier award of the season and the 13th of his career.

"If I could win anywhere it would be right here," Line said. "This is home for me. This is where it all started. It would mean more to me than Indy, to be honest. The trophies look the same and the points count the same, this is just a place where that core group of people that I grew up with all race. It's special."


In Pro Stock Motorcycle, rider Chip Ellis knew he needed to step it up Saturday to score his first low qualifier award of the year and he answered with the tracks first six-second Pro Stock Motorcycle pass, a 6.990 at 191.08 mph. The rider of the Drag Specialties S&S Buell V-Twin has eight career No. 1 qualifying efforts.

"We tried something this morning when it was still real cloudy because we figured that would be the best session of the weekend," Ellis said. "We improved to a 7.01 but overall it didn't really work the way we wanted, except for down low. So we took the stuff that worked and put it with the tune-up from yesterday and we got the 6.99. I'm really excited."

Peggy Llewellyn improved to a 7.031 at 188.57 mph on her Klement Racing Buell to lock up second place, the best start of her brief career.

Angelle Sampey and Karen Stoffer also earned to-half berths, placing three female riders on the preferred side of the ladder. Sampey's U.S. Army Suzuki posted a 7.042 at 188.67 mph, which placed her fourth, while Stoffer's Geico Motorcycle Suzuki went 7.112 to slot her

Friday qualifying

BRAINERD, Minn. --


Top Fuel points leader "Hot Rod" Fuller navigated a sweltering hot Brainerd International Raceway in 4.607 seconds Friday night to take the provisional qualifying lead at the 26th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
Running without the benefit of a title sponsor, Fuller still found a spot for his all-white dragster beside fellow low qualifiers Mike Ashley (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock), and Chip Ellis (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

All four low qualifiers had to beat out champions to earn top billing. Fuller passed Round 1 leader Tony Schumacher. Ashley fought pass John Force, who had passed him earlier in the second round, with a 4.833. Line knocked teammate Greg Anderson down two pegs with his 6.750, while Ellis showed early leader Angelle Sampey he means business with a 7.032.

Like most of his peers in Top Fuel, Fuller struggled to get down the track in the opening session. But once the sun got off the racetrack he was able to make his move, running a 4.607 at 324.83 mph to take the top spot. Fuller has been top qualifier three times this year.

"Our first run was a mistake on my part, to be honest," Fuller said. "They had the car set up soft because they wanted it to go down that hot racetrack. They slip the clutch to get it to do that but when I stepped on the gas it felt weird to me so I lifted.

"The second time it felt good all the way down the track, at least for a hot track, and I knew it was good when I pulled the chutes. I felt totally relieved because I wanted to make it up to my guys."

Larry Dixon jumped to second with a 4.617 at 298.34 mph in his SkyTel dragster. Fuller's David Powers Motorsports teammate Whit Bazemore followed in third with a 4.628 in his Matco Tools rail. Round 1 leader Schumacher dropped to 11th overall.


Ashley was quickest of both Friday sessions, opening with a 4.887 at 308.71 mph before improving to a 4.833 at 324.98 mph as the sunset over Gull Lake. Ashley was low qualifier at the last race in Sonoma, Calif., and has four top qualifying efforts this season in his Torco Dodge Charger R/T.

"It's definitely hot out there but I feel like we have a really good hot weather tune-up," Ashley said. "When we're not trying new things or breaking in new parts, our car is very consistent."

John Force ended up second with his 4.846 at 317.19 mph in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. His teammate Robert Hight was next with a 4.867 in the Auto Club Ford. Force's daughter Ashley is on the provisional DNQ list and needs a 5.248 or better to make the cut.


Line impressed with his second-round blast of 6.750 at 204.66 mph in his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO. The native of Wright, Minn., which is 70 miles east of BIR, has a crowded schedule this weekend as he works on his racecar and cheers on his father Lawrence Line and sister Stephanie Diekema, who are both racing in Super Stock.

"Both Greg [Anderson, teammate] and I are already in the Countdown to the Championship field so we're using these final two races before the first cutoff to test some things so we can be at full speed when the next phase starts," Line said. "I know I'm going to be working on my driving quite a bit. We're still looking for wins also."

Ron Krisher was the closest to Line with a 6.753 at 203.80 mph in his Valvoline Cobalt. Greg Anderson led the first session but dropped to third by day's end despite improving to a 6.769 at 204.63 mph in his GTO.


Ellis has qualified in the top half of the Pro Stock Motorcycle field at every event this year, but he's yet to earn low qualifier honors, a fact that might change after his class-leading 7.032 at 191.32 mph on Friday evening. Ellis' Drag Specialties S&S Buell V-Twin is being tuned by S&S Cycles owner George Smith this year, his first season as a tuner.

"This year has been a struggle to a certain extent," Ellis said. "But the entire team, including the guys at S&S, have been working so hard and I think we're gaining on it. This is a nice deal for them."

Reigning series champ Andrew Hines is second on his Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson V-Rod, a hundredth of a second back of Ellis with a 7.042 at 189.50 mph. Angelle Sampey is a distant third on the U.S. Army Suzuki with a 7.091.

Track facts

BRAINERD, Minn. --

The 26th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, the 16th of 23 events in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Professional competitors in four categories earn points leading to the 2007 NHRA POWERade Series world championships.
Sportsman competitors in six categories earn points leading to the 2007 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series world championships.

WHERE: Brainerd International Raceway and Resort, Brainerd, Minn. Track is located a few miles north of the Brainerd area off Highway 371. The track is located on the east side of the highway.

WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 9-12.

PURSE: Cash and contingency awards of more than $1.2 million.

SCHEDULE:
THURSDAY, Aug. 9 - Sportsman qualifying begins at 9 a.m.

FRIDAY, Aug. 10 - Sportsman qualifying begins at 9:15 a.m. PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 2:45 and 5:30 p.m.

SATURDAY, Aug. 11 - Sportsman qualifying begin at 9:15 a.m. PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 11:15 a.m. and 2 p.m.

SUNDAY, Aug. 12 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m. FINAL ELIMINATIONS begin at 11 a.m.

TELEVISION:
Sunday, Aug. 12, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 12:30 a.m. (ET).

Sunday, Aug. 12, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise NHRA Race Day, a 30-minute news magazine show, at 11 a.m. (ET).

Sunday, Aug. 12, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise three hours of eliminations at 7 p.m. (ET).

2006 EVENT WINNERS: Brandon Bernstein, Top Fuel; Tommy Johnson Jr., Funny Car; Dave Connolly, Pro Stock; Antron Brown, Pro Stock Motorcycle.

TRACK RECORDS:
Top Fuel - 4.446 sec. by Tony Schumacher, Aug. 2005; 337.58 mph by Schumacher, Aug. 2005
Funny Car - 4.730 sec. by Eric Medlen, Aug. 2005; 328.70 mph by Gary Scelzi, Aug. 2005
Pro Stock - 6.698 sec. by Warren Johnson, Aug. 2005; 206.57 mph by Warren Johnson, Aug. 2005
Pro Stock Motorcycle - 7.011 sec. by GT Tonglet, Aug. 2005; 196.82 mph by Andrew Hines, Aug. 2005


NATIONAL RECORDS:
Top Fuel - 4.428 sec. Nov. '06, Pomona, Calif. and 336.15 mph May '05, Columbus, Ohio by Tony Schumacher
Funny Car - 4.659 sec. Feb. '07, Chandler, Ariz. by Tony Pedregon; 333.66 mph Nov. 2006, Pomona, Calif. by Jack Beckman
Pro Stock - 6.536 sec. March '07, Gainesville, Fla. by Greg Anderson; 211.69 mph March '07, Gainesville, Fla. by Jason Line
Pro Stock Motorcycle - 6.871 sec. June '07, Englishtown, N.J. by Angelle Sampey; 197.45 mph March '05, Gainesville, Fla. by Andrew Hines


TICKETS: Order tickets by phone at (866) 444-4455. Tickets also are available online at http://www.brainerdraceway.com.

GENERAL ADMISSION (includes pit pass) - Thursday: Adult, $20; Child (6-12 years), $10. Friday: Adult, $40; Child (6-12 years), $20; Saturday: Adult, $55; Child (6-12 years), $27. Sunday: Adult, $55; Child (6-12 years), $27.

RESERVED SEATS (includes pit pass) - Thursday: Adult, $40; Child (6-12 years), $30. Friday: Adult, $65; Child (6-12 years), $45. Saturday: Adult, $80; Child (6-12 years), $52. Sunday: Adult, $85; Child (6-1212 years), $57.

Archives

2006 National events

Winterational's coverage is here (Pomona)
CSK National's coverage is here (Phoenix)
Gatornational's coverage is here (Gainesville)
O'Reilly National's coverage is here (Houston)
Summit National's coverage is here (Las Vegas)
Thunder Valley National's coverage is here (Bristol)
Southern National's coverage is here (Atlanta)
Pontiac Performance National's coverage is here (Columbus)
O'Reilly Summer National's coverage is here (Topeka)

CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals coverage is here (Chicago)
K&N Filters SuperNationals coverage is here (Englishtown)
O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals coverage is here (St.Louis)
Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals coverage is here (Denver)
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Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals coverage is here (Sonoma)
Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals coverage is here (Brainerd)
O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals coverage is here (Memphis)
Mac Tools U.S. Nationals coverage is here (Indy)
O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals coverage is here (Dallas)
Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals coverage is here (Reading)
Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals coverage is here (Virginia)
ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals coverage is here (Las Vegas)
Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals coverage is here (Pomona)

 

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