Msg 2 Posted: 10:02 AM 08/15/06 (CST)
I'll give you my full report ,but not now. I'm still catching up on the other threads.|
This is how it is and what happened on the track. I'll put up more of what went on after racing.
click this link to see the videos of the finals. Great fire!!!http://www.nhra.com/2006/events/race16/video/
By The Brainerd Dispatch
The Brainerd Daily Dispatch
Racing fans may head to the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway to watch their favorite drivers burn some rubber, but BIR is well-known in drag racing circles as one of the best tracks for making friends and having a great time.Racing fans may head to the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway to watch their favorite drivers burn some rubber, but BIR is well-known in drag racing circles as one of the best tracks for making friends and having a great time.
Forget the lake cabin or DisneyWorld. Fred Williams' idea of the perfect vacation is parking his camper underneath his favorite tree near Turn 6 in the family camping area at BIR during the NHRA Nationals. Williams, of south Minneapolis, has been coming to BIR for the past 21 years. He and his wife, Nancy, have been married six years. This is her ninth trip to BIR for this event.
"I love it," said Nancy Williams of coming to BIR. "I have so much fun up here. We wouldn't miss this."
The Williamses are such regulars where they camp that they said they've become good friends with the 30-plus other campers who call that area home during Nationals week. The drivers themselves often stop by this area to hang out with their fans on Friday and Saturday nights, which the Williamses enjoy. Their red cooler is signed by NHRA drivers Joe Amatto and Doug Herbert. Fred made ESPN last year, grilling a 19-pound turkey and lobster tails for his wife and friends at their campsite.
They said they have made lifelong friends at BIR.
"This is my big activity of the year," said Fred Williams.
There are no animals in "The Zoo" at BIR, but if you're lucky you may find NHRA drivers and their pit crews hanging out, playing pool and listening to music there. A group of about 50 people from Wisconsin make the trek across the Minnesota border to BIR, setting up the largest party campsite that continues to grow each year. It's a place where racing fans may meet their favorite driver, or get to know the more than 1,500 people who go to "The Zoo" campsite each night during the races to party.
"The Zoo" has two outdoor pool tables, a 72-inch television, satellite, couches, love seats and a massive sound system with 12 speakers tuned to satellite radio. A large trailer used to haul some of the equipment, including one of the pool tables, blew three tires on the trip here. By the time the races begin, there will be more than 15 campers and trailers set up around "The Zoo," mostly all friends from Wisconsin.
"We don't mess around," Jim Balzer, of Appleton, Wis., said with a laugh.
Gordon Timm Jr., Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., said he and his friends have gone to NHRA drag races in Las Vegas, Chicago and other tracks, but BIR is the best experience for drag racing fans because drivers and their crews seem to enjoy hanging out with the fans here.
Drivers like Ron Capps, Don "The Snake" Prudhomme, Gary Scelzi and Brandon Bernstein - to name drop only a few - have hung out at "The Zoo," along with many pit crew members from most of the other drivers who have raced at BIR.
Timm said there are nights when "The Zoo" is so crowded that people are standing shoulder to shoulder with one another around the campfire.
"Virtually every person in the campground comes out here at night," said Timm. "When people come here they know they may meet a driver or the pit crew."
"It's something you can't describe with words it's so fun," said Balzer. "We almost feel like rock stars up here because we know so many people."
Last year Forrest Lucas, president and chief executive officer of Lucas Oil Products, hung out at "The Zoo," the men said.
"This is my No. 1 choice of vacation," said Timm. "I will quit my job if they wouldn't let me come here."
The best way to get around BIR during Nationals is by all-terrain vehicles, golf carts, mopeds and other motorized smaller vehicles. Some campers create unusual rides just for BIR, like Mike Kaiser, St. Paul, who took a Simplicity lawnmower, cut it down by 19 inches and remade it into a motorized chair, complete with a six-speed tranny, a steering wheel from a dragster, an electric start, a drink holder, an NHRA ice cooler, radio with speakers and more, including wheelie bars in the back and a dragster parachute folded in a pouch on back, just for show. Kaiser said he's been coming up to BIR for the races for more than 20 years and he wanted to create something unique to ride around the campsite. He and his buddies were talking about creating a talking John Force head, but chose to make the motorized chair instead.
BIR typically hosts about 30,000 campers during Nationals who camp in the rustic, family camping and full-service family camping sites. The full-service family camping site has a five-year waiting list, a BIR staff member said.
Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals
Bernstein, T.J., Connolly, Brown take victories at Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals
By Rob Geiger, NHRA.com
Brandon Bernstein upset three-time series champion Tony Schumacher Sunday in the Top Fuel final of the 25th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals for his third victory of the season. Bernstein's 4.510-second pass at 329.34 mph dismissed the hottest driver on the NHRA tour, who smoked his tires a few hundred feet down Brainerd Int'l Raceway.
Funny Car driver Tommy Johnson Jr. defeated reigning series champion Gary Scelzi, who also lost traction during his final-round run. In Pro Stock, Dave Connolly stole one away from current points leader Jason Line on a four-hundredths holeshot, winning with a slower 6.74 to Line's 6.73. Antron Brown took the POWERade points lead in Pro Stock Motorcycle by winning his 16th final, this one over Steve Johnson.
Bernstein shook off a forgettable Western Swing, during which he failed to win a single round, with a stunning victory here. Schumacher was heavily favored entering the final after qualifying No. 1 and running a pair of 4.4s on the way to the money round, but Bernstein and crew chiefs Tim and Kim Richards stuck to their game plan of getting the Budweiser dragster down the track every pass, and it paid off with the 4.510, 329.34, well ahead of Schumacher's tire-smoker.
"When Tim gets on a roll on race day, he's so tough," said Bernstein, who is now 116 points out of the lead. "He just likes to get the car to repeat, and maybe he'll give it a little more where he can. We knew we needed to run something in the final against Schumacher because he'd been running so well this weekend. I figured we'd have a low 4.50, and that's what we did.
"I never saw him or heard him. We all know that in this sport anything can happen. We threw the belt down there, and I didn't know for a second if he'd go around us. I guess he was in trouble early, from what I heard, so it worked out for us.
"We made up some serious ground in the points today. I really believe we have a car that can contend for the title. There are still seven races left. If we stay consistent like this, anything can happen."
Doug Kalitta's lead in the POWERade Top Fuel points was only trimmed by one point this weekend. The difference is that Kalitta's closest rival is now Schumacher, who made up 45 points on Kalitta and trails by just 81 markers.
With his fifth straight final-round appearance, Schumacher moved into a tie with his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Melanie Troxel, who led the standings for the first 12 races of the year. Six races ago, Schumacher was in eighth place and 336 points off the pace.
Tommy Johnson Jr.
Johnson saved his best pass of the event for the Funny Car final, running a 4.741 at 321.73 mph in his Skoal Chevrolet Monte Carlo to take the win and set low e.t. of the meet. Scelzi got a small jump at the lights but was soon battling tire shake and smoke and could only watch as T.J. zipped away for the win.
This was Johnson's second win of the year and eighth of his career. His slowest pass of the day was a 4.785. Scelzi drops to 33-21 lifetime in Funny Car and Top Fuel combined.
"I saw sprinkles on the windshield when I was backing up from the burnout, and I stepped on it because I was so ready to race I wanted to get it done," said Johnson, whose victory gave him his first multiple-win season since 1999. "This win is a credit to the crew. It was a long wait and then we had 65-minute rounds, so it was a thrash. Before the semis, we tried to start the car and nothing happened. They changed the entire ignition system in minutes.
"This win started in Q1. We've struggled in qualifying in the first round, and that's what sets the tone for the weekend. Here we were able to run good in Q1 and then go for it Friday night. We were qualified third then, so we were able to experiment with stuff Saturday. It definitely helped today.
"Scelzi is always tough, but I liked our chances. He's been a thorn in my side at times, so I didn't want to be too confident. Then Mike [Green, crew chief] throws low e.t. of the meet up there. That was cool."
For the second race in a row, Funny Car leader Ron Capps suffered minimal damage after losing in the first round when second-place points earner John Force once again lost in the quarterfinals. Capps now leads the 13-time champ by 48 points.
Connolly's reputation as a starting-line expert definitely paid off Sunday as he spooked three-time series champion Greg Anderson into a foul start in the Pro Stock semifinals and then blistered Line with a sizable .013 to .052 starting-line advantage to score a holeshot victory by three-hundredths of a second, 6.743, 204.17 to 6.737, 205.22.
"Luck was going our way today," Connolly said. "With Greg going red and then Jason maybe thinking about it too much, I guess anytime you can get in a driver's head a little bit always helps. They still have the cars to beat, but we're staying with them the best we can.
"We finally put four good runs together today. I figured I needed to get two- or three-hundredths to have a chance in the final, and I got four. This is big for me because it's my fourth win of the year, and I've never won that many races in a single season since I've been Pro."
The class-leading fourth win makes Connolly 4-2 for the year and 9-10 for his career when there's a trophy on the line. Line dropped to 3-2 this season and 11-9 overall.
Line's third final-round showing in the last four races helped him increase his lead in the Pro Stock points from 64 to 83 over his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO teammate Anderson. Connolly remains in third, 108 points behind Line.
After a Pro Stock Motorcycle runner-up finish at the last event in Sonoma, Calif., Brown made sure he took care of business here with a 7.108 to 7.159 win over 20-year veteran Johnson. The victory shuffled the top of the POWERade standings and moved Brown from an afterthought to the new leader.
Brown's fourth Brainerd victory lifted his final-round record to 2-2 for the year and 16-16 lifetime. He held the points lead earlier this year after the Atlanta race, where he last won.
"I just wanted to get my head out of my butt this weekend," Brown said. "Believe it or not, I really felt sorry for Andrew [Hines] when he red-lighted in the first round because I've done it five times this year, and I felt his pain. I got a couple of red-light wins today, so that definitely helped my cause.
"The only bummer of the day was my teammate [Angelle Sampey] winning her race and then getting thrown out because she was light. I think the rain screwed up the scales because we were all getting different readings. She just came up short.
"I'm really proud of Steve Tartaglia, my crew chief. It's just his second year as a crew chief, and he's hanging with all the big boys. Any one of the top four bikes can win the title this year. It's going to be exciting."
Brown's U.S. Army teammate Sampey was disqualified after her first-round win over Ryan Schnitz when she was found to be five pounds light at the scales, which dropped her from second to fourth in the points. Brown moved from fourth to first and leads Hines by 15 points. Chip Ellis is third, 45 points behind Brown.
IF IT'S WET...IT'S CATCH'N FISH