Story By: NHRA – BRAINERD, MN – A week after getting a back-to-back win at a track, Funny Car standout Bob Tasca III will try to accomplish that again at this weekend’s 41st annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
Tasca accomplished the feat last weekend in Topeka and heading into annual race at the fan-favorite facility in Brainerd, the veteran Funny Car driver enters the weekend as the defending event winner in his 11,000-horsepower Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang. He’s also fifth in points and eager to make another make a big move with the Countdown to the Championship approaching.
The race in Brainerd is the penultimate race of the regular season and with another big showing, Tasca could head into Indy third in points. With his car throwing down the quickest Funny Car run in Topeka last weekend – a statement run of 3.885-seconds in the final round – Tasca and his team, led by crew chiefs Aaron Brooks and Todd Okuhara, head to Brainerd with plenty of momentum and confidence they can run stellar numbers in any condition or situation.
“I’m just so proud of the effort they’ve put in,” Tasca said. “There’s an incredible amount of effort that goes into winning one of these races and Todd and Aaron are tremendous leaders. They’re just leading by example and you’re seeing how this car can run. Hot track or cold track, it goes up and down the track. I just can’t wait to see what we can do. I truly believe the best is yet to come for this team. I’m excited. The chemistry I have with Todd and Aaron and the guys is really special, and the race car is showing it. You’ve got a car like this, I can’t wait to get to Brainerd fast enough.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel) and Tasca III (Funny Car) won in 2022 and this year’s event will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) and the FOX broadcast network, including eliminations coverage starting at 4 p.m. ET on FOX on Sunday, Aug. 20. It is the 14th of 21 races during the 2023 season and Tasca is again a threat and has firmly placed himself among the Funny Car elite.
Last year, he left Brainerd fourth in points, but wasn’t able to make a big move in the Countdown to the Championship, finishing fourth on the season. Tasca is ready for more this year, confident his team will be capable of big runs when it counts and as cooler conditions return.
But that means continuing to build and perform at races like Brainerd, where Tasca enjoyed a memorable performance a year ago. He’s also in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge bonus race on Saturday, taking on Robert Hight in a semifinal rematch from Topeka. Points leader Matt Hagan and J.R. Todd meet in the other matchup, with all four competitors having the chance for a double-up weekend in Brainerd.
Beyond that, Tasca will also have to contend with the likes of Ron Capps, John Force, Cruz Pedregon, Tim Wilkerson, who has two wins this year, Alexis DeJoria and Chad Green, but he’s thrilled with the continuous improvement his team has made in 2023.
“This team, there’s a different attitude from anything I’ve been around,” Tasca said. “All year long, we’ve been one of the quickest qualifying cars. Hot track, cold tracks and anything in-between, we can go up and run low E.T. My goal going into Brainerd and Indy, and then leaving Indy is to be in the top five. If you do that, you’ve got a good chance to win the championship. This car can go into any race and win, and I don’t know if I’ve ever been able to say that before.”
Torrence, a four-time Top Fuel world champ, won for the second straight year in Brainerd in 2022, looking to become just the second Top Fuel driver in NHRA history to win three straight times at the historic track. But everyone is chasing points leader Justin Ashley, who has six wins this season and is seeking his first Brainerd triumph. It’s also a loaded class that features a host of star drivers like defending world champ Brittany Force, Leah Pruett, a two-time Brainerd winner, Clay Millican and Antron Brown.
Making its long-awaited return to Brainerd International Raceway is Pro Stock and all the standouts in the category, including Duluth native and five-time world champion Greg Anderson. A three-time Brainerd winner, Anderson will look for his first win at the track since 2011 and also his first win in 2023. Standing in his way is a host of talented drivers, including KB Titan teammate and points leader Dallas Glenn, defending world champ Erica Enders, Troy Coughlin Jr., Aaron Stanfield and Matt Hartford, Cristian Cuadra.
The event also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, as well as action in the FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by Type A Motorsports. On the Pro Mod side, the event in Brainerd marks the first race in the category’s “Road to the Championship” playoffs, with Justin Bond taking the points lead into the first-year playoff format for the class.
After nitro qualifying, fans can enjoy a thrilling show from “NitroMike” and his “Walking Tall” P.T. Cruiser Wheelstander, as well as action from the snowmobile category. There will also be autograph sessions throughout the weekend, along with a cacklefests.
Fans are invited to the Nitro Alley Stage all weekend, which will help create a festive atmosphere leading into Nitro Alley. The Nitro Alley Stage will be the main entertainment hub in the pits when the Camping World Drag Racing Series competitors are not on the track, hosting Nitro School, meet and greets and much more. As always, fans get a pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. Fans can see their favorite teams in action and servicing their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers, and more. They can also visit NHRA’s Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting atmosphere that includes interactive displays, merchandise, food, and fun.
Race fans at Brainerd can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals event winners.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 2:45 and 6 p.m. CT on Friday, Aug. 18 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Aug. 19 at 12:45 and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. CT on Sunday, Aug. 20. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 8 p.m. ET on Friday, 1:00 p.m. on Sunday on FS1, and then eliminations on FOX at 4 p.m. ET Sunday.
PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES OPENS ROAD TO CHAMPIONSHIP IN BRAINERD
Back in action for the first time in nearly two months, the FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by Type A Motorsports is set to return in a major way, with the first race in the category’s new Road to the Championship kicking off this weekend at Brainerd International Raceway.
The FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by Type A Motorsports will race as part of this weekend’s 41st annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals and there is more on the line than ever as the Pro Mod class incorporates its playoff-style competition for the first time.
The Road to the Championship opens this weekend in Brainerd as the first of four playoff races for the series, making this a pivotal weekend at BIR.
It is the seventh of 10 races during the 2023 season and this weekend’s action in Brainerd is powered by Stinar. The class will also be featured during Sunday’s broadcast on the FOX broadcast network, kicking off its Road to the Championship in front of a huge audience.
Justin Bond, who was terrific in the regular season en route to three wins, starts the Pro Mod postseason as the points leader with reigning world champion Kris Thorne, who won in Bristol, 20 points back. Jose Gonzalez, the 2021 world champ, is five points behind Thorne, with a five-point gap also separating the final 11 drivers – Jason Lee, Mike Castellana, J.R. Gray, Kevin Rivenbark, Sidnei Frigo, Manny Buginga, Dymtry Samorukov, Mike Thielen, Stan Shelton, Khalid AlBalooshi and Doug Winters.
Stinar, which is located in Minnesota, is a longtime sponsor for Winters, who opens the Road to the Championship in 14th but can make a huge move this weekend in Denver. He’s also one of an impressive 19 entries as part of this weekend’s race in Brainerd, by far the biggest turnout for the fan-favorite class at the popular facility since Pro Mod made its debut at Brainerd International Raceway in 2021.
“We are very excited to sponsor the NHRA Pro Mod Series in our own backyard!” Stinar Owner/CEO/CVO Craig Kruckeberg said. “We always enjoy sponsoring this race and the Winters Team and we’re happy to be a part of the excitement it brings to Brainerd.”
With only five points separating each standout from spots 2-14, the weekend in Brainerd will be a pivotal one as drivers look to get in championship contention. Gonzalez won the first FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by Type A Motorsports race at Brainerd a year ago, while 18 other standouts will look to win at the famed Brainerd International Raceway for the first time.
Featuring the world’s fastest doorslammer race cars, the FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by Type A Motorsports offers something unique and exciting for every drag racing fan. The class continues to grow in popularity and is highlighted by historic muscle cars and a variety of late-model American muscle cars, as well as a number of different power adders.
FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by Type A Motorsports qualifying will feature one rounds at 5:35 p.m. CT on Friday, Aug. 18 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Aug. 19 at 12 and 2:45 p.m. The first round of eliminations begin at 9:30 a.m. CT on Sunday, Aug. 20.
To purchase tickets to the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, fans can call 866-444-4455. For more information on the NHRA, please visit www.nhra.com.
FUELTECH NHRA PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES PRESENTED BY TYPE A MOTORSPORTS STANDINGS ENTERING ROAD TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP:
(Brainerd is the first of four playoff races)
1. Justin Bond 800 points
2. Kris Thorne 780 points
3. Jose Gonzalez 775 points
4. Jason Lee 770 points
5. Mike Castellana 765 points
6. J.R. Gray 760 points
7. Kevin Rivenbark 755 points
8. Sidnei Frigo 750 points
9. Manny Buginga 745 points
10. Dymtry Samorukov 740 points
11. Mike Thielen 735 points
12. Stan Shelton 730 points
13. Khalid AlBalooshi 725 points
14. Doug Winters 720 points