It was nice to have a weekend off after the Western Swing. I know our race teams enjoyed it and a few of our guys even spent the off weekend at a drag strip at the Night Under Fire match race in Norwalk.
I spent the weekend at home in Chicago and even got to go to the Taylor Swift concert and a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. After the refresher, I was ready to get to Brainerd and take in a weekend of NHRA racing.
Brainerd International Raceway is one of the most unique races on circuit. There is a campground next to the track that is referred to as “the Zoo.” It’s sort of a Mardi Gras meets NHRA where people decorate floats and their camp site. They go all out enjoying their week at the races at B.I.R. I know the crew guys and many of the drivers enjoy people watching at “the Zoo” after qualifying
On Friday, we saw some good runs from our DSR cars. After two sessions, Matt Hagan led the DSR team by earning the provisional pole, running a 4.044-second pass on Friday’s second lap. Matt and that Dickie Venables-led team continue to do great. Our three other DSR floppers followed suit, all qualifying in the top ten after Friday. It’s comforting when all of our cars are in the field after day one.
In Top Fuel, Spencer missed the top spot after Clay Millican ran a great 3.773-second run right next to the Battery Extender team’s 3.792. You can’t complain about qualifying second and Clay has been running great with that Bob Vandergriff team all season long.
Saturday’s qualifying provided lots of surprises. We saw Jack Beckman take his brand new DSR chassis to the top spot in Funny Car qualifying, running a 4.038. It was a very impressive run from Jack and Todd Smith. It was warmer and sunny, so to see someone run that quick was very impressive. Jack’s pole position in Brainerd, the 9th of his career, was the 10th No. 1 spot of the season for the seven DSR cars.
During the first session of Funny Car qualifying on Saturday, Ron and the NAPA team blew the body off of the car after a top end, high-speed explosion in the lights. It was a scary moment, but thankfully Ron was okay and walked away. With lots of hard work and help from their DSR teammates, the NAPA team was back on the track in less than two hours for the second qualifying session.
During the warm-ups on Sunday, I went around to some of our pits making an Instagram video. If you don’t follow me already, make sure to check me out on Instagram. I post lots of videos of our guys hard at work on race weekends, find me at @MeganFessSchu.
Spencer and the Battery Extender kicked off race day for DSR as fourth pair of the first round and finally scored his first win light at B.I.R. in spectacular fashion. The Battery Extender car exploded in the lights, but the important thing was the win light in Spencer’s lane.
Tony and the U.S. Army team earned their first round win over Brandon Bernstein. Unfortunately Antron was the lone DSR team to not make it past the first round, losing to Doug Kalitta, another tough break for our Matco Tools team.
Our four Funny Cars were able to get first round wins, all making great runs. We were happy to have six of our seven teams advancing. Jack won his 225th round win of his career in the first round. A nice milestone number.
In the second round, Tony and Spencer met up, with Spencer turning on the win light in a great side by side race with the U.S. Army car. We saw another DSR match-up in Funny Car with Jack running Ron, with the NAPA team turning on the win light. That meant three DSR Funny Cars in the semifinals with Ron, Matt and Johnny.
Kicking off the semis was a great race between Spencer and Khalid alBalooshi, our Battery Extender team got the win leading them to their fifth final round of the season. Clay Millican beat the other Al-Anabi car setting up a final round match between the Nos. 1 and 2 qualifiers.
In Funny Car, Ron beat Tim Wilkerson in the semis to lead him to the final round against teammate Matt Hagan and the Rocky Boots car. Matt took out his DSR teammate Johnny to get to the final. When Ron took out Wilkerson, we at DSR breathed a sigh of relief. Ron’s win helped secured the seventh spot in the $100,000 Traxxas Shootout on Sept. 1 during the U.S. Nationals. Jack is the highest ranking car at seventh to not have won a race yet this season.
It was a great Funny Car final between our two teams as Ron scored the narrow win 4.06 to 4.09. Matt got the jump out of the starting gate, but the NAPA team won by just one-thousandth of a second. It was great to see Capps and the NAPA team get the win. What a way to rebound after blowing the body off the car Saturday and their DNQ in Seattle. It also was Ron’s 499th career round win. Hopefully round win No. 500 comes at Indy.
We saw a close Top Fuel race between Spencer and Clay, with the Battery Extender team turning on the win light and joining the NAPA team in the winner’s circle for DSR’s sixth double up this season. With Spencer’s win, he tied his former team owner Don Prudhomme with 14 career wins and passed his childhood idol Eddie Hill on the all-time Top Fuel wins list. We now have 20 wins this season after earning 22 Wally trophies last year.
It was a great weekend in Brainerd, but now it is time to look towards Indy. We all can’t wait for the “Big Go” Labor Day weekend in Indianapolis. Along with the race we have the Traxxas shootout in Top Fuel on Saturday and Funny Car on Sunday. We also have our annual DSR Open House to benefit Riley Hospital for Children on Friday, Aug. 30, from a 10 a.m.-3 p.m. We hope to see you guys there!
Our teams are in the process of heading back to Indy, where they will begin two days of testing on this Wednesday and Thursday to gear up for the race and the upcoming countdown.
I hope you all have a great week.
Thanks for reading,
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