Conditions are dramatically different on Saturday at Brainerd Int’l Raceway as Mike Salinas and Bob Tasca III attempt to maintain their grip on the top qualifying spots in Top Fuel and Funny Car
The second day of the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd offers a lot of promise, but also a big challenge for Camping World NHRA Series pros since overnight rains have resulted in dramatically different conditions. On Friday, the temperature was an unseasonably warm (for Northern Minnesota) 90 degrees while Saturday’s high is expected to be closer to 70. The conditions are remarkably different today and the same can likely be said for the track prep since the torrential rains that came through on Friday night mean that the NHRA Safety Safari had to work overtime to ready the surface.
The bottom line is that while Friday’s performances were mostly good, Saturday should offer a significant chance for improvement.
In Top Fuel, Mike Salinas went 3.752 at 326.08 in his Scrappers entry to take the provisional top spot. If it holds, it would be the first top spot of the year for Salinas and the seventh in his career, but given the change in conditions, that isn’t likely to happen. Salinas came into Brainerd as the sixth-ranked Top Fuel racer but fourth place is well within reach, so he’s looking to garner every available point.
Following Salinas is Leah Pruett, who is fresh off a pair of final rounds on the Western Swing including a win in Pomona at the delayed Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals. Pruett ran a 3.789 while 2020 Rookie of the Year Justin Ashley has settled into the No. 3 spot at 3.807. One driver to watch today is Brittany Force. The winner of last week’s Topeka race, Force ran 3.813 yesterday but only ran 286.89 at the finish line, indicating a very early shut off.
Bob Tasca, who was the points leader for an eight-race stretch earlier this year, holds the No. 1 spot in Funny Car with a 3.941 run in his Motorcraft Mustang. -seconds at 326.63 mph. Tasca has slipped in the standings but he remains just 50 points behind leader John Force so he’s got an opportunity to make a major move this weekend.
Alexis DeJoria, a past Brainerd winner, is lurking behind Tasca with a 3.963 in her RoKit/Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota. DeJoria has been one of the most consistent qualifiers in the Funny Car class with just one start lower than sixth in 11 races. She’s also been the No. 2 qualifier on six occasions. Topeka champ Force, leading the Camping World Funny Car standings for the first time in seven years, is third with a 3.968 while J.R. Todd is fourth at 3.970.
The Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals also features action in the E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod Series and the first Mountain Motor Pro Stock exhibition race of the 2021 season as well as a full roster of competition in the Lucas Oil Series sportsman categories. Brandon Snider leads the Pro Mod field with a 5.877 in his J&A Service Corvette while Elijah Morton wheeled his Mustang to a 6.408 to lead the Mountain Motor Pro Stock contingent.
You can catch the action all weekend on FOX Sports 1 and NHRA.tv.
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NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying on Saturday, Aug. 21 at 2 and 5:15 p.m. Final eliminations start Sunday at 11 a.m.
Qualifying: Sunday, Aug. 22, 12 p.m., Eastern, FS1
Eliminations: Sunday, Aug. 22, 3-6 p.m., Eastern, FOX