The 14th of 21 events in the 2023 Camping World NHRA Drag Racing Series is on deck as the tour moves to rustic Brainerd Int’l Raceway for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, an event jam packed with action including Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, Pro Mod, and a full roster of Lucas Oil Series sportsman racing. The event will also feature the latest round of the Mission 2Fast2Tasty Challenge.
Last week in Topeka, Justin Ashley continued his rampage through the Top Fuel category with his sixth win of the season. Ashley has been dominant for most of the season but has yet to win or even make a final in his limited appearances in Brainerd.
Ashley has clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship and so has No. 2 ranked Steve Torrence, who has a long history of success in Brainerd.
The Mission 2Fast2Tasty Challenge, held on Saturday, will include Ashley, along with Topeka runner-up Brittany Force and semifinalist Antron Brown and Clay Millican. Ironically, Brown and Millican each have wins this year while Force, the reigning champ, is still searching for her first title. It’s also worth noting that Brown has six wins in Brainerd although five of them came at the helm of a Pro Stock Motorcycle.
When it comes to parity, the Top fuel class actually has it in spite of Ashley’s six wins as Brown, Millican, Mike Salinas, Torrence, Leah Pruett, and Austin Prock have all won races. So, who could be next? Perhaps Force, Doug Kalitta, Shawn Langdon, Josh Hart, or Tony Schumacher can find a way to get the job done.
There is also tremendous parity in the Funny Car class as there have been seven winners so far this season including Bob Tasca III, who has won two races including the most recent one in Topeka last week. Tasca also happens to be the defending race winner in Brainerd which gives him the favorite’s status this week.
Tasca gets another shot at the Mission Foods 2Fast2Tasty Challenge this week along with Topeka runner-up Matt Hagan and semifinal finishers Robert Hight and J.R. Todd.
John Force has won just about everywhere in his Hall of Fame career but there are few places where the 16-time champ has enjoyed as much success as Brainerd Int’l Raceway, where he’s visited the winner’s circle 11 times in 15 final. Ron Capps also has a special relationship with BIR, having won six times in 10 final round appearances.
The Pro Stock class makes a triumphant return to Brainerd after a three-year hiatus and while much has changed in the last three years, some things have not including Erica Enders status as one of the class’ leading drivers. Enders has struggled at times this season, but righted the ship last week with a convincing victory in Topeka. She’s also a former winner in Brainerd and comes in on a high note as she looks to cement her place in the Countdown to the Championship standings.
Enders will be joined in Saturday’s Mission 2Fast2Tasty Challenge by runner-up Greg Anderson and semifinal finishers Dallas Glenn, and Deric Kramer. Both Anderson and Kramer are also past Brainerd winners.
The Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car classes should also be of particular interest to Brainerd fans as they welcome the addition of NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart, who is battling for the championship in his first full season in an injected nitro dragster.
The Top Alcohol Funny Car class will also welcome the return of world champion Doug Gordon, who escaped injury in a frightening accident at last year’s Brainerd event. Gordon remains one of the leading contenders for the 2023 title as well.
2022 EVENT WINNERS
Steve Torrence, Top Fuel; Bob Tasca III, Funny Car (Pro Stock was not contested)
Joe Amato, 6, TF; John Force, 11, FC; Bruce Allen, Jeg Coughlin, Bob Glidden, Kurt Johnson, Warren Johnson, 4, Pro Stock
Top Fuel - 3.640 seconds by Leah Pruett, Aug. '17; 334.98 mph by Brittany Force, Aug. ‘21
Funny Car - 3.793 seconds by Robert Hight, Aug. '17; 338.00 mph by Hight, Aug. '17
Pro Stock - 6.541 seconds by Erica Enders, Aug. '15; 211.39 mph by Shane Gray, Aug. '15
Top Fuel - 3.623 sec. by Brittany Force, Sept. '19, Reading, Pa.; 338.94 mph by Brittany Force, Nov. ‘22, Pomona, Calif.
Funny Car - 3.793 sec. by Robert Hight, Aug. '17, Brainerd; 339.87 mph by Robert Hight, July ’17, Sonoma, Calif.
Pro Stock - 6.450 sec. by Erica Enders, March '22, Gainesville, Fla.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May '14, Englishtown, N.J.
EVENT SCHEDULE (Central Time)
FRIDAY, August 18
Lucas Oil Series Drag Racing Series qualifying (two sessions) at 9:15 a.m.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying at 2:45 p.m. and 6 p.m.
SATURDAY, August 19
Lucas Oil Series Drag Racing Series eliminations at 9:15 a.m.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying at 12:45 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, August 20
Pre-Race ceremonies begin at 10 a.m.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m.
FRIDAY, August 18, FS1 will televise 90 minutes of qualifying coverage at 8:00 p.m. ET
SUNDAY, August 20, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 1:00 p.m. ET
SUNDAY, August 20, FOX TV will televise three hours of finals coverage at 4:00 p.m. ET
Watch all day on NHRA.tv