NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Saturday Preview

19 Aug 2023
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
Race coverage

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.

Friday’s opening qualifying runs at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals produced several dramatic moments and a bit of adversity as the second Top Fuel qualifying session had to be called off as darkness fell over Brainerd Int’l Raceway.

There will be two more sessions today in order to set the fields in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock, but the weather figures to be dramatically different with Friday’s 78-degree high replaced by low 90s providing an ample challenge for professional crew chiefs.

Doug Kalitta heads into Saturday as the provisional low qualifier after a 3.75 run in his Mac Tools dragster. Kalitta continues his long search for a landmark 50th win, has shown steady improvement this season as he’s recently risen to the No. 7 spot in the Camping World NHRA Series standings.

Kalitta is followed by Steve Torrence, Brittany Force, Leah Pruett, and Antron Brown, all of whom have extensive experience racing in Brainerd.

Saturday’s qualifying will also include the latest round of the Mission Foods 2Fast2Tasty Challenge which will featured a rematch of the semifinalists from the most recent event last week in Topeka. Event winner and current points leader Justin Ashley will take on Antron Brown while runner-up Brittany Force will have a rematch against Clay Millican.

In Funny Car, reigning and three-time world champ Ron Capps leads the quick field with a 3.894 in his NAPA Toyota. Capps was also the leader after Q1, giving him a clean sweep of all six available bonus points.

The top nine Funny Cars ran in the threes yesterday including J.R. Todd, Bob Tasca III, Matt Hagan, and Robert Hight, who will be featured in the Funny Car portion of the Mission 2Fast2Tasty Challenge. Tasca, the Topeka champion, will take on Hight’s Cornwell Tools Camaro while Todd will face Hagan. The interesting quad will also feature a manufacturers battle with Ford, Chevy, Dodge, and Toyota equally represented.

Greg Anderson leads the Pro Stock class after Friday’s qualifying with a pair of solid runs including a 6.597 aboard his HendrickCars.com Camaro. The rest of the field is close behind including Matt  Hartford, Erica Enders, Cristian Cuadra, and Deric Kramer, who occupy the top five positions.

Anderson will also take part in the Mission 2Fast2Tasty Challenge following his runner-up finish in Topeka. Anderson will be paired with Kramer’s GetBioFuel Camaro while Topeka winner Enders is set to square off with Dallas Glenn’s RAD Torque Systems Camaro as teams battle for bonus cash and valuable bonus points towards the Countdown to the Championship.

Saturday’s docket will also include final qualifying and eliminations for the Lucas Oil Sportsman categories including Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car.

Following the conclusion of the day’s on-track activities, attention will shift to the famed Brainerd Zoo, the expansive campground adjacent to the track. Activities in the Brainerd Zoo include live bands and an epic fireworks show set for 10 p.m.