BRAINERD, MN – August 17, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – There are the usual reasons Greg Anderson is looking forward to returning to his home track, Brainerd International Raceway.
There’s the chance to meet up with family and friends, revisit memories from a track where the Duluth, Minn., native grew up racing, and it’s what he calls a break from the heat and humidity in Charlotte, N.C., where the Ken Black Racing team is located.
But more than anything, it’s an opportunity to shine in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro when the extra attention comes his way. Anderson has always thrived in the races where there is more pressure, whether it is at his sponsor’s race or a trip back to his home track. The four-time Pro Stock world champion has three victories in Brainerd and will look to move into a tie for the most in Pro Stock history at the track during this weekend’s 35th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
“We’ve learned to embrace it and these types of races seem to motivate us,” said Anderson, who is currently second in Pro Stock points with an impressive seven wins. “History has proven that these are the types of races we seem to do best at. The added pressure makes you drive harder and it seems to work out the best for us. A lot of teams maybe shy away from that and maybe use it as an excuse. But we don’t want that. We want to use it as a motivator. I love it and think it’s great.”
Richie Crampton (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the pivotal event that will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) for the first time. FS1 is also adding 30 minutes of live NHRA programming on Saturday to televise the final rounds of Top Fuel and Funny Car from the postponed event in Seattle. The added telecast will air from 3 to 3:30 p.m. ET and will feature the Funny Car final between Del Worsham and Ron Capps, as well as the Top Fuel final between Antron Brown and Steve Torrence. Both final rounds will take place during the third round of qualifying.
The Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, the 17th of 24 events during the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, is also the penultimate race of the regular season before the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship begins. Anderson and his longtime teammate and current points leader Jason Line, also a Minnesota native, have each enjoyed a brilliant season in the redesigned Pro Stock class.
They each have seven victories, with Anderson most recently winning in Sonoma, Calif. It has made them both heavy favorites heading to the Countdown to the Championship, but with a talented group of competitors coming on strong, Anderson, who has 85 career victories, knows there is no time to relax.
“You constantly try to find more horsepower and you don’t sit on what you have,” Anderson said. “We wouldn’t have won 14 races by now if we hadn’t continued to go forward. You have to do that or you’re going to get passed by. There are a lot of great competitors in this class and they want to knock us off the mountain. We have to find a way to make a better package for the next race and that’s the mindset we’ve had all year.”
That mindset has led to brilliant and confident driving from Anderson throughout the season. He has parlayed that into 11 final round appearances and wins at four of the past eight races. Having a dominant car is certainly ideal and Anderson has made the most out of it this year.
“Confidence has always gone a long way for me,” Anderson said. “When I’ve got a race car that I know will be fast every time down the track, that seems to have a positive effect on me. It’s critically important to have a clear mind. When you’re thinking about what might go wrong and you’ve got a cloudy mind, you’re going to struggle to cut reaction times. We’ve got that great car this year and all I have to do is go up and execute.”
Anderson will look to get his first win at Brainerd International Raceway since 2011 and to take even more momentum into the Countdown to the Championship. Trying to prevent that is a loaded Pro Stock class that includes Line, defending event winner Enders, who has claimed the last two world championships, four-time Brainerd winner Jeg Coughlin, Bo Butner, Allen Johnson, who won in Denver, 2015 top rookie Drew Skillman, Vincent Nobile, Chicago No. 1 qualifier Shane Gray and Texan Chris McGaha.
But a motivated Anderson racing at his home track could make for another special weekend for the longtime Pro Stock standout.
“I’ve got a lot of great memories at this track,” Anderson said. “I raced there with my father and made a lot of great friends there. It’s a neat feeling and a special one to win. It’s just a great feeling to win at your home track where you put in all those years learning how to race. It’s just great to go back there and we’re definitely going in with a lot of confidence.”
Crampton pushed his Lucas Oil dragster to the Winner’s Circle in Brainerd last season to claim his fourth victory of the year, but is still looking for his first win in 2016. Reigning world champ Antron Brown has a grip on the points lead and is putting together a strong championship defense, but looking to knock him off the top spot is three-time Brainerd winner and eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher, three-time 2016 winner Doug Kalitta, J.R. Todd, who won in Sonoma, Texan Steve Torrence, Brittany Force, Leah Pritchett and Shawn Langdon.
In Funny Car, Hight defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. here one year ago to notch his first victory of the 2015 season. Everyone is chasing points leader Ron Capps, who has four wins in 2016, but Capps, who has five Brainerd victories, will have his hands full. He will deal with a loaded class that includes 11-time Brainerd winner John Force, who won back-to-back races this year in Denver and Sonoma, Jack Beckman, Courtney Force, reigning world champion Del Worsham, Matt Hagan and Tim Wilkerson.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec powered to his third consecutive victory of the 2015 season last year at Brainerd International Raceway and is the current points leader. His teammate and reigning world champion Andrew Hines is right behind him in second thanks to three victories this season. But the Pro Stock Motorcycle field is deep and talented, and features the likes of LE Tonglet, who won in Sonoma, Angelle Sampey, who recently won her first race since 2007 in Englishtown, N.J., Jerry Savoie, veteran Steve Johnson, Matt Smith, Hector Arana, Hector Arana Jr. and Chip Ellis.
The Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where the future stars of the sport earn their racing stripes.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand how the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 3 and 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 19, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Aug. 20, at 1 and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 21.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 218-824-RACE (7223) or 866-444-4455. Tickets also are available online at www.brainerdraceway.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS
WHAT: 35th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, the 17th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The NHRA Lucas Oil Series also will be featured at this event.
WHERE: Brainerd International Raceway and Resort, Brainerd, Minn. Track is located a few miles north of the Brainerd area off Highway 371. The track is located on the east side of the highway.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 1,200 feet above sea level; Track direction is west to east.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 18-21
THURSDAY, Aug. 18 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
FRIDAY, Aug. 19 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 3 and 5:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, Aug. 20 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1 and 3:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, Aug. 21 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, Aug. 20, FS1 will televise thirty minutes of live coverage at 3 p.m. (ET).
Saturday, Aug. 20, FS1 will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 10 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Aug. 21, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 2 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Richie Crampton, Top Fuel; Robert Hight, Funny Car; Erica Enders, Pro Stock; Eddie Krawiec, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: John Force, 11, FC; Joe Amato, 6, TF; Kenny Bernstein, 5, FC/TF; Antron Brown, 5, TF/PSM; Ron Capps, 5, FC; Bruce Allen, 4, PS; Jeg Coughlin, 4, PS; Bob Glidden, 4, PS; Kurt Johnson, 4, PS; Warren Johnson, 4, PS.
Top Fuel – 3.662 sec. by Shawn Langdon, Aug. ’15; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15.
Funny Car – 3.879 sec. and 329.58 mph by Matt Hagan, Aug. ’15.
Pro Stock – 6.541 sec. by Erica Enders, Aug. ’15; 211.39 mph by Shane Gray, Aug. ’15.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.788 sec. and 197.39 by Eddie Krawiec, Aug. ’15.
Top Fuel – 3.671 sec. by Steve Torrence, July ’16, Sonoma, Calif.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.832 sec. by Del Worsham, Aug. ’16, Seattle; 335.57 mph by Matt Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: Order tickets by phone at (218) 824-RACE (7223). Tickets also are available online at www.brainerdraceway.com.
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 23 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association