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The latest update as of August 24, 2022

One Wild, Weird Weekend of racing at Brainerd

The 15th of 22 events on the Camping World NHRA Drag Racing Series 2022 schedule was completed on Sunday at Brainerd International Raceway. There were some difficulties getting to the conclusion, as Thursday and Friday were both affected with some serious thunderstorms and heavy rain. Sportsman racers saw their time trials and qualifying cut short on Thursday and when racing started five hours late on Friday, it started with Top Alcohol, then went straight into Top Fuel. By the time the second qualifying session for the fuel cars was finished on Friday afternoon, the track was in great shape and the e.t.'s and speeds reflected that.

The final two qualifying sessions for Top Fuel and Funny Car on Saturday showed mixed results as teams tried to improve their positions, but results were mixed, although the weather was better and the track was still showing lots of grip. Note that Pro Stock, car and motorcycle, were not contested at this event, with just Top Alcohol and Pro Mod to back up the nitro show.

Sunday's eliminations opened with the best atmospheric conditions of the weekend (2400 ft. corrected altitude) and moderate track temps (93 F), and some of the fuel cars took full advantage of it. Notable was Brittany Force's low e.t. of the meet, and nearly top speed, with a great 3.646 - 333.58 on a bye run. And Krista Baldwin set new career bests of 3.817 - 319.52 as her car moved into competitive territory. As the round progressed, the track started warming and the final pair of Top Fuel cars engaged in a pedal-fest with side-by-side 4-second runs for Austin Prock and Billy Torrence.

The majority of the Funny Cars slowed a bit as they saw conditions weren't optimum, but two highlights were provided by (relatively) low-buck teams. The first surprise of the round was long-time competitor Dale "Peanut" Creasy Jr. blasting out a new career best of 3.967, coupled with a huge speed of 327.43 as he gave eventual event winner Bob Tasca III almost all he could handle. The next surprise, after a disastrous time in qualifying (best of 4.119), was second generation flopper pilot Bobby Bode, who took the winlight over Cruz Pedregon, with a great 3.931 - 316.08 that left Pedregon a full car length back at the finish line.

Ninety minutes later, with track 15 degrees warmer, and air 500 ft. worse, the first three pairs of Top Fuel cars could barely get down the track, as all of them smoked the tires at some point in their runs. Most lit the tires earlier, rather than later. Only the final pair of the round, Justin Ashley and Shawn Langdon engaged in a side-by-side 3-second race, with Ashley winning at 3.726 - 330.63 over Langdon's 3.807 - 324.44 effort.

Statement of Action(s) Against Participant(s) - August 22, 2022

The following action has been taken against Chad Head regarding an incident that occurred during the Menards NHRA Nationals Presented by PetArmour held August 12th through August 14th, 2022. As a result of the incident, Head has been fined twelve hundred and fifty dollars ($1,250) for conduct deemed to be out of order which resulted in damage to an NHRA measurement tool. The fine will be dedicated to enhancing the capabilities of the Safety Safari. The fine is appealable.

Four Top Sportsman entries were caught with "pinned fire bottles" during the same event. Their qualifying runs were DQ'd and $1,000 fines issued against each driver. This followed two instances of the same infraction in the same eliminator (Top Sportsman) at the recently completed Denso NHRA Sonoma Nationals. Also on the list of infractions was Jim Campbell, (Jim Dunn Racing driver), who was fined $2500 at Brainerd for "parachutes not properly anchored". This was levied after an incident in the first qualifying of Nitro Funny Car, when both parachutes launched, then detached themselves from the car after crossing the finish line. Thnakfully, due to the very long braking area at Brainerd, Campbell was able to stop the car safely.

Even though all of the above infractions might not have been the fault of the driver, it is the driver that is ultimately responsible for the proper preparation and operation of the race car. To take shortcuts on safety is one of the worst things a driver can do, and can not only endanger the driver, but his/her opponent, crew members, track workers, specators, etc. Hopefully, this rash of fines will be a serious wakeup call to those who think "it can't happen to me".