Some of the best Sportsman drag racers in the country converged on Brainerd International Raceway last weekend during the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in search of late-season series points toward divisional and national championships. The problem for many, though, is that BIR is a hotbed for drag racing and is home to some of the best amateur drivers.
That was the case again this year, when Ben Line and Brian Johnson took home Wally trophies after winning the Stock Eliminator and Super Stock classes, respectively. Two other BIR racers, Jason DeForrest and Michael Freischel, were runners up in their classes.
Line, a perennial powerhouse in the Stock/Super Stock class in BIR’s Bracket Drag Racing Series, repeated as winner of the Stock Eliminator class. Driving his green ’69 Mustang, Line ran 10.538 seconds at 123.15 mph in the finals against Randi Lyn Shipp, inching past her at the finish line after Shipp ran 10.679 seconds and 106.56 mph.
Johnson, who’s typically at the top of the points standings in BIR’s Bracket series Super Pro and Quick 16 classes, made his debut in the Winner’s Circle of an NHRA National event on Sunday. Johnson won his way to the Super Stock finals where he lined up against another tough customer from BIR’s Bracket series: Jason DeForrest. But DeForrest was a little antsy and fouled at the starting line, handing Johnson the win.
In Top Sportsman presented by Racing RVs, Freischel, who races in BIR’s Quick 16 class, earned a trip to the finals but ran into a red-hot J.R. Lobner, who had won the class the weekend before during BIR’s Thunder at the Lakes, the NHRA Lucas Oil divisional race. Lobner had the power and was better at the top end to nip Freischel by about five inches after running 7.559 seconds at 178.31 mph to Freischel’s 7.581 seconds at 180.89 mph.
In the Top Alcohol classes, Jackie Fricke and Annie Whiteley led the list of winners, followed by a slew of first-time winners.
Fricke had her work cut out for her as Dean Dubbin was out first with a great .009 second reaction time in the Top Alcohol Dragster final round. But Fricke had the power all day running 5.20’s and 5.30’s with a 5.302-second pass at 269.24 mph in the final to power by Dubbin for the win and her third at the national event level.
Whiteley qualified No. 1 and faced off with veteran Top Alcohol Funny Car pilot Jay Payne in the money round. Payne left first but had trouble at the hit of the throttle as Whiteley shot past with a time of 5.564 seconds and 267.37 mph for her second national event win of the season and sixth of her career.
Don Nichols, Jeff Crooks and Todd Fleck all grabbed their first NHRA National event win and famed Wally trophy. Nichols lead from start to finish with a stellar .004 reaction time in Super Comp over Donald Leisdon.
Crooks ran it out to an 8.899 seconds and 160.04 mph for the Super Gas trophy after Tom Carlson left early with a foul start, and Fleck scored his first win in his first final round in Top Dragster presented by Racing RVs when Ross Laris broke on the line.
Glenn Hall rounded out the Winner’s Circle taking the holeshot win against Matt Ernst in Pro Stock Snowmobile. Hall went 8.273 seconds 155.79 mph to Ernst’s 8.242, 155.19. It was Hall’s third straight NHRA Nationals win at BIR.
The following are the final results from the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals:
Top Alcohol Dragster
Jackie Fricke, 5.302, 269.24 def. Dean Dubbin, 5.443, 264.86.
Top Alcohol Funny Car
Annie Whiteley, Chevy Camaro, 5.564, 267.37 def. Jay Payne, Camaro, 11.980, 68.98.
Brian Johnson, Plymouth Duster, 11.164, 116.68 def. Jason DeForrest, Chevy Cavalier, Foul – Red Light.
Ben Line, Ford Mustang, 10.538, 123.15 def. Randi Lyn Shipp, Pontiac Firebird, 10.679, 106.56.
Don Nichols, Dragster, 8.899, 160.04 def. Donald Leisdon, Dragster, 8.877, 172.89.
Jeff Crooks, Pontiac Firebird, 9.885, 151.87 def. Tom Carlson, Chevy Corvette, Foul – Red Light.
Top Dragster presented by RacingRVs.com
Todd Fleck, Dragster, 7.591, 154.30 def. Ross Laris, Dragster, Broke.
Top Sportsman presented by RacingRVs.com
J.R. Lobner, Olds Cutlass, 7.559, 178.31 def. Michael Freischel, Pontiac Firebird, 7.581, 180.89.
Pro Stock Snowmobile
Glenn Hall, Arctic Cat, 8.273, 155.70 def. Matt Ernst, Arctic Cat, 8.242, 155.19.