After a stunning sweep in Epping, 'Chicago Fire' team look to continues
World Finals to wrap up Nitro Jam season this weekend
PETERSBURG, Va. (October 11, 2010) -- After a stunning sweep of the Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car field in Epping last month, Rick Krafft and the "Chicago Fire" team have enjoyed a whirlwind month leading up to this weekend's World Finals Nitro Jam at Virginia Motorsports Park in Petersburg.
But amid all the attention and excitement surrounding the teams upset win nearly one month ago, Krafft is quick to admit that an unexpected backlash has occurred because of that success.
"We don't really have the element of surprise anymore," Krafft said with a laugh. "We have struggled all season long with parts failures and other problems and because of that people didn't always take us so seriously. Suddenly now we are on everyone's radar."
To call Krafft's pair of victories at the North American Nitro Jam last month an upset is an understatement. Having suffered through a number of catastrophic parts failures and car issues that left the team unable to complete seven of 24 total rounds entering the race in New Hampshire, the "Chicago Fire" team owned by Mike Faser simply wasn't taken that seriously on the track.
"Mike is one tough guy, but it was hard suffering through that many problems. Most teams may have considered pulling the chutes for good after losing three engines in four races plus a few near wrecks, but Mike hung in there and kept us thinking positive," Krafft said. "We knew we had a real hot rod somewhere, we just had to find it."
Then, with only two races remaining and the disappointment of a failed season beginning to set in, the unthinkable happened -- "Chicago Fire" suddenly became the car to beat.
Entering the North American Nitro Jam last month no one gave Krafft much of a chance, but they certainly do now. Firing off three runs in the 5.80s and beating Steve Nichols and Peter Gallen, the top two drivers in the points, Krafft asserted himself as a force to be reckoned with in a class dominated by the two drivers he defeated.
Included in those passes were three consecutive career best runs for the "Chicago Fire" team and four round wins after recording four total round wins in his previous six races.
Now the team enters this weekend's World Finals Nitro Jam with a new sense of pride, but also with a bright orange target on their backs.
"We are absolutely elated how things went at Epping, but we also have a long way to go," Faser said. "With the tough competition in the Prostalgia class, one weekend certainly does not make you any better, but it does tell us we are getting this old buggy to run again.
"The other thing is now we really have to prove ourselves. We are going to stick with our same philosophy of getting from point A to point B safely while putting on a good show for the incredible Nitro Jam fans, but we hope the little tweaks we are making to the car continue to help us run better."
"With Michael Kerr providing the 'Chicago Fire' tuneup, and Dan Minick with Any Kacena keeping everything else in order, we really look forward to what we can do in Richmond this weekend."
And the "Chicago Fire" team isn't the only group in the pits anxious to see what the red and white Corvette can do in Richmond. Many of the other teams have taken notice of Krafft and the "Chicago Fire" and will be looking to give him their best this weekend at the World Finals Nitro Jam at Virginia Motorsports Park.