BRAINERD, Minn. -- After the usually grueling, normally frustrating, just completed "Western Swing", Brainerd, Minn., site of this weekend's 21st annual NHRA Rugged Liner Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR), in the heart of lake ...
BRAINERD, Minn. -- After the usually grueling, normally frustrating, just completed "Western Swing", Brainerd, Minn., site of this weekend's 21st annual NHRA Rugged Liner Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR), in the heart of lake country in central Minnesota, is the perfect place for drivers and crews to unwind and recharge their batteries. This in no ways means that the teams aren't focus on this weekend's race.
Cory McClenathan, from Anaheim, Calif., driver of the Henkelman & Baca Motorsports Centennial Batteries Top Fuel Dragster, is no exception. McClenathan and his wife of three months, Amy, took the long road to Brainerd in their motor coach stopping for some rest and relaxation in Montana and other points between their California home and Brainerd. Upon arrival McClenathan had this thought.
"Boy, the area in and around Brainerd is beautiful and if one let himself or herself, one could forget the job at hand and focus on the wrong things," said McClenathan. "But the fact is, the season is not over and Brainerd counts just as much as the last 15 events and the same as the next seven. This Henkelman and Baca team has no intentions of forgetting that fact. It will be business as usual here at Brainerd. I have a job to do."
On the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, the Western Swing -- three consecutive weekend of competition in Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, Calif. -- is as much a part of summer as is cookouts, trips to the beaches and lakes and sunburn. But for McClenathan, it's been work.
During the swing, McClenathan went to the finals at Denver and the quarterfinals at the other two races. He recaptured third place in the POWERade point standings and now has his sights set on the Top Fuel title at the Rugged Liner Nationals.
"We held our own during the last three races. Let me tell you that's a tough grind. Now we must turn our full attention to Brainerd. Qualify and go some rounds. If the opportunity is there to win this thing, you can bet we'll be first in line," said McClenathan.
In 1990, in his Top Alcohol Dragster days, McClenathan won his first trip to Brainerd. After turning pro in 1991, he followed that up with a BIR win in 1997 and has gone to the semifinals five other times. Not too shabby of a record for the California driver in ten efforts at BIR.
"I don't just like Brainerd, I love Brainerd. For whatever reason I've had unusual success at the Brainerd track. Nothing would suit me better than to get my second win here and my first of this season. That definitely would give the Henkelman and Baca team some momentum heading into the homestretch," concluded McClenathan.