Brainerd, Minn. - Momentum is critical entering the biggest NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event of the year and then the six-event Countdown to the Championship that begins two weeks later.
Spencer Massey intends for his Prestone/FRAM team to regain momentum at the Aug. 29-Sept. 3 U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, but it might not be as easy to get the points lead back that he lost to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Antron Brown on Sunday.
Massey was upset in the first round of eliminations in the NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway when his dragster briefly lost traction but it was enough to enable Bruce Litton to get around him.
"The lanes were pretty equal. Our car was so close to making it," said Massey, who qualified third in the dragster tuned by crew chiefs Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler. "I felt the car start to quiver at about 200 feet and it kept quivering until it smoked 'em."
Meanwhile, Brown advanced to the championship round where he lost to Morgan Lucas but earned 60 more points than Massey to take a 58-point lead.
"Drag racing is full of ups and downs and at least we got our 'down' out of the way now," Massey said. "Now I'm ready for the upswing again. Hey, that was our only first-round loss of the year, and if we had to have one it's good to get it out of the way before Indy and before the Countdown."
The Countdown field will be finalized after Indy when the top-10 drivers in the standings will begin contesting for the season championship at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte.
A key aspect of setting the field is that point standings will be reset at 10-point intervals with the points leader getting an additional 20-point bonus .
"I want to get to Indy and get our No. 1 spot back before the Countdown," Massey said, adding his team will join several others for testing Wednesday and Thursday during closed sessions at Raceway Park at Indianapolis.
"At least we won't have to go to Indy right off a first-round loss. We'll be there this week for testing and have the Prestone/FRAM dragster ready to win some rounds. We'll get after it and get back to the top spot at Indy."
The following are Massey's results from the NHRA Nationals at Brainerd:
Event winner: Morgan Lucas, Morgan Lucas Racing
No. 1 qualifier: Tony Schumacher, DSR, 3.791 sec., 323.97 mph
Spencer Massey, Prestone/FRAM dragster
Qualified: No. 3
First round: Bruce Litton (3.884, 304.74) def. MASSEY (5.037, 138.10)
Session 1: 3.837 sec., 319.14 mph
Session 2: 4.240, 195.82
Session 3: 3.794, 323.12 (quickest in round)
Session 4: 3.950, 300.26
NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel Standings
(Unofficial through Aug. 19, Brainerd, Minn.; 16 of 23 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. ANTRON BROWN, 1,335
2. SPENCER MASSEY, 1,277
3. TONY SCHUMACHER, 1,196
4. Steve Torrence, 1,139
5. Doug Kalitta, 971
6. Morgan Lucas, 945
7. Shawn Langdon, 874
8. David Grubnic, 809
9. Brandon Bernstein, 800
10. Bob Vandergriff Jr., 664
Next full throttle event: Aug. 29-Sept. 3, U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis
Source: Don Schumacher Racing