Indianapolis, Ind. (Pre-race) - In the world of drag racing Labor Day weekend has always been synonymous with the US Nationals and Indianapolis. To many within the sport, Indy is considered the most prestigious race of the year. A win at the US ...
Indianapolis, Ind. (Pre-race) - In the world of drag racing Labor Day weekend has always been synonymous with the US Nationals and Indianapolis. To many within the sport, Indy is considered the most prestigious race of the year. A win at the US Nationals would be the equivalent to winning the World Series or the Super Bowl.
As Brian "Lump" Self and his Roof-Tec Pro Stock Truck team arrive in Indianapolis for the running of the 46th Annual NHRA US Nationals, they are determined to make this the year they take home the Pro Stock Truck trophy.
"The US Nationals is the big one," said Self. "That is the race that everyone wants to win, and so do I. If you can't win the championship, then Indy is the race you want to win. Last year I went out in the second round, I would like to change that this year."
The Pro Stock Truck category runs a 15 race abbreviated schedule. This schedule gives the trucks a six weeks summer hiatus. But Self and his Roof-Tec team did not spend their summer vacation on the beach, quite the opposite. The team has spent the last six weeks in a grueling schedule of testing, match races and motor development. All in an effort to try to give them the upper hand at Indy and for the remainder of the season.
"Going into Indy, we will have new motor combinations in both my and Jeff's (Roof-Tec team-mate Jeff Naiser) truck. Jeff chassis is new, and we have gone completely through mine chassis to make it as good as it can be. We have spent a lot of time testing and on the dyno in the last six weeks to make everything perfect. We want to be as good as we can be when we pull on to the parking lot at Indy.
"We have also hired Buddy Nickens. Buddy has years of experience and will be a big asset to this team. At the racetrack, he will be doing the clutch on Jeff's truck, and at the shop, he will be helping Chad (Hagen, crew chief) prepare the trucks for the next races.
"Jeff's truck is what is really going to help us the most in making up ground on the rest of the field. I think Jeff is going to surprise many people in the second half. His truck is very fast right now, and his driving is right on. I really think he is going to be the spoiler in the second half of the season.
"As good as Jeff is going to be, it will be the exchange of data between the two trucks that is really going to help me. This is a two-truck team, and the help that we can give each other is what will make the difference in Indy and the second half. When you have two trucks that are the same style and set up the same you get double the knowledge. Instead of having four, we have eight qualifying passes to pull data from. The extra data will help us get the most out of our trucks in Indianapolis."
Self talked about the Roof-Tec team's strategy for the US Nationals.
"Our plan for Indy is to qualify well into the top half of the field with both trucks. Which I do not think is out of the question. I will not be surprised if we don't see 45 trucks trying to qualify for those 16 spots. So, It will not be easy to qualify there, but I think that with Jeff and I pulling together we will both be able to make the show.
"Once we get qualified then it is just like any other race, we will just have to take it round by round. We will concentrate on beating the guy in the other lane and not beat ourselves.
"There is a possibility that I may have to race Jeff. If that happens it will be just like if I was racing any other guy in the class. It doesn't matter to me who I have in the other lane; I approach it the same. I will stage the same, try to wear the tree out and get to the top end first; I expect Jeff to do the same.
"I think we have all the pieces in place. We have done our homework. I have a great crew, Jeff is a great guy to have as a teammate, we have good horsepower, and my driving is right where it should be. I think, if we use our heads and race smart, that we could possibly get to the winner circle at Indy. Indy is the big one. It is like the World Series and the Super Bowl all rolled into one. This is the race everyone wants to win, and the race I want to win."
The first round of qualifying at the 46th Annual NHRA US Nationals begins on Friday Sept. 1. Qualifying then continues Saturday Sept. 2 and Sunday Sept. 3. Eliminations begin at 11:00 AM EST on Monday Sept. 4.