Brainerd: GM Racing preview

BRAINERD, Minn., Aug. 11, 2004 - It's been an exceptional year already for the GM Racing program on the 23-event NHRA POWERade tour. With 15 contests completed, professional racers competing in Pro Stock and Funny Car in either a Pontiac or ...

BRAINERD, Minn., Aug. 11, 2004 - It's been an exceptional year already for the GM Racing program on the 23-event NHRA POWERade tour. With 15 contests completed, professional racers competing in Pro Stock and Funny Car in either a Pontiac or Chevrolet have tallied 22 national-event victories, raced in 40 final rounds and captured low qualifying honors for 19 eliminators. After three consecutive races staged west of the Rocky Mountains, the series shifts east for the 23rd annual Lucas Oil Nationals on Aug. 12 - 15 at Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minn. ESPN2 will televise two hours of qualifying highlights on Saturday, Aug. 14, beginning at 8 p.m. (ET), and three hours of eliminations coverage Aug. 15 starting at 7 p.m. Eastern.

* After 15 national events, Pontiac leads the NHRA Manufacturer's Cup standings with 2,880 points. Chevrolet is in second place with 2,340 points and Dodge is third with 740 points.

* Tim Wilkerson's second victory of the season at Sonoma, Calif., was the fifth win, and the seventh time this year that a Chevy Monte Carlo Funny Car had advanced to the final round. Phil Burkart has two victories this season in a Chevy Monte Carlo (Las Vegas, Denver) and Del Worsham has one (Columbus). Cruz Pedregon has been runner-up twice in a Monte Carlo (Denver, Seattle).

* Wilkerson was runner-up at Brainerd in 2003 and then went on to win the U.S. Nationals two weeks later in Indianapolis. Prior to last season's event at BIR, Wilkerson was 13th in the points standings, and then put together a string of races that earned him a 7th-place finish in the final Funny Car points standings. Wilkerson is 4 - 0 in final rounds since his runner-up at Brainerd in '03.

* Chevy Monte Carlo leads all brands for most wins in the Funny Car category this season. Ford is second with four and Dodge is third with three. When you add Del Worsham's two victories in a Pontiac Firebird earlier in the year at Phoenix and Gainesville, Fla., GM-branded cars bump their 2004 win total to seven.

* Greg Anderson picked up his 12th Pro Stock victory of the season at Sonoma, Calif. on Aug. 1. The Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac Grand Am driver became the first Pro Stock driver in NHRA history to sweep the three-race Western Swing (Denver, Seattle, Sonoma). Anderson also tied his own single-season win record set in 2003.

* With Anderson's victory in Sonoma, Pontiac claimed its 139th all-time win in NHRA Pro Stock competition, the most by any manufacturer in the 50-plus year history of the series.

* Anderson nabbed his 53rd round win of the season to go against three defeats raising his round win-loss percentage to 94.6, the highest winning ratio of any professional driver. The Summit Racing Pontiac Grand Am driver also has a streak of 16-straight round wins dating back to the NHRA Nationals in St. Louis on June 27.

* Chevy Cavalier Pro Stock driver Dave Connolly keeps knocking on the winner's circle door. The 21-year-old Ohio native advanced to his fourth final-round of the season at Sonoma and his second straight runner-up finish. Three of Connolly's four final round losses have been to Greg Anderson, and he was runner-up to ACDelco Chevrolet driver Kurt Johnson at Phoenix. Connolly is in fourth place in the NHRA POWERade Pro Stock standings.

* After 15 events, only five Pro Stock drivers remain standing who have qualified for every race this season. They include Greg Anderson (Pontiac), Bruce Allen (Pontiac), Kurt Johnson (Chevrolet), Jason Line (Pontiac) and Larry Morgan. At this time last season, only three drivers had qualified for every race (Greg Anderson, Kurt Johnson and Jeg Coughlin) and Anderson has the longest consecutive qualifying streak in Pro Stock at 39 races. Bruce Allen has qualified in 21 straight events, Kurt Johnson in 17 and Jason Line in 15.

* With eight races left to be contested, Anderson leads the Pro Stock standings with 1,625 points and teammate Jason Line is in second place in a Pontiac Grand Am with 1,057 points. ACDelco Chevy Cavalier driver Kurt Johnson is in third place with 998 points, Dave Connolly is fourth in a Chevy Cavalier with 918 and Larry Morgan is fifth with 879. Jeg Coughlin is sixth in a Cavalier with 696 points. Bruce Allen's Pontiac Grand Am is seventh with 673 points, Steve Johns is eighth in a Cavalier with 665 points, Warren Johnson is ninth in a Grand Am with 649 and Rickie Smith is 10th in a Cavalier with 557 points. Mike Edwards is in 12th place in a Pontiac Grand Am with 518 and Jim Yates is 13th with 464 points. Each round win is worth 20 points.

* It's not just the nice golf courses, but rather the success he's had on the BIR drag strip that has endeared Pontiac Grand Am driver Bruce Allen to the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Allen is tied with GM Performance Parts Pontiac driver Warren Johnson for most wins at Brainerd among active Pro Stock drivers, and only John Force has more professional victories of those still competing on the circuit. Allen's wins in Minnesota came in 1987, '89, '90 and most recently in 2001. Warren Johnson registered wins in 1984, '93, '95-96. Other current Pontiac Grand Am drivers with victories at BIR include defending champion Greg Anderson (2003) and Jim Yates (1994)

* Chevy Cavaliers hold the Pro Stock e.t. and speed record at BIR. Kurt Johnson's ACDelco Cavalier set the mph mark in 2003 at 201.01 and Ron Krisher's Valvoline Chevrolet ran the quickest lap at 6.857 seconds. Kurt Johnson was the No. 1 qualifier at last year's race and also ran the quickest e.t. of the meet at 6.876 seconds.

* Warren Johnson also leads the Pro Stock category for most low-qualifying awards among active drivers at BIR with four (1991, '97, '99, '01). Other current GM racers with low qualifying honors at Brainerd include Jim Yates (1995, '98), Bruce Allen (2000), Ron Krisher ('02) and Kurt Johnson ('03).

* Pontiac Grand Am driver Jim Yates' first career victory came at Brainerd International Raceway in 1994 and his first low-qualifying award came here in 1995. Yates has been runner-up twice (1995, '97) at this event.

* Chevy Monte Carlo Funny Car driver Ron Capps is a two-time winner (1998, 2001) at BIR and Cruz Pedregon won this event in 1992.

* Five Chevy Monte Carlo drivers hold a position in the top 10 of the POWERade Funny Car standings. CSK Chevy Monte Carlo driver Del Worsham is in third place with 972 points, Tim Wilkerson is in seventh place in a Chevy Monte Carlo with 834 points, Phil Burkart is eighth in a Chevy Monte Carlo with 799 points, Tony Pedregon is ninth in a Chevy Monte Carlo with 758 points and Cruz Pedregon is 10th in a Chevy Monte Carlo with 758 points. Tommy Johnson Jr. is in 12th place in a Monte Carlo with 590 points and Ron Capps is 13th with 521. John Force leads the Funny Car field with 1,132 points.


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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Greg Anderson , Ron Krisher , Larry Morgan , Cruz Pedregon , Bruce Allen , Tim Wilkerson , Phil Burkart , Jason Line , Rickie Smith , Dave Connolly , Mike Edwards , Steve J , Tommy Johnson Jr.