Brainerd: Mark Whisnant preview

Whisnant heads for the north woods of Brainerd. BRAINERD, Minn. -- This weekend Mark Whisnant, driver of the RW Performance Pro Stock Chevrolet Cavalier, will make his first trip to the Minnesota woodlands for the 21st running of the Rugged...

Whisnant heads for the north woods of Brainerd.

BRAINERD, Minn. -- This weekend Mark Whisnant, driver of the RW Performance Pro Stock Chevrolet Cavalier, will make his first trip to the Minnesota woodlands for the 21st running of the Rugged Liner NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn.

After the 'western swing' Whisnant finds himself holding the 10th position on the NHRA POWERade Pro Stock points standings. As he and his RW Performance team heads into the back side of the 2002 POWERade season, his attention is focused on remaining in step with the Pro Stock field, and not loosing the toe hold he has on the top ten.

"We are sitting in a pretty shaky position right now," said Whisnant of Stockbridge, Ga. "Being in the top 10 in points is nice, but I think keeping it will be the real trick.

"Right now Number 7 and Number 14 is split by only a couple of rounds. We know that if we have more situations where we go out in the first round, or DNQ, we will be out of the points. Some people may not think that being in the top ten right now is such a big deal, but for this team, it is huge.

"It is very expensive to run one of these Pro Stock car. We have done very well with what we have, but no one can afford to do this out of their own pocket for very long.

"Right now we are searching very hard for a sponsor for this car, and our second car. Companies want to sponsor a car that is going to win so they can get the most from their advertising dollar. From that respect, it is critical for us to make a good showing every week and stay up there in the points, so our team can be a good product for a sponsor to be associated with.

"The fact that we are going out there every weekend and running well against teams with a lot bigger budgets is really an accomplishment, and my guys are to be commended for doing such a good job. If you race every weekend you know that, but it does not always relate well over the phone to a potential sponsor who may not know the sport very well. So at this stage of the game it is twice as important that we stay in the top ten, make a good showing every weekend, and be the kind of professional race team that a sponsor can be proud of.

Whisnant talked about his plan for this weekends Rugged Liner NHRA Nationals, and the remainder of the 2002 POWERade season.

"We would like to step up our pace at little bit for the rest of the season. I think if we can win a race or two, continue qualifying well, and go rounds on Sunday, we could end up in the top five at the end of the season. But to do that, we will need to be very strong at the next eight races.

"This weekend we will use Brainerd to get ready for Indy. Again, I have never raced this racetrack before. It was the same with the three western swing tracks, and we did fairly well out west. So, we will use the same strategy we used out west: wait and see what we have when we get there, and tune the car one lap at a time.

"Just like staying in the top ten; it sounds easy, the trick is doing it."

Qualifying at the 21st Annual Rugged Liner NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., will begin on Friday Aug. 16, and continue on Saturday Aug. 17. Eliminations will take place on Sunday Aug. 18 at 11:00 AM EST.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mark Whisnant