FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 PRESSURE IS ON FOR FUNNY CAR, PRO STOCK BIKE RACERS AT BRAINERD BRAINERD, Minn. -- There's a lot more at stake for some NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series competitors at...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761
PRESSURE IS ON FOR FUNNY CAR, PRO STOCK BIKE RACERS AT BRAINERD BRAINERD, Minn. -- There's a lot more at stake for some NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series competitors at the Champion Auto Stores Nationals than meets the eye. Sure, event winners in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn glory, prestige and five-figure padding for their wallets. That's obvious. It's also clear that pursuers of runaway points leaders Gary Scelzi in Top Fuel, John Force in Funny Car and Matt Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle must have a strong race while hoping that the leaders falter. But what's not so evident is that the 16th annual, $1,425,050 Champion Auto Stores Nationals, Aug. 14-17 at scenic Brainerd International Raceway, can be one of the most important and pressure- packed races of the season for a handful of Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle competitors. The race is the 15th event of the 22-event, $30- million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series in 1997. The Champion Auto Stores Nationals is the last race this season in which Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle racers can earn points toward their respective special events, the Big Bud Shootout and The Wax Shop Pro Bike Dash. Both of those races take place during the U.S. Nationals, Aug. 27-Sept. 1 at Indianapolis, the next NHRA national event after the annual stop at Brainerd. Racers earn points for special events during qualifying, and only the top eight points earners since last September will earn spots in the lucrative races. The Big Bud Shootout winner will take home $100,000, while The Wax Shop Pro Bike Dash winner will earn $15,000. They're the richest races of the year for both categories. The biggest struggle at Brainerd often comes between racers fighting for the last spot in their respective special event field. Qualifiers for the Shootout or Dash earn a chance at thousands of dollars and also receive valuable exposure for sponsors during live television broadcasts to millions of fans. Non-qualifiers get nothing. That stark contrast intensifies the level of competition during qualifying at Brainerd, as teams push their machines to the limit to get a spot in the special show. Drivers safely qualified for the Shootout and Dash still place heavy importance on the Champion Auto Stores Nationals, because they can earn a higher seed in the special-event field with a strong qualifying performance at Brainerd. While qualifying has heavy impact for Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle racers at Brainerd, final eliminations take on a special significance for all categories. The stretch run begins here, as the NHRA season enters its final third. If history is any indication, this event should serve as a springboard toward NHRA Winston championships. Seventeen of the 26 pro winners at this event since 1990 went on to win Winston titles the same season. That could be a harbinger of success at Brainerd for Scelzi, Force, Jim Yates and Hines. After 12 races this season, Scelzi led Top Fuel by 190 points, Force led Funny Car by 152, Yates led Pro Stock by 64, and Hines was atop Pro Stock Motorcycle by 152. *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 2 p.m. Aug. 15 and continues at 6 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at noon and 4 p.m. Aug. 16. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. Aug. 17. Federal-Mogul competition starts at noon Aug. 14. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the Champion Auto Stores Nationals. Call Brainerd International Raceway at (612) 475-1500. *On TV: ESPN2 will televise two hours of live, final-round competition from the Champion Auto Stores Nationals at 4 p.m. (CDT) Aug. 17. ESPN also will show two hours of live, Friday-evening qualifying at 6:30 p.m. (CDT) Aug. 15. -30- 7/21/97-BM1-110