Brainerd: Series round 17 preview

FINAL COUNTDOWN POSITIONS ARE UP FOR GRABS IN ALL FOUR FULL THROTTLE SERIES CLASSES AT LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS BRAINERD, Minn. -- There are 10 positions up for grabs in the Countdown to 1 as NHRA teams head to the final stop in the ...


BRAINERD, Minn. -- There are 10 positions up for grabs in the Countdown to 1 as NHRA teams head to the final stop in the 17-race regular season, the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals (Aug. 12-15) at Brainerd International Raceway.

Two spots remain in Top Fuel as three drivers will battle for the positions. Only 10th place is open in the highly-competitive Funny Car category and three drivers want it. In Pro Stock, two spots are available and four drivers are eligible. In the two-wheel category, five positions are unsecured and seven drivers are still mathematically alive.

Drama is sure to be high and the competition intense as NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series teams push the throttle to the floor in order to grab one of the remaining spots for the Countdown to 1, NHRA's six-race championship playoffs. The Countdown to 1 starts Sept. 1-6 at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis with the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, the world's most prestigious drag race.

In Top Fuel, the spotlight for the final playoff berths will be on Kalitta Air dragster driver Dave Grubnic and Terry McMillen, who drives the Amalie Oil dragster. Grubnic holds the 10th spot after a first round win at Denver. He leads McMillen by 19 points. Ninth-place Steve Torrence, who can control his own playoff destiny by qualifying and earning a first-round victory, holds a 64-point lead over Grubnic.

Two-time world champion Tony Pedregon is clinging to a 33-point lead as the 10th place driver in Funny Car. DHL Toyota driver Jeff Arend is in 11th and has his sights set on bumping out Pedregon's NitroFish Chevy Impala. The wildcard in the mix is two-time world champ Cruz Pedregon, who advanced to the semis at Denver and has his Snap-on Tools Toyota running strong at the end of the regular season. He is 81 points back and needs to win the race to have any chance while he needs his younger brother and Arend to lose in the first round.

In Pro Stock, 11th place Kurt Johnson needs a last-second hail mary in order to keep his 17-year top-10 points finish streak alive. The second-generation driver has never finished outside the top-10 in his career, which started in 1993. He trails 10th place driver Rodger Brogdon by 80 points. Brogdon is 34 back of ninth place Johnny Gray. Bob Yonke also is a longshot to make the playoffs, as he is just behind Johnson in 12th, 84 points behind 10th place. With a maxium of 150 points on the table for any driver, Johnson and Yonke will need to get close to that ceiling and hope that Gray and Brogdon struggle if they want to be racing for the title in the fall.

It promises to be a wild shoot-out in Pro Stock Motorcycle as there could be a lot of shuffling among the final five positions. Realistically, 11th place Shawn Gann and 12th place Jim Underdahl would need a couple of DNQs among the five drivers ahead of them in the standings to have a chance at making the top 10. Eddie Krawiec, rookie LE Tonglet, David Hope, Denver runner-up Karen Stoffer and veteran rider Craig Treble are the riders that currently hold down positions 5-10. Gann trails Treble by 57 points, while Underdahl is 89 back of Treble.

* SCHEDULE: Full Throttle Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2:45 and 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 13 and 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. on Aug. 14. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 15.

* TICKETS: Tickets are available for the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals. Tickets can only be purchased at the Brainerd International Raceway front gate. Tickets are not available for purchase by telephone or online.

* ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 11 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, Aug. 14. ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise NHRA Race Day, a 30-minute race preview show, at 10 a.m. (ET) on Sunday, Aug. 15. Also on Aug. 15, ESPN2 HD will televise three hours of eliminations coverage beginning at 10 p.m. (ET).

* LUCAS OIL SERIES: The Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals also will feature competition in several categories in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series, where the future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Series are born. Lucas Oil Series qualifying begins at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 12 and eliminations begin at 9:15 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 14 and continue Sunday, Aug. 15.

-source: nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Shawn Gann , Craig Treble , Karen Stoffer , Johnny Gray , Bob Yonke , Rodger Brogdon , Jeff Arend , Eddie Krawiec , David Hope , LE Tonglet , Jim Underdahl , Terry McMillen