BRAINERD, Minn. – Top Fuel racer Khalid alBalooshi powers into the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in his second season in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and is poised for more success in the 8,000-horsepower category.
AlBalooshi raced his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to his first win of the season in July at Norwalk when he defeated Doug Kalitta in the finals for his second career victory and first since Reading in 2012.
“We had been looking to win a race for a long time,” alBalooshi said. “Since last season when we won the first race, I kept thinking, ‘When will we win another one?’ When you get that feeling about winning the race, it is something good that you want to do again and again and again. Finally, I did it this year, but I hope we keep doing it more and more.”
AlBalooshi, currently sixth in Top Fuel points, also raced his Jason McCulloch-tuned dragster to a final round appearance in Englishtown, but came up short to his teammate, series points leader Shawn Langdon, in that final round appearance. Team manager Alan Johnson guides both drivers during the season and has influenced and inspired alBalooshi.
“When you win, you do something very important,” he continued. “Especially when you work with a big team like Al-Anabi with Sheikh Khalid and Alan Johnson. You keep thinking this team wins championships and that you want to put the team back in the same position where the team has been before. We are having a good season, and I am having fun this year.”
AlBalooshi and all of the teams in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series are determined to earn a victory at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Aug. 15-18, the 17th of 24 events in the 2013 season and the penultimate race in the 18-event regular season. Last season, Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) earned victories at the event. ESPN2 HD will once again provide television coverage of the event.
When alBalooshi won the Norwalk event he not only took home the coveted NHRA Wally, he also earned the opportunity to compete in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. This lucrative bonus event features the finest eight competitors in Top Fuel, and making the field was one of his goals going into the season.
“The Traxxas Shootout is very important for me,” he said. “I realized watching it last year that it was something important because these are the eight fastest cars in the show. You need to be one of these cars, and our Al-Anabi team is one of the fastest cars.”
AlBalooshi, the 2011 NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series world champion, is teamed with Langdon, who is having a career-best year with four wins. These teammates share information and Langdon and alBalooshi combine to make one of the most dangerous teams during eliminations.
“I ask him questions; One of the easy ones, I asked him about the burnout,” alBalooshi said. “When I drove Pro Mod, when the track is hot, I make a short burnout – should I do that in Top Fuel? I can ask Alan Johnson, I can ask Jason or I can ask Shawn. Shawn tells me when he drove Super Comp, he made a short burnout if the track was hot so he asked Alan if he should do that in Top Fuel. Alan told him go do his normal burnout and don’t think about the track. Make the same burnout every time, so he helped me learn about that.”
“Shawn is also helping me learn how to stage the car and how to put the car in the groove. One of the biggest things in this sport is putting the car in the groove and keeping it there until the finish line. The car can be running good, but if it gets a little bit out of the groove, it will smoke the tires.”
AlBalooshi will attempt to secure his first Brainerd win during the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals and along with teammate Langdon, the duo will be two of the toughest cars in the field. Tony Schumacher has three wins at the facility and looks to rebound after two consecutive first round losses. Morgan Lucas, Antron Brown and Doug Kalitta also have wins at the historic venue and will again vie to hoist the NHRA Wally at the completion of the event.
Matt Hagan holds the points lead in Funny Car and will attempt to keep Cruz Pedregon, who is second in the points, behind him and secure the No. 1 position for the Countdown to the Championship. Defending winner and three time BIR winner Capps along with John Force, Del Worsham, Jack Beckman, Johnny Gray and Country Force will also be among the top competitors at the race.
Minnesota natives and multi-time NHRA Pro Stock world champions, Greg Anderson and Jason Line, will compete at a track where they raced while honing their skills in their early years of competition. Anderson has three Pro Stock wins at the track while Line has yet to taste victory at the track in a professional category. Series points leader Mike Edwards, Jeg Coughlin, Vincent Nobile and Allen Johnson will all attempt to spoil the homecoming party for the two local favorites.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. No other sport offer fans an up close and personal experience like NHRA. Fans can stand within several feet of the crews as they crank up their high-horsepower machines.
For those wanting to make it a family affair, BIR and NHRA are offering an incredible ticket offer: Children 12 and younger will receive free general admission with a paid adult all weekend. Make sure to visit NHRA's popular Nitro Alley, where manufacturers and sponsors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and freebies.
Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals qualifying opens on Friday, Aug. 16, with sessions at 3 and 5:30 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, Aug. 17, at noon and 2:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18.
For a sneak preview of the event, NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series fans in Minneapolis will have an opportunity to meet popular Top Fuel drivers Brandon Bernstein and Morgan Lucas during an exclusive autograph session and meet and greet at the Mall of America. The autograph session will take place at the West Market Square within the Mall of America from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 14.
To purchase tickets, call Brainerd Raceway at (866) 444-4455 or visit www.brainerdraceway.com. For more information about NHRA, please visit www.NHRA.com.
* * *
LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 32nd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, the 17th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in three categories - Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock - earn points leading to 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Brainerd International Raceway and Resort, Brainerd, Minn. Track is located a few miles north of the Brainerd area off Highway 371. The track is located on the east side of the highway.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 15-18.
THURSDAY, Aug. 15 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
FRIDAY, Aug. 16 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 3 and 5:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, Aug. 17 - LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at noon and 2:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, Aug. 18 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, Aug. 17, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 11 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Aug. 18, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours of coverage starting at 9 p.m. (ET).
SATELLITE (Digital HD feed):
Friday, Aug. 16, 8:30 – 9 p.m. (ET), SES 2 / Transponder 06C
Saturday, Aug. 17, 6 – 6:30 p.m. (ET), SES 2 / Transponder 06C
Sunday, Aug. 18, 7 – 7:30 p.m. (ET), SES 2 / Transponder 06C
(3820 MHz, vertical; Data Rate: 40.46147055 Mbp; Symbol Rate: 29.27 Ms; FEC: ¾; Bandwidth: 36 Mhz)
Video news release contains race action highlights each day and winners’ interviews on Sunday.
2012 EVENT WINNERS: Morgan Lucas, Top Fuel; Ron Capps, Funny Car; Erica Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock; Eddie Krawiec, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: John Force, 11, FC; Joe Amato, 6, TF; Kenny Bernstein, 5, FC/TF; Antron Brown, 5, TF/PSM; Jeg Coughlin, 4, PS; Warren Johnson, 4, PS; Kurt Johnson, 4, PS; Bob Glidden, 4, PS; Bruce Allen, 4, PS.
Top Fuel - 3.773 seconds by Khalid alBalooshi, Aug. ’12; 327.90 mph by Morgan Lucas, Aug. ’12.
Funny Car - 4.018 seconds by Jack Beckman, Aug. ’12; 316.75 mph by Johnny Gray, Aug. ’12.
Pro Stock - 6.542 sec. by Erica Enders-Stevens, Aug. ’12; 210.87 mph by Allen Johnson, Aug. ’12.
Top Fuel - 3.701 sec. by Antron Brown, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 332.18 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’12, Charlotte, N.C.
Funny Car - 3.986 sec. by Jack Beckman, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 320.58 mph by Beckman, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.
Pro Stock - 6.471 sec. by Mike Edwards, April ’13, Charlotte, N.C.; 214.35 mph by Jason Line, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.
TICKETS: Order tickets by phone at (866) 444-4455. Tickets also are available online at www.brainerdraceway.com.
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, Calif. -- Point standings (top 10) following the 15th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series -
Top Fuel: 1. Shawn Langdon, 1,292; 2. Tony Schumacher, 1,145; 3. Spencer Massey, 1,140; 4. Antron Brown, 958; 5. Doug Kalitta, 956; 6. Khalid alBalooshi, 920; 7. Morgan Lucas, 884; 8. Clay Millican, 822; 9. Bob Vandergriff, 758; 10. Steve Torrence, 741.
Funny Car: 1. Matt Hagan, 1,151; 2. Cruz Pedregon, 1,034; 3. Ron Capps, 1,017; 4. John Force, 996; 5.Johnny Gray, 991; 6. Courtney Force, 983; 7. Jack Beckman, 951; 8. Tim Wilkerson, 877; 9. Bob Tasca III, 874; 10. Robert Hight, 841.
Pro Stock: 1. Mike Edwards, 1,421; 2. Allen Johnson, 1,333; 3. Jeg Coughlin, 1,241; 4. Vincent Nobile, 1,032; 5. Shane Gray, 999; 6. Jason Line, 955; 7. Greg Anderson, 894; 8. V. Gaines, 778; 9. Erica Enders-Stevens, 743; 10. Rodger Brogdon, 692.