When drivers in Brainerd International Raceway’s Bracket Drag Racing Series take to the drag strip this weekend for the series’ first race, fans can expect some long-standing battles to be renewed.
Keith Allen Larson and Darren Arnold, for example, have been slugging it out for four years at the top of the Comp Trophy point standings. They’ve taken turns winning the class and finishing runner-up – Arnold won the class in 2008 and 2009, with Larson taking second, and Larson won the class the last two years, with Arnold finishing second.
This year, Arnold and the rest of the Comp Trophy field will have their sights set on Larson as he tries to “three-peat.”
Larson, Arnold and more than 300 other drag racers will kick off the drag racing season this weekend during the first of six Bracket Drag Racing Series events. Friday is a Test and Tune day for drivers who want to get time behind the wheel before qualifying starts Saturday.
Elimination rounds are Sunday. Racing starts at 9 a.m. each day. Gates open at 5 p.m. Thursday.
During the brackets series, fans can see dragsters, cars, trucks, motorcycles, snowmobiles and junior dragsters. There are 10 different classes: Super Pro, Pro ET, Sportsman, Pro Bike/Sled, Stock/Super Stock, Comp Trophy, Street Trophy and three Junior Dragster classes. Drivers earn 100 points for competing and another 100 points for winning each elimination round. Bonus points go to winners, runners-up and semifinalists.
“We’re looking forward to another great season for the Bracket Drag Racers this year,” BIR owner Jed Copham said in a news release. “Winter is too long for most of these racers, so they come to the first race and can’t wait to get racing again. It’s a lot of fun for fans and even more fun for the racers and their families.”
On Saturday, fans can watch drag racing or move to the Competition Road Course where the BIR Performance Driving School is taking place. The road course will be busy with drivers honing their skills in their own cars or in the track’s Spec Racers. Saturday night, fans will be treated to music by DJ At Large in BIR’s Wheelie Bar and Grille starting at 9 p.m.
One racer who has a target on his back again this season is Ben Line, who started a new winning streak last year in the Stock/Super Stock Class. He won three championships in a row before Scott Dugdale wrestled the championship away from him in 2010.
Last year, Line and Terry Johnson battled at the top of the standings all year until car problems sidelined Johnson in Race 4. Line claimed the No. 1 spot that weekend and never gave it up.
Dave Engler won the Pro ET Class despite entering the final race in ninth place. He won the final race, which earned him enough points to claim the championship and heads into this weekend as the guy to beat. The Pro ET Class is always is one of the largest classes — 64 drivers were in the points race last year, and another 30 or 40 competed each weekend.
The Super Pro Class is also one of the largest, with 90-100 drivers pairing up each weekend. Terry Pease didn’t win a Super Pro race last year, and yet consecutive second-place finishes were enough to put him in first going into the final weekend. He lost in the second round but had just enough points to beat runner-up Dave Ulhorn.
Last year’s Sportsman Class was wide open going into the final race, as 16 points separated the top three racers. Brad Mickle sat in fourth place and lost in the quarterfinals but earned enough points to leapfrog the logjam at the top of the standings and claim the series title.
Going into the final race, defending Pro Bike/Sled series champ Mike Voss was sitting in good position to repeat last year. He had a 400-point lead over second-place Jeff Arpin and appeared to be headed for another title. But Voss raced in Georgia during the final race and couldn’t make it back to BIR in time for Sunday’s elimination rounds. Arpin took advantage of Voss’ misfortune and won the race, beating Voss in the standings by 20 points.
In Street Trophy, Sandy Luberda claimed the top spot in the point standings last year after winning the second race and stayed there all season, holding off Kayla Noyes at the end of the season to claim the series championship.
In Junior Dragster Advanced, Haley Heintzman tried to repeat as series champion but couldn’t get past Max Gust, who won the title. Gust’s younger brother, Zach, won the Junior Dragster Intermediate title, and Garrett Lindquist won three of the five races and added a runner-up finish to claim the series championship in Junior Dragster Novice.