The NHRA Federal Mogul Drag Racing Series West Central Division event at the Colonel's Brainerd International Raceway has always featured heavy hitters in the Funny Car class.
Heavy hitters have included 15-time division champion Vern Moats and Cy Chesterman, who clicked off the second-fastest speed in the class, 259.71 mph, in a national event.
For this weekend's event at CBIR, Moats and Chesterman will be joined by Californian Jay Payne, the current Series Funny Car national points leader with two national event wins and the reigning Southeast Division Funny Car points champion.
Payne's most recent win was over Moats' 2000 Pontiac Firebird at the national event in Topeka May 27. Payne clicked off an elapsed time of 5.763 seconds at 248.11 mph to Moats' 5.788 at 248.75 mph. Payne's reaction time was .488 compared to Moats' .566.
Payne also has won once and was runner-up twice in Southeast Division events this season.
He made history with his first national event win at Gainesville March 18, becoming the seventh racer to win both Federal Mogul Dragster and Funny Car national titles.
Payne defeated last season's national champion, Frank Manzo, by 0.005 seconds or about 22 inches. Payne switched to Funny Cars in 1999 after winning 17 national dragster finals.
Payne, who has been racing at CBIR since 1988, said he decided to race at Brainerd because it wasn't too far "out of the way" on his way home from Chicago. He raced his 2001 Chevrolet Camaro in the NHRA national event in Chicago from May 31 through June 3, qualifying No. 1 but losing in the second round.
He added that this weekend's event is a "great tune up" for CBIR's national event in which he will compete in August.
"(Brainerd) is a nice place and I like the area," he said. "It's a nice track."
This will be only the second time that Payne has raced in a divisional event at CBIR. Last year he lost in round two in the national event. Two years ago he was the event's runner-up.
Payne said he has no idea how he will do because of a rule change instituted this season that decreases horsepower by restricting the engine's blower overdrive.
Payne said this rule has meant he has been slowed down by more than 30 percent. He added that the engines do not perform well in warm weather.
When informed the weekend's weather could be in the high 70s or 80s, he said his car will run slow.
"If we run (elapsed times of about 5.85 seconds) we'll probably do very good," Payne said.
-- Chesterman is the event's defending champion in Funny Car and Iowan Dave Wells is the event's defending champion in Dragster.
-- Funny Car entrants registered by Tuesday included reigning division points champion Randy Fleming, Moats, Chesterman and Kurt Prososki.
-- Dragster entrants registered by Tuesday include reigning division points champion Bruce Bowler and Ed Scheekle.
-- Qualifying for Funny Car and Dragster starts at 4 p.m. Friday. Two more qualifying sessions for the classes will be Saturday at 1 and 4 p.m. Eliminations start at noon Sunday.
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