Chris Ricketts returned to Brainerd International Raceway in command.
The Missourian qualified his NHRA Lucas Oils Drag Racing Series Top Alcohol Dragster No. 1 in the first round of qualifying for a series Division 5 event at the raceway Friday with a pass of 5.526 seconds at 239.56 mph.
He said he managed to click off this run among the four other racers despite losing three cylinders at the 1,000-foot mark.
In the other Top Alcohol class, Funny Car, Iowan Cy Chesterman grabbed the top spot in the field of seven with a run in 5.830 seconds at 237.96 mph.
The last time Ricketts raced at BIR was the NHRA Northstar Nationals about eight years ago. He lost in the Top Alcohol Dragster semifinals and left racing after his wife died of cancer.
He said he thought his car ran good in Friday's run.
"It shook pretty bad when it came off the (concrete pad)," he said.
His 60-foot time was .935 which he said was a pretty good time for him.
This is his third race this season. He competed at the division's opener in Topeka, Kan., in May, losing in the first round, and the national at Topeka, losing in the semifinals.
He is scheduled to run in eight to 10 more races, including the Rugged Liner NHRA Nationals at BIR in August.
For Chesterman, who has won both national and division races at the speedway in his career, he said his run was conservative.
"It was a nice soft pass nothing too aggressive," he said.
He noted the track was better than in previous years during the first round of qualifying for the divisional event.
His 60-foot time was .978 which he said was pretty good for him.
"Kind of soft from there on," he said.
One Top Alcohol Dragster pilot who had a fast 60-foot time was Californian Gary Ormsby, Jr. He clicked off a .938 before shutting off his car.
He said after the first 60 feet the tires of his dragster began loosing traction and shaking his car.
"No sense of trying to grab the brake, pedal (the accelerator) or do something stupid," he said.
Ormsby had nothing to lose considering there were only four cars racing. At most events, only the top eight racers can qualify for the final elimination rounds.
He added that if he wouldn't have lost traction, he thought he could have run a 5.50 elapsed time.
The second and third round of qualifying for the second round of the division was Saturday. The final elimination rounds start at noon today. More than 400 racers are competing in eight classes.
Scott Quick, general manager at the raceway, said more than 400 racers are competing and that he was expecting more dragsters and funny cars by Saturday.
NHRA Lucas Drag Racing Series
West Central Divsion
Brainerd International Raceway
First round qualifying
Top Alcohol Dragster -- 1. Chris Ricketts, 5.526, 239.56 mph; 2. David Wells, 5.666, 250 mph; 3. Ziggy Zikovich, 5.932, 230.69 mph; 4. Gary Ormsby, Jr., 8.198, 106.05 mph.
Top Alcohol Funny Car -- 1. Cy Chesterman, 5.830, 237.96 mph; 2. Jay Payne, 5.833, 2241.87 mph; 3. Vern Moats, 5.993, 245.11 mph; 4. Hank Coolidge, 5.995, 245.86 mph; 5. Scott McVey, 6.348, 223.90 mph; Gage Chaffee, 7.036, 171.20 mph; Kirk Williams, DQ (hit the wall).
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