On Sunday, Brad Brand completed one of the strangest journeys to the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals victory circle in the 58-year history of the event.
Brand started the rain-delayed event as the crew chief for the R2B2 Racing's two turbo powered entries in the NHRA Pro Mod Series presented by ProCare Rx. When the rains pushed racing to a second weekend, driver/team owner Roger Burgess couldn't make it back to resume the race.
The figurative keys to the ProCare Rx Chevy Corvette were turned over to Brand with one opportunity to make the field.
"I really thought I'd be able to get down the track," Brand said. "The air was so good yesterday that we had more power than we've had for this car all season. I missed it pretty bad."
So bad, in fact, that Brand qualified No. 17 and initially didn't make race. Luckily, some racers who were at Lucas Oil Raceway for the first weekend, couldn't make it back for the second. Brand, as first alternate, got into the field as the No. 16 qualified car.
"We got lucky," Brand said. "I knew if we turned the power down, we'd still go fast."
Brand was fast enough to beat No. 1 qualifier Don Walsh in the first round on Sunday morning then followed it up with wins over Steve Matusek, Rickie Smith and finally Mike Castellana in the final.
"I think it's safe to say we made some good calls today," Brand said. "Good calls, great team, no parts breakages. It's a pretty nice feeling.
"We've been so close this year, I'm so glad it all came together today and Roger saying for me to treat the car like it's my own."
In the finals against Castellana, Brand made his second best pass of the day: a 5.914 second lap at 251.63 mph. Castellana shook the tires at about 100 feet and limped home with a pass of 12.763 seconds at 83.97 mph.
With the runner-up finish, Castellana moved four points ahead of Smith in the season points standings.
The NHRA Pro Mod Series continues Sept. 14-16 with the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, N.C.
Final round-by-round results for the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx portion of the 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus at Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indianapolis:
ROUND ONE -- Steve Matusek, Ford Mustang, 6.071, 232.15 def. Harold Martin, Chevy Corvette, 7.840, 126.51; Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, 6.044, 242.02 def. Pat Musi, Dodge Stratus, 6.041, 235.64; Troy Coughlin, Chevy Camaro, 5.962, 256.06 def. Adam Flamholc, Camaro, 6.007, 239.61; Todd Tutterow, Plymouth Duster, 6.015, 245.00 def. Scott Ray, Corvette, 6.053, 233.76; Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.952, 242.80 def. Clint Satterfield, Camaro, 6.166, 238.34; Brad Brand, Corvette, 5.889, 251.86 def. Don Walsh, Mustang, 5.947, 252.99; Leah Pruett, Mustang, 5.920, 248.25 def. Donald Martin, Camaro, DQ; Mike Castellana, Camaro, 5.894, 242.71 def. Shannon Jenkins, Camaro, 5.938, 239.36;
QUARTERFINALS -- Coughlin, 5.951, 251.67 def. Tutterow, 5.929, 246.17; Castellana, 5.893, 241.15 def. Farber, 6.039, 245.40; Brand, 8.191, 117.56 def. Matusek, broke;
SEMIFINALS -- Brand, 5.994, 248.57 def. Smith, 5.962, 242.19; Castellana, 7.935, 120.94 def. Coughlin, foul;
FINAL -- Brand, 5.914, 251.63 def. Castellana, 12.763, 83.97.
Point standings (top 10) for the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx following the 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus at Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indianapolis:
1. Mike Castellana, 493; 2. Rickie Smith, 489; 3. Troy Coughlin, 429; 4. Don Walsh, 428; 5. Danny Rowe, 419; 6. Leah Pruett, 379; 7. Donald Martin, 350; 8. Pete Farber, 334; 9. Kenny Lang, 303; 10. Steve Matusek, 277.
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