In their fourth event of the 2014 season, Team Co-Line/Goalsetter was in hot pursuit of a their first win at the NHRA Kansas Nationals in Heartland Park Topeka. While mother nature tried to dampen things with a 2nd round qualifying session rain out on Friday and a third qualifying session rainout Saturday along with several more rain delays during the event, Dale Brand and crew stayed focused.
Brand, with only one qualifying pass under his belt, qualified fourth in a 16-car Top Alcohol Funny Car Field with a 5.656 elapsed time quarter mile pass.
In round one, #4 qualified Brand faced #13 qualified John Lombardo, Jr of Brea, CA. Lombardo shook the tires hard at the hit while Brand went right down the groove in 5.694 seconds at 255.29 mph.
On Sunday, eliminations continued with round two facing Brand against veteran racer Jay Payne of Claremont, CA. Brand had the quicker reaction time and never looked back, clocking a 5.634 second quarter-mile pass at 254.33 mph to Payne’s losing 5.720 at 250.97 mph.
In the semi-finals, Brand took on Doug Gordon of Paso Robles, CA, the first time this pair had faced each other in eliminations. Brand again had the starting line advantage and pulled away throughout the run with a winning 5.673 elapsed time at 252.14 mph to Gordon’s 5.677 at 253.90 mph. Brand wins by approximately six feet.
In the finals, another first time match-up between Brand and Brian Hough of Junction City, OR. Brand was 0-3 in final round match-ups still looking for his first NHRA National event win while Hough had seven wins, five in Top Alcohol Funny Car and two in Top Alcohol Dragster. Brand straps a big hole shot on Hough and then outruns him to earn Team Co-Line/Goalsetter their first National Event win. Crew Chief Eric Brand knew he needed to make a tune-up change for the final round. “The car was not responding well and was slowing each round” said Brand. The changeup worked and the Co-Line/Goalsetter team recorded a quick 5.639 at 255.58 mph to Hough’s losing 5.689 at 251.39 mph.
“When I was 38 years old, Tana and I were sitting in the stands at Heartland Park Raceway in Topeka Kansas,” remembers Brand. “We were spectators at a NHRA National event, and I said to Tana ‘Before I am 40 years old, I am going to run an Alcohol Funny Car,’ (She thought I was crazy!) The next year we bought our first funny car, got licensed in Scribner, Nebraska and started competing in IHRA. A mire blink of time later, we have won several national events in IHRA and some divisional events in NHRA. This past weekend was our first national event win in NHRA, it really feels good!”
Team members for the weekend included Dale, Tana, and Eric Brand, Marty Van Wyk, and deWayne and Tina Lemons along with several home crowd spectators at one of the closest events Team Co-Line/Goalsetter will race at this year. Coverage of the Topeka event win is scheduled to air on ESPN2 on Saturday, May 31st at 8:30 a.m. The team will be back in action at a North Central Divisional event at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, IL on June 6-8.
“There is more passion and competitive spirit in the Alcohol Funny Car class than ever, with several very hard running teams and cars. I am so proud of Team Co-Line/Goalsetter as everyone performed their responsibilities flawlessly for us to go the distance in four rounds of eliminations for the win!” concluded a very excited Brand.