Although Brian Browell lives less than an hour away from the legendary NHRA track outside of Indianapolis if you should ask him about his history for the U.S. Nationals, his first response would be "hot and cold". But if you ask him only about 2011, the response might just be "much hotter" as Browell drove his V6 Chevy powered 2008 McKinney dragster to the Competition Eliminator final, which was notably his first final ever at the event.
Indiana drag racer Brian Browell at NHRA North Central Division Summit Racing Series Finals.
Brian Browell drove his V6 Chevy powered 2008 McKinney dragster to the Competition Eliminator final
"I've qualified everywhere from number one to number sixty-four to not even qualify for the event some years," he explained of his history at Indy. "Prior to this year, my best had been to get down to four cars and I've managed to do that three times, but this was the first time I have ever made the final."
Browell, who resides in Lafayette, Indiana, notes that doing well at Indy, takes a lot of luck. "It's simply because of the length of it. You run Thursday, then you only run once on Friday and then your one run on Saturday. The conditions are always so different, it's just one of those races that can really beat you up."
It's just amazing what the competitors in Comp Eliminator, a class where your designation is based on many factors including cubic inches to weight, are able to squeeze out of their combinations. Browell makes the most of his 265 cubic inches, running numbers that would make many big block racers jump for joy. Qualifying number eight with his D/D dragster when he ran a 7.295 and doing so in the ferocious heat that the competitors were dealt during the first few days of the event.
The tremendous swing in the weather conditions greatly affected those in Comp and how they would approach each round of eliminations. During first round Saturday afternoon, the air was still very hot and most competitors in Comp didn't have to worry about taking a bite out of their index. For those such as Browell who were fortunate enough to make it past round one, by the time second round was contested, it was a whole different ballgame.
"You go from running a race where your chances of taking any index is slim to none to a race that now, well you have to protect all you can," he said. "With the way the air was during second round one Sunday night, well now you can go unbelievably too fast."
After waiting from Saturday shortly after noon to 9PM Sunday night, Browell didn't need to fret over losing any index after all. First taking a slight starting line advantage, Browell was able to back out of his dragster when his second round opponent, Dick Maris slowed drastically near half-track.
"By that time it was dark and I'm a blinder racer," Browell pointed out about round two. "So, that puts me at a distinct disadvantage because you can't really use the blinders at night. I was up there trying to get it all straight [for the tree] and I kept messing with it, trying to adjust and finally I said screw it and just counted the lights [laughs] and I went one, two, three GO!"
"I ended up having a good light and as we were going down track, as since I have a lot of roll bar padding and a HANS device, I use mirrors on my dragster," he continued. "I looked in the mirror and Dick Maris was going backwards, so I shut it off."
And the luck needed to do well at Indy, that Browell had mentioned, continued for him over the next three rounds as well. Each of his competitors, Chamness, Pritchett and Smith, all pulled up the big red light in the opposite lane and sent him to his first ever final round at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
Browell talks about his race day philosophy, "I try not to put any pressure on myself and let the pressure be on everybody else. Plus I don't look at the ladder. I don't know who I run until my wife Debra tells me, when its time."
When it came time for the final, the majority of the sportsman pairings were postponed until after the pros ran, due to a stock class car oiling the track and a tight TV schedule. This left Browell sitting in the staging lanes for well over thirty minutes, which can feel like an absolute eternity. "That probably was my demise to be honest," confessed Browell of his Comp Eliminator final outcome. "Everybody kept coming over and telling me he [Jirka Kaplan] was broke, don't do anything stupid. It's not that he won, I lost. I just gave him that win."
Browell has been a long time user of numerous K&N products, from the K&N Oil Filters to more recently the addition of the K&N Composite Dragster Scoops. "The first generation one worked great, but I noticed even a bigger difference in the performance of my combination after making the chance to the second gen scoop," Browell pointed out. "K&N's dedication to sportsman racers, if not number one, well, it's pretty darn close to it. Their products more than do the job and completely speak for themselves."
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