If you like spouting off statistics while hanging out at the water cooler, then Dan Fletcher's professional sportsman drag racing career will give you plenty to talk about and to keep up with from one race to the next. Fletcher's latest NHRA National event win, at Brainerd International Raceway for the 31st Annual Lucas Oil Nationals, made it number seventy-eight of his career and now an even forty in Super Stock. The numbers don't stop there for the K&N standout from the state of New York. The facility has been quite a producer for Fletcher over the years and his latest feat made it six wins and three of those in the Super Stock category.
Dan Fletcher's latest NHRA National event win made it number seventy-eight of his career and an even forty in Super Stock.
How about more outstanding numbers? In addition to Super Stock, Fletcher competes in several different NHRA categories including Stock Eliminator, Competition Eliminator and sometimes you'll even see him behind the wheel of a long skinny car running in the 8.90 Super Comp index class. While he's had over a handful of victories this season, he's now notched another three NHRA National Event wins in Super Stock alone and in acquiring his most recent, there were a lot of numbers that stacked up nicely in Fletcher's column.
Drag Racing's Dan Fletcher wins Super Stock at Brainerd International Raceway in the 31st Annual Lucas Oil Nationals
When it came to Super Stock qualifying, Fletcher points out that while his ultimate position may have been good in the end, it wasn't really where he had tried to place himself. "I made one strategic error," he admitted. "I don't have a good motor in my car right now and it was supposed to be done this week so I could have it for Indy, but it won't be and therefore qualifying for Super Stock in Indy may be a chore. But the error I made in qualifying is that there was another â€˜I-automatic' [SS/IA] car there and had I known that, I could have been in a different class."
"I kinda screwed up my scouting report, if you will," he continued. "So going into the last session, I'm sitting there with my iPad on my lap and a qualifying sheet and all my numbers I have written down from everyone and at that point I was quite sure that I wanted to hold it wide open, so it should put me on the opposite side of the ladder from this other same class car, but if I was wrong by one car, then I would have had him first round. I lost my guts at the last second and hit the brakes, because I knew whether I was right or wrong by a few spots that I would at least be away from him for several rounds."
A meeting with the same class car would have turned into a heads-up run for Fletcher and not something he was comfortable doing with the current motor he had in his 1969 K&N Chevy Camaro.
All a numbers game, Fletcher confessed that he could have "got greedy" to try to get exactly where he had hoped to on the sheet for race day, but that it all worked out well in the end. "That other same class car went out early, so then I had clear sailing in a bracket race style event. I drove okay and the car ran well."
Fletcher easily first sent home Douglas Baumgardner and his SS/DA '69 Camaro with a much better light and set up for a round two pairing with David Goldie, who made Fletcher work for it at the stripe after getting a .018 starting line advantage. By now the multi-time champion was on a roll and next lined his brightly painted K&N Camaro up to take on Brent Mandery in round three. This time Fletcher took a large chunk at the tree and turned it into a win light to earn the scheduled bye in the quarter finals.
Where he made not have been super pleased with his qualifying position at the start of eliminations, things were really starting to fall into place for Fletcher and in the semifinal round his competition, A. J. Covert seemed to have a major malfunction in the other lane and went .140 red, allowing Fletcher to take a free lap down the quarter into the Super Stock championship round.
Ron Roddel would be waiting to take on Fletcher for the Super Stock Wally and in a good example of the "first or worst" rule, Fletcher would come out on the winning side all thanks to being the quicker dialed car and getting to leave the line second. Roddel with his '02 Grand Am was dialed a 10.79 and would get the handicap start to Fletcher's 10.43 dial. Both driver's kicked on the red-light by the slightest of margins, but since Roddel left first, only his red-light [-.003] would show on the tree and the win light on in Fletcher's lane.
"I got tremendously lucky in the final with my opponent three thou red and I'm two thou red right behind him," said Fletcher. "Even though I knew I won I wasn't sure if they had given away the Perfectly Strange award yet [for running right on your dial], so I went ahead and drive it on through and then when I got down there tried to drop my three hundredths at the stripe to see if I could run dead-on [laughs]."
"For whatever reason that I can't really put my finger on, I have been very successful at that facility and Brainerd has treated me very well," he added. "Last year it was my Stock Eliminator car that I did very well with during the year. This year it seems to be the Super Stock car, since I picked up three National wins, so far."
With many events yet to go for the 2012 season, the K&N racer hopes to reach the next milestone on his list before the year closes out and that would be to reach eighty career NHRA National Event wins. His next chance to add to his total will be the U.S. Nationals just outside of Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend.
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