For Australian Pro Stock racer Shane Tucker his return to the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series has been a tough battle. Tucker, who has the full season backing of UrPay, an Australian-owned payment processing company that is moving into the US market, on his Chevrolet Camaro has competed in every national event this season, but he broke through this weekend at the Gerber Collision & Glass NHRA Nationals. At every event this season Tucker and his Rob Tucker tuned Chevrolet Camaro has improved and been competitive in qualifying, but they just could not string together a top 16 quick run. This weekend Tucker powered his UrPay Chevrolet into the race as the No. 14 qualifier in a tough field of 20 competitors.
“We took some big strides in the right direction this weekend,” said Tucker. “We’ve just had so much bad luck with parts breaking and whatnot. It was good to get a decent clean run down the track and get some data we can work with. We have a good team. They’re all very experienced and we have World Championships.”
In the opening round Tucker knew he would need to steal some real estate on the starting line and the veteran driver took a strong starting line reaction time advantage of .019 to .040 over former world champion Bo Butner. Both Camaros were welded together going down the track but Tucker’s racecar fell off on the performance side just slightly opening the door for Butner to advance to the quarterfinals.
“I knew I had to be better than him on the starting line because he’d been outrunning us every run,” said Tucker. “I managed to be a little bit better on the start line, but we were just not quite there. We probably missed it slightly on the setup, but I think all in all, it’s been a positive weekend.”
For Tucker who has raced successfully in his home country of Australia and has competed at the highest levels here in the United States the current competition level in Pro Stock is a welcome challenge. Throughout his career in racing and business Tucker has risen to the challenge.
“The fields these days are separated by less than six hundredths. It is so competitive,” said Tucker. “You go out there in round one and there’s legitimately 16 cars that can win the event, which I think is cool. The fans love it. It gives all the drivers extra motivation to make sure they do their job. I’m super proud of our team to be involved in a 16-car field where it’s that tight. You know, we’re just a bunch of misfits. It’s great to have an opportunity.”
The team was also impressed with the high number of fans in attendance and the look of the stadium style Route 66 Raceway. Tucker has competed here in the past, but the sheer size of the facility combined with a packed set of grandstands still captured Tucker’s attention.
“This track has a stadium-like sort of feel,” said Tucker. “This has to be how the Coliseum might have felt right back in the day for the gladiators. I love this place. It was really great to have Chris Thompson, the CEO of UrPay, and his wife here to see what the NHRA is all about. I’ve always loved this place. I’ve had good success here. Just seeing the fans turn out in droves has been cool.”