Success is measured differently depending on where a person or team is on their journey. For upstart Funny Car team owner and driver Chris King his most recent event, the NHRA Dodge Mile High Nationals in Denver, Colorado, was a successful event even if he had more than his fair share of struggles. In his second race of the season King qualified and also ran career best numbers but a preparation error in the pits cost him a chance at a first round victory. Despite that King and his Howards Cams/Competition Products Dodge Charger Funny Car will enter their third race of the season this weekend’s Menards NHRA Nationals Presented by PetArmor looking to keep their positive momentum going.
“I am looking forward to running career best numbers again,” said King, as he prepares to head to Topeka. “The team has some good momentum headed into the weekend and I am very positive about the work my crew chief Terry Totten has put into the race car. I feel very comfortable in the car and all those things will work together to give us a good chance for success at Heartland Park Topeka.”
In Denver during round three of qualifying, King made a 4.724 second pass at 242.15 mph, both the quickest and fastest run of his career at the time. He took what he learned in that run and then made a 4.608 second pass at 270.32 mph in the final round of qualifying, outdoing himself and setting a new personal best elapsed time and speed. Racing on the mountain of Bandimere Speedway has its own sets of challenges with thin air and tricky conditions so the move to Heartland Park Topeka and its smooth and quick surface closer to sea level has King and his crew ready to lower his career marks.
“We aren’t going out there looking to set low ET of the race or anything, but we can definitely step up and run much quicker,” said King, a full-time Chicago firefighter. “The best thing about Denver was we didn’t hurt any parts. We made some changes going into Denver that worked and we will improve on those. Dean Antonelli, crew chief for Ron Capps, was a huge help. This whole NHRA community has really been supportive of our efforts. I want to be out here full-time, so we are trying to do everything right.”
King is looking forward to the Menards NHRA Nationals Presented by PetArmor in Topeka on Aug. 11-13, but he also has his eye on a three race stretch that could set his team up for long-term success. After Topeka King plans to compete in the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd on Aug. 17-20 and then the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on Aug. 30-Sep. 4.
“Our plans now are to do well in Topeka then go back to the shop, go through everything and make any adjustments that we discovered this weekend,” said King. “We want to take everything we learned here in Topeka and be twice as good in Brainerd and then get even better for Indy.”
Before he gets too far ahead of himself King knows he has three qualifying sessions to earn a spot in the 16-Funny Car qualified field. With 17 cars on the entry list, he will have to take advantage of every run starting on Friday night under the lights. The competition level has never been higher in the Funny Car and Top Fuel classes and King relishes the challenge.
“You look at the names on the entry list and there are six guys that have won world championships and then there are three more guys that have won races this season,” said King. “There won’t be any easy rounds and I don’t want to just be out there to fill a spot. I want to make quality runs for our team and sponsor as well as the fans. I want to get into the race and then make good runs on Sunday. On race day anything can happen, you just have to put yourself in position to succeed. That is what we are striving for.”
The Nitro classes will make their first qualifying runs on Friday night at 8:00 p.m. then on Saturday they will run at 3:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. The quickest 16 Funny Cars will take to the track for the first round at 11:00 a.m. and the race will be televised nationally on FS1.