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Disappointment Dominates Chris King’s Brainerd Experience

Upstart Funny Car team owner and driver Chris King knew chasing his dream of moving from his job as a Chicago firefighter to full-time professional Funny Car would be an uphill battle. What King did not anticipate was the hill would be Mount Everest-like in nature. Through four races this season King has experienced every aspect of frustration and disappointment with flashes of success sprinkled in to maintain a glimmer of improvement and motivation. This weekend at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway King made two qualifying passes but was unable to make the 16-car Funny Car field, damaging his motor beyond repair in the third qualifying session on Saturday.

“We had a plan coming into this weekend with our Howards Cams/Competition Parts Funny Car and Terry Totten’s Top Fuel dragster,” said King. “We were going to get Terry’s Top Fuel dragster in the show on Friday and then turn our attention to my Funny Car for the rest of the sessions. We just go behind the eight ball after the Friday night session and then on Saturday during the first session we kicked the rods out. I am so disappointed.”
 
During the past two national events King had been making positive strides running multiple personal best times and speeds at the Mile High Nationals in Denver where he qualified No. 14. Last weekend in Topeka at the Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor King narrowly missed the field qualifying No. 17 but additional personal best runs had the team hopeful for success this weekend in Brainerd.
 
“I knew this would be a little bit of a risk, but we thought we were moving in the right direction after Denver and Topeka,” said King. “We just needed to keep improving and I felt we would get into the show. I don’t have a full-time crew so we can’t afford any major setbacks. Unfortunately, that is really all we had this weekend was one setback after another. I want to thank all our sponsors and the fans that stopped by this weekend. We are going to head back to the shop and evaluate our next move.”
 
King made his debut in 2021 and took 2022 off to reset his program to compete in a handful of key NHRA national events this season that benefited his existing sponsors and showed opportunities to potential sponsors. Through the 2023 season King has participated in fan autograph sessions, pre-race sponsor events and a wide variety of media interviews. Well regarded by his fellow competitors King worked to put a quality product on the track as he was developing his program.
 
“I know we are building a program and we don’t have a big fancy 18-wheeler or hospitality,” said King. “We make sure our stuff looks good and we present ourselves as professionals. I don’t want to be a guy that comes out here just to screw around. We want to get better and qualify. That is what makes this weekend so tough, and I just really need to see what our next steps are.”
 
King’s two runs this weekend were a 4.701 second pass at 248.34 mph on Friday night and then a 15.687 second pass where King pedaled his Funny Car and coasted to the finish line at 31.77 mph. Neither of those runs were representative passes for King’s operation. The next NHRA national event, the Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals, will be contested at Lucas Oil Raceway, August 31 – September 4.

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