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Doug Gordon Races to ‘Emotional’ Win in Top Alcohol Funny Car at Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals

Photo by Melanie Johnson

It was an emotional weekend for the Gordon family returning to the site of the 2022 wreck that almost curbed their NHRA National Championship campaign that year. Doug’s victory at the 2023 Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway continued his winning streak, he has now won three consecutive National events. 

The team overcame some challenges that seemed to keep piling up as they were trying to qualify well in the seven-car Top Alcohol Funny Car field. During the first qualifying run Friday, Doug completed the burnout but realized quickly that he didn’t have any brake pressure and rolled off the end of the track, aborting the run. The car crew made up of Doug’s two daughters, wife, mom, and dad, serviced the car and replaced the master cylinder in their brake system twice before the second qualifying run that afternoon. During that process, the fire bottles were accidentally set off in the pit, creating another system replacement that had to happen during the three-hour turnaround for round two of qualifying. Doug’s second qualifying pass of 5.542 at 265.53 was enough to qualify in the fourth position.

Photo by Melanie Johnson

“These are the days that really make you appreciate the times when things go smooth and you’re winning,” Doug’s mom, Cheryl, commented while the team hustled to get the car back together. 

When the Gordon’s pulled the car out Saturday morning, they discovered the fuel tank was leaking and made yet another hardware replacement before Q3. The conditions on Saturday for the final qualifying session were much warmer, and the team didn’t improve their time or qualifying position. First round was competed Saturday afternoon during the warmest conditions of the weekend, 91° and 55% humidity. Doug defeated Kyle Smith with a 5.567 at 262.49 mph and earned lane choice over Sean Bellemeur in the semifinals. 

Sunday’s conditions were again different from the day before, air temperature capped out at 73° with 70% cloud cover. Mike Gordon, Doug’s dad, took advantage of the fast conditions and tuned the Beta Motorcycles Morro Bay Cabinets car to a round-winning 5.430 at 269.24 mph to set low E.T. and top speed of the event in the semifinals against Bellemeur’s 5.523 at 265.48 mph. 

Doug had lane choice once again in the final against Bob McCosh and backed up his semifinal performance with a 5.438 at 267.85 to defeat McCosh. Although, it was a close finish with a 0.009 of a second margin of victory. McCosh left the line first and ran 5.489 at 265.12, but Doug had enough power to drive around. It made for a very exciting finish to a long weekend.

Doug said, “To come here and overcome what we did was phenomenal. It was a very trying weekend, but I’m proud of the whole team for getting this thing done!”

The team isn’t quite done in Brainerd, they will be participating in the Monday test session with Maddi Gordon, Doug’s daughter, in the driver’s seat. They plan to make at least three full passes that will allow her to upgrade her competition license. The team made some hits at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif., earlier this year but couldn’t maintain traction past 200 feet due to 140°+ track temperatures. Now that she has experienced some tire shake and spinning, she’s ready to handle some full pulls on a post-National event track. The forecasted high during Monday’s testing is 77° with substantial cloud cover. 

Once testing is completed, the team will head to Indianapolis, Indiana, for the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals. They have not competed at the event since they won it in 2021. 

This story was originally published on August 22, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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