Heading into the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Funny Car driver and team owner Chris King has several goals for his Howards Cams/Competition Products team. Racing at Brainerd International Raceway for the first time, King is eager to make positive strides after a tough race last weekend at the Menards NHRA Nationals in Topeka. The full-time Chicago fireman is building his team with sponsor support and the assistance of a part-time crew led by veteran tuner and racer Terry Totten.
“We hurt ourselves a little last weekend in Topeka but those are the hits you take sometimes as a young and developing team,” said King, who has competed at three national events this season. “We are learning every time we work on the car and make a run. Our runs are getting quicker and faster and we are not hurting parts or oiling down the track. Those are all positives, but it is a frustratingly slow process. I love racing and I want to go as fast as possible but when you are building a quality racing program you have to take your time. The patience of the process is what is painful.”
The past two races, Denver and Topeka, have seen King make consecutive runs that are all quicker and faster than he has ever gone in the past. He started his professional career with a handful of races in 2021 and last year he rededicated himself to putting the right pieces together to make a positive run at success this season. The former Alcohol Funny Car racer has the support of many of his fellow competitors in the Funny Car and Top Fuel ranks, so he knows he is moving in the right direction.
“I have had a lot of other team owners and crew chiefs offer to help us which is awesome,” said King. “Dean Antonelli who is Ron Capps’ crew chief helped us figure some things out after Chicago. We were pitted beside Buddy Hull and his Top Fuel team in Topeka and we had some great conversations. There is so much that goes into not just driving these 11,000 horsepower racecars but also managing the team. It can get overwhelming and I just have to take a step back sometimes.”
This weekend King will get four qualifying runs to try and earn one of the 16 qualifying spots. The two runs on Friday and two runs on Saturday schedule is something that King and his Howards Cams/Competition Products team desperately needs. They need data and getting track time is the key to their improvement. The biggest takeaway from Topeka was they got the chance to get more run data to add to what they had from positive passes in Denver.
“We are getting great information and improving on it. I am getting more comfortable in the car so back-to-back races like Topeka and now Brainerd will be huge for us,” said King. “This is a great track, and we can make some great runs here. I am really excited about our prospects for success. We have sponsors getting involved and I want to put on a good show for the fans.”
Throughout this whole process King has kept a positive attitude and is making the most of every opportunity at the track. When he is not working on his car, he is at the ropes signing autographs and talking with fans. He understands that at this point in his career it is about making a one-on-one connection with fans across the country and representing his sponsors to the best of his ability.
“I wouldn’t be out here without Howards Cams and Competition Products,” said King. “We have other people and companies that are helping us race to race but I am on the phone every chance I get talking to people and letting them know where we are going. The U.S. Nationals will be a big weekend for us. This weekend will also be huge. I want to make four more career best runs in qualifying and then just see what can happen on Sunday’s race day. This sport is so wild and so much fun, anything can happen.”
Funny Car and Top Fuel qualifying will begin on Friday at 3:30 p.m. and at 6:30 p.m. Saturday King and the rest of the Funny Car class will run at 2:00 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. and final eliminations will begin on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. The race will be broadcast nationally on FOX.