After a very rough outing at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in August Funny Car team owner and driver Chris King took a few weeks to evaluate his program and determine what the best course of action was for his Howards Cams/Competition Products Dodge Funny Car team. King made the tough decision not to compete at the Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals, but the up-and-coming driver did attend the race and spent time with tuners and began conversations with additional crew members to improve his team’s manpower. Ultimately, King decided to forge ahead and with new parts, additional crew members and a positive attitude and the Chicago fireman and Funny Car driver is eager to get back into competition this weekend at the NHRA Midwest Nationals from World Wide Technology Raceway.
“There were a lot of sleepless nights after Brainerd,” said King, who has competed in three events so far this season. “I asked myself why am I still doing this and how badly do I want this. At the end of the day, I want to be out here full time. I have some great sponsors supporting me and I feel like we made some great additions to the team after Brainerd. The amazing thing is how supportive the NHRA driver and crew chief community is. I talked to a lot of guys who gave me some suggestions and we also were able to pick up some parts that will keep us going.”
One main addition will be Bob Peck who will work as a consultant along with crew chief Terry Totten. Peck brings a wealth of experience from working with Terry McMillen Racing as well as John Force Racing, Joe Amato, and Bob Vandergriff. Since Brainerd King has also received assistance from Top Fuel team owner and driver Buddy Hull, Alex Conaway from Tony Stewart Racing, Sam Fabiano from John Force Racing, and support from Ron Capps’ NAPA Funny Car team. This weekend King’s crew will be led by Totten and Peck and will include Dave Lowe, Ray Worbel, Ryan Rosenmeir, Aaron Kelley, Brian Wilbert, Travis Rohrer, Anthony Schroeder, Ben Morgan, and Jim King.
“This is the most guys I have ever had working on my Funny Car and this is what it takes to be competitive and smart out here,” said King. “I can’t thank Buddy Hull, Alex at TSR, Sam from JFR and the entire NAPA team enough for the assistance, insight and help the past few weeks. I want to continue to grow my program the right way and get better every race. This is my dream and I am going to give it everything I have to make it happen.”
Heading into the NHRA Midwest Nationals King will be one of 18 Funny cars trying to get one of the 16 available spots. With three qualifying runs King and his Howards Cams/Competition Products Funny Car will have to be strategic about how they run their 11,000-horsepower Funny Car. The first session on Friday night should provide incredible conditions for the high horsepower teams but King’s operation will be looking to make a solid shakedown run. The key to King’s success will be the two qualifying runs on Saturday.
“We will have a fair amount of new equipment on our Funny Car for St. Louis, so we are not going to try and make a hero run right off the trailer,” said King. “Our goal will be to get some good data with our new parts and then try and take everything we can from the track conditions on Saturday. I want to get back to making career best runs back-to-back like we did in Denver and Topeka.”
During those 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. 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 heading to Brainerd.
“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 which is what happened in Brainerd. The biggest thing we took away from the race was we now have a better understanding of how we need to run the team. We made some mistakes, but we have corrected that moving forward.”
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.
King and the Howards Cams/Competition Products Funny Car team will be on track for the first time on Friday night for the 7:00 p.m. nighttime qualifying session. They will have two more opportunities to qualify on Saturday with run times at 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Final eliminations will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday with the race being broadcast nationally on FS1.