Those simple phrases were about all that Brad Plourd could utter in reference to his performance at last weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals in Seattle, WA. There, Plourd defended his 2011 Northwest Nationals Super Comp crown by driving Charlotte Lucas’s Lucas Oil backed dragster to his 13th NHRA national event victory. That in itself was an impressive feat. It was made incredible by the fact that he drove his Lucas Oil backed Chevrolet Nova Stock Eliminator machine to victory just moments earlier.
As if the weekend could be more unforgettable, the rare double-victory came at the event and facility that Plourd will likely always call home. Though he recently relocated to Avon, IN to be centrally located in his pursuit of NHRA competition from coast to coast, Plourd grew up nearby and cut his racing teeth in Seattle. His mother and father, longtime division 6 competitor Bernie Plourd, were on site for the event, as was his girlfriend Katie Yeager and many of his closest friends. The dragster that Plourd drove to victory in Super Comp is the same familiar Lucas-Oil backed machine that he parked in victory lane a year ago. The Nova, though new to the Stock Eliminator ranks, is a car that Plourd has owned and raced in various capacities for his entire adult life: it was also his daily driver throughout high school.
“Words really can’t describe how magical this weekend has been,” said Plourd. “To win in two classes is incredible. The list of drivers who have done that is very short and includes some of the racers I respect most in this sport. To be able to do it with my Nova, which is almost part of the family, is really special. And to accomplish the feat here, in Seattle, with my family here, was absolutely amazing.”
Plourd’s Super Comp title defense started with opening round victories over Derek McMasters, Don Knoblauch, and Francesca Plaizier Giroux. That set up a fourth round tilt with fellow top ten contender and Lucas Oil teammate Tom Bayer. There, the pair left with nearly identical reaction times as Bayer took a slight .013 to .017 advantage, but Plourd outmaneuvered Bayer at the finish line to win by just .005 of a second with a 8.922 on the 8.90 standard. That pivotal victory earned Plourd an all-important quarterfinal bye run in the opening round of Sunday’s final eliminations. He survived a close double-breakout matchup with Dale Green in the semi-final round, 8.888 to 8.886, which set up a final round contest with former NHRA Division 6 champion Stefan Kondolay.
In the final, Plourd took a slight starting line advantage, .013 to .019, but as the pair neared the finish line, he slowed allowing Kondolay to cross the finish line first. Like each decision he made throughout the weekend, that proved to be the right call: Kondolay broke out by the narrowest of margins with a 8.899 on the 8.90 Super Comp index.
“Stefan is a really good racer that not a lot of people outside of the Northwest know much about. We actually raced each other (at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals) the week before, and I was lucky to come out on top. I knew I’d have my hands full in the final. As it ended up, I feel like I made the right move, but I was really fortunate: he could have run 8.900 just as easily as he went 8.899.”
Meanwhile, Plourd was making his way through the Stock Eliminator field in his familiar Nova, which he only recently converted to a Stock Eliminator entry.
“The Nova has always just been a fun bracket car that I could drive on the street. Earlier this season, I decided to make it into a Stocker, which required a new combination, a roll cage, and some suspension updates. To be honest, I don’t really have it sorted out. In fact, it’s wildly inconsistent right now. In Seattle, I was happy with my driving, but I’ll be the first to admit that I got incredibly lucky. I was just in the right place at the right time, and the outcome is just incredible.”
Plourd’s humble nature conceals his undeniable talent behind the wheel. That talent was on display throughout the event, particularly in Stock Eliminator. He used solid reaction times (.042, .040, and .028) to advance through the opening three rounds and into Sunday’s final eliminations. There, he posted a .010 reaction and 12.589 on his 12.58 dial-in to defeat Steve Wann and earn a semi-final bye run. On that bye run, he left the starting line with a perfect .000 reaction time. Waiting in the final round was fellow Northwest standout Dallas Glenn, who coincidentally was driving the same C/SA Corvette in which Plourd scored his first NHRA national event victory.
“In the fourth round, my Nova ran 7.81 to the 1/8th mile. On my bye run, it slowed all the way to a 7.89 for no apparent reason. So I had to dial up for the final, but I really had no idea what I could run. I figured I just had to make sure I could run the number and give myself a chance at the finish line. I told my friend Kyle Rizzoli before the final, ‘I’m not going to back off on the tree, I’ve got to be good to win because the car is all over the place. And at the finish line, I’m just going to try to make it nothing: .00x in one direction or the other.’ I didn’t realize that I’d be going as fast as I was: the car came back to 7.81 at the 1/8th mile, and I was running nearly .2 quicker than my dial-in. But the plan worked out, and I was lucky because Dallas was running quicker than he thought as well.”
The strategy worked to perfection, thanks in large part to flawless execution on Plourd’s part. He once again left the starting line with a near perfect .008 reaction time, besting the normally solid .025 of Glenn. Plourd then drove the finish line with mastery, crossing just .005 ahead of his opponent to win a double breakout contest with a 12.562 (12.60 dial) to Glenn’s 10.870 (10.92).
“It was certainly a day that I’ll never forget,” Plourd summarized. With the elusive double victory, Plourd joins one of the most elite lists in NHRA competition. Edmond Richardson, Pat Austin, Scotty Richardson, David Rampy, Peter Biondo, Kevin Helms, Jeff Taylor, Gary Stinnett, Tommy Phillips, Jody Lang, and Drew Skillman are the only other competitors to have earned double victories in NHRA national event competition.
Plourd took the opportunity to credit the Lucas family and everyone at Lucas Oil including Tom Bogner, Kristene Hayden, and all the guys at the shop back in Indiana. Plourd also credited John Coughlin at JEGS; Farron and John at Hoosier Racing Tire; Todd, Andy and the boys at Huntsville Engine & Performance; John Calvert at Caltracs; Adam Davis and his family; Richard Yeager; Jerry Emmons; his parents, Bernie and Ronna, and his girlfriend Katie Yeager.