KENT — Pasco’s JR Carr might be seeded 12th for Pro Stock eliminations Sunday at the 26th NHRA Northwest Nationals in Kent, but he is No. 1 in multitasking.
The sport benefits from having visible stars such as John Force, Tony Schumacher and Greg Anderson, but not every professional driver at National Hot Rod Association national events is backed by million-dollar sponsors. A good portion of them – including Carr – are part-time drag racers.
Drag racers who know they have very little shot at winning a race on the biggest stage.
Carr debuted in the NHRA in 1999 and drove a limited schedule for five seasons.
After switching to the International Hot Rod Association, he came back to Pro Stock in 2009 with a new Ford-sponsored program and a new business partner in Frank Gugliotta of Taylorsville, Md.
It took two years just to build their 2011 Ford Mustang from scratch. Carr did not enter an NHRA race until last season – with good success qualifying for eliminations at all but the final stop in Pomona, Calif.
“It has been kind of hit and miss since then,” Carr said.
This is Carr’s sixth NHRA event this season. He has qualified for eliminations four times, but has not advanced past the first round.
He will face Vincent Nobile – last week’s winner in Sonoma, Calif. – in the opening round Sunday at Pacific Raceways.
“We are short on laps,” Carr said. “We’re behind, but when you are part time, this is what you get in this class.”
That is because Carr and his wife, Terri, have other vested interests. They own Agri-Pack, which ships homegrown potatoes and onions all over the world from Pasco.
And the Carrs, who also have four children, own the Tri-Cities Fever, a professional team in the Indoor Football League. The year they bought the team – 2005 – the Fever won the championship in the National Indoor Football League.
Carr, a 1984 Pasco High School graduate, concedes he has “too much” on his plate. He said he doesn’t micromanage any of the operations, but is heavily involved in all of them.
“You can’t do it all,” Carr said. “I would say I have shorted the Pro Stock deal more than anything else, just because we want to do it on a limited budget, and because of the return.”
So why would a successful businessman/sports team owner/busy father want to spend lots of money and plenty of summer weekends racing in the NHRA against bigger, badder Pro Stock teams?
Carr isn’t so sure he always knows the answer.
“It is a challenge. I know the guys out there are the best guys in the world, so just to qualify with them is, to me, like winning,” Carr said. “Sometimes you think, ‘Why am I doing this?’ But everybody has gone through that. It is exciting to drive, and I do want to be successful at it. But I am also realistic – we have to pay more dues.”
In two weeks, Carr will debut a new car – a 2013 Ford Mustang.
Six Top Fuel drivers eclipsed Schumacher’s old Pacific Raceways record of 3.802 seconds (elapsed time). The top qualifier is points leader Shawn Langdon, who ripped off a run of 3.765 ET in the first session Saturday. … Ron Capps will always have fond memories of Pacific Raceways – he won his first professional event in a low-budget Top Fuel dragster in 1995. But he had two miserable Funny Car qualifying sessions Saturday, and saw his 34-race streak of making the 16-car elimination field snapped. … Jack Beckman not only earned the No. 1 seed, he set a track mark of 4.049 ET, erasing the old record of 4.056 ET, set by Robert Hight. … Mike Edwards, a three-time Northwest Nationals winner (1996-97, 2009), captured the top Pro Stock time in record-setting fashion – in 6.526 ET and at 212.29 mph. ... Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. Sunday.