The third stop in the 2016 season for the Grothus Dragbikes (GDB) team was at Memphis International Raceway for the third event & midway point of the all bike Manufacturers Cup Series. There was extra hype coming into this event as GDB rider Brunson and his wife Madeline just welcomed their newborn son, Graham Joseph Grothus, into the world one week prior (GDB Team Owner's Ed & Judy's first grandchild). To add to the excitement, GDB team member 'Showboat' Shane Eperjesi would be aboard a brand new 2016 GDB Suzuki pro-mod. Brunson arrived in the wee hours of the rainy Saturday morning as Ed, Brad Grothus & 'Showboat' himself were putting the finishing touches on the new pro-mod to get it race ready.
After a small delay due to track drying, Brunson marched his 2015 Indocil Art GDB pro-mod to the lanes for qualifying round #1 and wasted no time letting everyone on the property know he was all business as he ripped off a 4.109 at 172.59 mph to go to the #1 qualifying position in the nasty Memphis heat. 'Showboat' sat out the first qualifier to ensure everything was right before he pushed up GDB's second pro-mod bike for its maiden voyage.
Brunson opted to sit out qualifying round #2 as the conditions worsened and to watch his teammate & the rest of the field attempt to manage the very hot track surface. In the second qualifying session, 'Showboat' got the old school, head light equipped, bike down the track but much slower than he had hoped for as a fuel pump wire lost connection. The only rider to make a major movement in Q2 was owner of Fast By Gast, Paul Gast, who clicked off a 4.114 at 174.62 mph to go to the #2 qualifying spot.
Round #3 of pro-mod qualifying was shaping up to be a good one as the sun began to set and the track surface began to cool down. However, it didn't net an improvement for Brunson as he and crew chief, Fas Eddie "tried a little something." Brunson knew early it wasn't on an improved run so he clicked through gears and shut it off early for a 4.360 elapsed time at 143.14 mph. 'Showboat' didn't have much luck himself as he Showboated his new bike for just a bit too much and clipped the mph cone disqualifying his run.
After Brunson and the entire GDB team collected their number #1 qualifying plaque Sunday morning at opening ceremonies, it was time for eliminations. Brunson drew the always dangerous #10 qualifier Jeff House of Keller, TX aboard his beautiful blue Suzuki pro-mod. This one was over quickly as Mr. House turned on the red eye giving Brunson the free pass into second round as Brunson clicked off a smooth 4.14 at 171 mph in the dense Memphis air. 'Showboat' Shane was next up against #2 qualifier Paul Gast; the win light went to Mr. Gast with an impressive 4.082 at 173.23 mph over Shane's A-B 4.402 at 161.25 mph.
Round two Brunson was rewarded with a bye run due to his #1 qualifying position. Brunson clicked off a slightly improved 4.138 at 172.36 mph and gained more valuable data heading into the semis for his matchup against Cape Coral, FL based rider, Spencer Allen. Brunson then stepped it up in a big way ripping off a huge 4.099 at 173.27 mph against the red-lighting effort of Spencer's 4.277 at 169.42 mph.
The stage was set for the finals with new father Brunson having lane choice over long time pro-stock & pro-mod veteran Paul Gast - the winner earning the Manufacturer's Cup pro-mod points lead heading into the Fall Rockingham event. With both riders putting down stout 4.09 ETs the round before, both knew how important getting the starting line advantage would be. Unfortunately for Brunson, he was -.008 too quick as he turned on the red light giving Paul the automatic win light who was not out to be out down with his .002 4.120 at 173.16 mph.
Although GDB didn't leave the track with the event win or the points lead, they left with a number one qualifying position, a pocket full of really solid time slips, more valuable points - now in the second position by a mere one point - and a second complete pro-mod that went A-B & looks to be fined tuned for the next event. GDB would like to thank all of their marketing partners for their continued support and are looking forward to running the 1/4 mile in pro-open while also racing for $5k in pro-ET on the revamped Race Visions Kawasaki at the NHDRO Summer Celebration at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, IN August 5-7.