BRISTOL — Shane Tucker has spent much of the last decade becoming one of the biggest Pro Stock drag racing stars in his native Australia. For the next month, the 25-year-old racer will be trying to make his mark in the U.S. on the NHRA circuit with his father’s Rob Tucker Racing team.
The Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway is the first of a four-race stretch and eight races overall that Tucker plans to run in the States.
“This is a really important race, our first race back in the U.S. for a while,” he said. “Hopefully, we can do a good job and make it into the field. Any U.S. race for us being Austrailian is a big deal. If we were lucky enough to get in a final or get a win, that would be huge.”
Tucker is no stranger to American racing, spending two years as a teenager with the Cagnazzi Pro Stock team. He made good use of those lessons, capturing the Australian version of the Winternationals in 2009.
Still, he knows how daunting a task involved with racing in America and facing off with the multiple-car teams from J&J Racing, Summit Racing and others. With the Greeneville-based J&J team, there are two NHRA world champions, Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Allen Johnson, whom Tucker has to face.
“It’s tough to compete against those big teams,” he said. “The toughest thing, being a part-time deal, is that those guys are doing it full-time and trying to match them. It’s extremely tough, but we’re leasing motors from Lee Beard Motorsports, so maybe we can pick their brains on a few things.”
A yearly contender for the ANDRA (Australia National Drag Racing Association) Pro Stock championship, Tucker ranked sixth in the last season’s point standings. He hopes the trip to the States proves fruitful in races at New Hampshire, Chicago and Norwalk, Ohio in addition to Bristol before heading back home for six weeks. He then plans another visit to the U.S. to race at Indianapolis and Charlotte.
As for Bristol, he’s yet to experience the Thunder Valley Nationals as a driver, although he was there as part of the Cagnazzi team six years ago. The track left a definite impression on him.
“I’ve been here to a race in 2008 and I thought it was incredible,” he said. “For sure, the conditions fluctuate so much and that’s something we have to keep an eye on. It’s a bit challenging.”
Tucker and his father, who was the 1998 ANDRA Pro Stock champion, thought they made progress on their new Chevrolet Cobalt at a Bristol Dragway test session last week. He was able to make seven passes down the drag strip, concentrating on the 330-feet runs.
He quickly found out that racing at Bristol was a whole different animal than racing at places like Brisbane and Sydney in his native country, where it is currently winter.
“Back home about all of our race tracks are sea level,” he said. “To come where it has the altitude and is between the mountains, it fluctuates. We made one run and in an hour, it changed at 500 feet. You just have to stay on top of the clutch setup and the motor guy has to take care of the tuneup to catch you up pretty quickly.”comments powered by Disqus