That desire brought him to the U.S., where he’ll run four races in the NHRA — the U.S.’s top drag racing sanctioning body — this season.
The trip to America will cost him the chance for a seventh straight European title — but that’s just fine with Alund.
This week, Alund is in Rockingham, testing and practicing on the quarter-mile track at Rockingham Dragway for his first NHRA race — this weekend’s 4-Wide Nationals at ZMax Dragway in Charlotte.
Later this spring and summer, Alund and his team will also compete in Atlanta (May 14-16); Chicago (June 3-6) and Englishtown, N.J. (June 10-13).
For Alund, the opportunity to compete against the best in American drag racing was just too tempting to pass up.
“It will be a big thrill and a great challenge to race against the world elite in the tightest professional drag racing class around,” Alund said. “We know we have the material to be in the field, but do not come close to having the same experience as the American professionals. This is the big challenge for us. It will not be easy for us, but we are not coming over here to have a picnic, either.”
Alund on Wednesday got his car out onto an American dragstrip for the first time. “We wanted to practice at a place where we could get a good idea what we’re up against,” Alund said.
For Alund, a major challenge will be adjusting to the concrete cracks he’ll find in the U.S. Dragstrips in Europe are constructed of asphalt, he said.
“We’ll just get out there and see what we can do,” Alund said. ‘
Several other NHRA drivers are also in town this week, getting ready for the weekend’s races in Charlotte. One of those is Larry Morgan, a longtime NHRA Pro Stock driver who is currently in 12th place in his division’s point standings.
Morgan comes into this weekend’s action just 21 points out of the top 10.
He hopes to get there this weekend.
“We’ve got a good chance to get there,” Morgan said as he adjusted his car in between test runs.
Morgan is no stranger to Rockingham Dragway: A longtime friend of owner Steve Earwood, Morgan won the NHRA’s Winston event here in 1991.
“It’s always fun to get back this way,” Morgan said. “We’re just here break in some tires, and try a few different things. We want to run a little faster every time out.”
NHRA Pro Stock Driver Justin Humphreys, meanwhile, was also at Rockingham Dragway this week. Currently 19th in points in the Pro Stock division, Humphreys and his team have struggled so far in 2010 and are hoping for a change of fortune soon.
Humphreys, who has a partnership with Jack Roush Racing, will soon switch to a new 500-cubic-inch engine designed and built by the Roush shop.
But for now, Humphreys has to make his current setup work, and he was glad for the chance to stop by Rockingham on the way to Charlotte.
“We’re just here to make some adjustments and see if we can get on track,” Humphreys said. “Steve’s always good to us here. When we come here, we know we’ll have a great track to practice on.”
Contact sports editor David Vantress at 997-3111, ext. 14 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.