WESTERFIELD CELEBRATES IMPROBABLE TAFC WORLD TITLE
When talking about contenders for the 2017 Top Alcohol Funny Car contenders for the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series world champions, Shane Westerfield wasn’t at the top of that list.
“We have all the right equipment, we have good motors, we had good race cars, a good body, we have all the equipment and the capability of doing it, it is just putting it all together and trying and win a championship,” said Westerfield in an interview Jan. 16 on WFO radio. “To be honest, it was so far out there with thinking that (winning a world championship) could ever happen. Usually we are shooting to be in the top five in points every year, so to do what we did and the way we started out it was unreal. That was motivation to keep going and not try and lose.”
Westerfield won his first coveted Top Alcohol Funny Car world title with 709 points, followed by John Lombardo Jr.’s 679-point total and Doug Gordon, who was at 638 points.
“I’m still in disbelief,” Westerfield said about being the champ. “I got a call from Robert Hight and John Force saying congratulations and that was cool, and I also got a call from my good buddy Del Worsham. There so many good competitors out there and they have been doing it so long. We just wanted to be a part of it as far as being considered in the championship hunt at the end whether we were going to win it or not, it was just cool that people were talking about it. I consider us a small team. We have a good group of guys together, but we don’t spend a lot of the money the other teams do yet because we don’t feel we have to, but it is getting to the point we are going to have to start spending more money to find more power. But, it was exciting to be a part of it and be considered one of the top guys up there and this next year is going to even tougher and hopefully we can try and win it again.”
After a quick start to the season, Westerfield acknowledged his thoughts of winning a world championship were slipping away until his team turned things around at Woodburn (Ore.) Dragstrip in September.
“We got back in the shop and built a whole new motor and started fresh and went to Woodburn and that was probably one of the best races we had all year,” Westerfield said. “We kind of dominated there which we don’t typically do. We were low ET, Top Speed every round, No. 1 qualifier and we won the race. We were confident leaving there, not that we could win the (world) championship completely, but we knew we were going to be No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 by the end with Lombardo and Doug Gordon. Then, we rolled into Dallas and that was one of biggest races we had all year. John (Lomboardo) only had a couple races left to claim and Doug was a race ahead of us and we were tied with Lombardo. In the second round, we had to race John and he had probably beat me eight or nine times in a row. So, I was going into the round just knowing I was going to get beat and that was probably going to be the end of the championship. Then, we tried as hard as we could, and we came out on top. It was just a good clean heads up race and were able to beat him and that pretty much clinched the championship for us as all we had to do at that point was stay ahead of Doug, which were able to do.”
With the 2018 season looming, Westerfield has lofty expectations.
“We’re going to try as hard as we can (in 2018) to make our car as quick and as fast as possible,” Westerfield said. “I spent all the NHRA money and Lucas Oil money and then some as far as getting a lot of new motor equipment and new electronics and we are having a new race car built right now and we are really just going for it, and I want to really be one of the top cars as far as the ET and the speed goes. If you sit back in this class and get stagnate, you’re going to get passed up quick and before you know you will not even be qualifying at these races. We’re going to go for it. We’re going to be a lot more aggressive this year and it may pay off and it may not, but that’s our goal. We want to break their backs when we come rolling into the gate. We want them to be scared of us and know that we are there.”