Todd Lesenko, driving Jim Dunn's Grime Boss Funny Car suffered an engine explosion during the final qualifying session of the rain-delayed NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
“I’m doing okay,” said Lesenko. “The car left strong and was running down the track really well. I was just getting ready to lift … going across the 1,000-foot mark and hit the parachute, and I saw a big ball of fire.”
Lesenko was uninjured for the most part but revealed a soreness in his ribs, possibly from shrapnel.
Lesenko added the explosion covered his helmet visor in oil but managed to find a clear spot in the corner where he could navigate to a safe stop alongside of Jon Capps.
“Stand 21 did a great job with these double-layer helmets,” said Lesenko. “I could see out of the lower corner of the visor and all the while the car was bouncing around. I pumped the brakes and then let the brakes go. I was trying to slow the car down when I saw the wall.”
Lesenko said at the time he let go of the brake, he began to use the wall as a point of reference to bring the car to a safe stop.
There was no warning for Lesenko.
“One moment there is all glory and the next, ‘Pow!” explained Lesenko.
Lesenko said there was nowhere to place blame outside of parts failure.
“It could have been a rocker arm or something else,” Lesenko speculated. “There’s nowhere to place blame. We struggled a bit with our clutch this year and I tell you, I have a great crew and great team. It’s drag racing. That’s why we wear firesuits.”
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