In clinching his second consecutive NHRA Heritage Series Nostalgia Funny Car championship, Jason Rupert didn’t exactly follow the script he had in mind.
Rupert, instead of collecting the series title with a round win or event victory, simply outlasted championship foe John Hale. Both Hale and Rupert failed to qualify for the California Hot Rod Reunion event. Rupert was ahead on points going into the event and therefore with no one else mathematically able to catch either, secured the crown in a season which Rupert described as one of consistency prevailing.
“I have a bunch of hardworking guys who like to have a lot of fun,” said Rupert, who drives the Mert Littlefield tribute Funny Car. “We won the war by a lot of runner-ups and using consistency in our favor. It’s unfortunate we didn’t qualify because the car was on one of the best passes it’s ever made. All of a sudden I saw fuel spraying all over the windshield. I had to click it off.”
Safety wise, Rupert didn’t want to shut-off when the line came loose but ultimately his instincts as a good driver made the decision for him.
“I told myself I wasn’t going to click it off,” admitted Rupert. “My foot just came off of the throttle … it was an instinctive thing. I was kind of bummed about that.”
Rupert was waiting to run when the deciding factor in the championship battle went down and admitted this wasn’t exactly the way he envisioned the epic battle between he and Hale would be decided.
“I already knew I was the champion, but had nothing to do with the reason I lifted,” Rupert said. “We were sitting in line waiting to make our run when we heard John Hale had smoked the tires ahead of us and didn’t make it. I had mixed emotions because I felt bad for John because I thought we were going to battle it out until the end. I never envisioned neither one of us qualifying.”
This season has been good for Rupert at every stop on the tour except for one – Bakersfield.
“We made it to just about every final, just not the two races in Bakersfield,” Rupert said.
Rupert’s scorecard showed a win at the Boise, Idaho-based Nightfire Nationals and runner-ups at the Las Vegas, Sacramento, and the second Boise event later in the season.
“Drag racing is like that sometimes,” Rupert said.
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