OPTISMISM HIGH FOR CAMPBELL AFTER UPSETTING HIGHT
Drag racing is an extremely humbling sport – especially in the nitro classes of Top Fuel and Funny Car.
Nitro Funny Car driver Jim Campbell knows that all too well since the middle of March.
Campbell, who is in first season of driving Jim Dunn Racing’s Funny Car, broke a long drought when he upset No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight in the first round at the 20th annual NHRA Route 66 Nationals July 9 in Chicago.
Campbell clocked a 4.082-second elapsed time at 310.48 mph to defeat Hight, who slowed to 6.473 seconds.
“It felt absolutely awesome,” Campbell said. “It was very, very exciting to get another round win and taking out the No. 1 qualifier was so cool. We were on a dry spell there working out some clutch issues and getting the driver consistent. I don’t have as much seat time as these guys do. Getting my consistency and getting my pattern down has been huge. Jim and the guys have been working with me and I think we have a great routine.”
Campbell’s victory over Hight was his first round victory since he upset Courtney Force in the first round at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., March 19.
Campbell’s day ended when he lost to eventual race winner Ron Capps in the second round. Capps clocked a 4.119-second lap and Campbell came in at 4.432 seconds.
Nonetheless, Campbell is still upbeat, especially since he’s now in 11th place in the points standings, only three points behind Cruz Pedregon for the coveted No. 10 spot after 13 of 24 races. The top 10 finishers in the points qualify for the six-race Countdown to the Championship, which begin at the Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway Sept. 15-17 in Charlotte.
“There’s five cars all fighting for that No. 10 spot and to get a round win at Chicago and have everybody else I needed to lose, lose was big,” Campbell said. “Jim’s getting some consistency on the car and we are getting the six-disc clutch figured out.”
Campbell’s in the Countdown mix, thanks to a hot start to the season, highlighted by his career-best semifinal performance at the Arizona Nationals Feb. 26 near Phoenix.
“This is dream come true,” said Campbell about his first season competing full-time on NHRA’s national event circuit. “I got to run a few races last year and I had my first 3-second run at Indy last year, and now this is just thrilling for me this year and I look forward to driving more years here with Jim Dunn. Jim’s starting to get a handle on this car and the driver is coming around and we’re all coming together as a team and it’s starting to show and we are really looking forward to making this a Countdown car. These other cars like the Schumacher cars and Force cars, they are always pushing the envelope and all we have to do is make it from A to B and we can win rounds.”