TAFC CHAMPION LINDBERG EARNS FUEL FUNNY CAR LICENSE WITH 3.91
There's one more talented shark in the nitro pool as of Monday afternoon.
Jonnie Lindberg, who recently clinched the NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car crown, climbed one more rung on the drag racing ladder by earning his fuel Funny Car license the day after the Toyota NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Lindberg, a multi-time champion in European FIA Drag Racing added a second United States to his resume, when over the course of the weekend he secured the NHRA Lucas Oil Series Championship.
"It’s pretty cool," Lindberg admitted. "Yesterday, I won the championship, and now I have my Fuel license.
Lindberg quickly noted the differences between his alcohol car and the "foreign" experience of racing a nitro-burning version.
"It’s a lot different," Lindberg said. "I rev it up to almost 8,000 and swap feet and shift it two times. Here you go in, take your foot off the clutch, put the fuel pump on and then you bump it in and leave from idle. That was the biggest difference. You know, when you start letting off the clutch, man you better hold on and keep it in the groove. It’s a great feeling. It’s hard to explain, of course. It’s crazy fast. I’ve been 272 at the quarter mile is fastest, I was 279 at half-track; 321 at 1,000’."
Lindberg's first run was an early-shut off 4.18 elapsed time at 230 miles per hour. The run also dropped a cylinder, which he reacted accordingly and lifted. The next run, with all candles lit, Lindberg recorded an impressive 3.91, 321 pass.
The driving force behind the nitro licensing was Tim Wilkerson, who has become a popular choice lately for aspiring fuel Funny Car racers to earn their competition license.
"Pretty darn fast for a license run," Wilkerson said with a smile. "Gotta be the fastest license run I’ve ever seen. And then track got a little hotter, so I slowed it down a little bit."
"It never stops pulling," Lindberg added. "I’m just grateful that Tim let me drive his car, and trusted me with it. When you run a 3.91 and 3.96 for your full pass, that's pretty cool."
Lindberg completed the licensing process as he closed the day with a 3.96, 321 pass.
"He shut it off at the same exact time on both those three-second runs," Wilkerson confirmed.
Lindberg's first opportunity to drive a fuel car earned a passing grade from Teacher Wilkerson, who along with 16-time Funny Car champion John Force signed his license application on Monday afternoon.
"I’d give him a B+," Wilkerson said. "He did pretty good. Normal transition going from an Alcohol Funny Car to a Fuel car sounds like it ought to be pretty simple, but things really happen fast. But he did a good job steering it, he would get behind it, and he’d steer right back in the middle again. He did really good.
"Started off at the right time both times. It had a hole out the first run, and I yelled at him to turn it off, and he heard me and shut off. So, I think he did really good. And he knows the things that he did wrong. We came back and looked at the data, and he was like, 'Man, I saw that, and I knew that, and I did that. I think I felt that."
Who knows if we'll see Lindberg in the big show next year? Just getting to drive one of the most volatile race cars on the planet will be sufficient for now.
"It’s been my dream since I was a kid, to drive a Fuel Funny Car," Lindberg admitted. "But, of course, it would be cool to be here and play with the big boys. You never know. Maybe there’s an Alcohol Funny Car for sale soon."