KENT, WA – August 1, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – With just three races before the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship, Jim Campbell knows there is pressure. But you can be certain it won’t stop the Funny Car driver from smiling in his pursuit of the 10th and final spot in the loaded class.
Campbell, who started the famed NHRA Western Swing with a semifinal appearance in Denver, sits just eight points behind veteran Cruz Pedregon in 11th heading into this weekend’s NHRA Northwest Nationals at scenic Pacific Raceways. But a flurry of talent, including standouts Del Worsham and Alexis DeJoria, and rookie Jonnie Lindberg, are right behind Campbell, which means he must continue to produce in his 10,000-horsepower 7-Eleven/Oberto Beef Jerky Dodge Charger R/T.
“There’s no doubt the pressure is on, but I love pressure and I think I respond well to it,” Campbell said. “There is five of us fighting for that 10th spot, but I feel like we’ll step up to the occasion. Yes, it’s pressure, but this is what I love to do. It’s a dream come true to drive a Funny Car for (team owner) Jim Dunn. I’m blessed to be able to do this and I’m racing for a legend. I love the pressure. He’ll tell me to take a couple of deep breaths, get focused, do my job and we’ll be fine.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Aaron Strong (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 and FOX national broadcast network, including live final eliminations on FOX starting at 4 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Aug. 6. It is the 16th of 24 events in 2017 and only two events follow Seattle before the Countdown to the Championship.
In his first full year of racing in Funny Car, Campbell is simply thrilled to be in the conversation for NHRA’s six-race playoffs. But he’s more than held his own this season, advancing to two semifinals and knocking off the No. 1 qualifier in back-to-back races in Chicago and Denver. Campbell is currently 15 and 21 points ahead of Lindberg and Worsham, respectively.
“I couldn’t be more excited about what we’ve done,” Campbell said. “Now that we’ve had some time together as a team, we’ve built up a consistent pattern. I’m getting more consistent as a driver and I’ve gotten a lot better on the lights. What that does is allows Jim to tune the car around me to get faster and faster. It’s definitely important to keep doing what we’re doing. I know Jim is looking to run some 3s. We’re right on the verge and that would be big, especially at this critical point.”
Campbell went a career-best 3.977 a year ago at Indy, but is looking for his first three-second run in 2017. Doing so in Seattle, where sponsor Oberto is located, would make for the start of a great weekend. Going rounds would simply add to that, though Campbell knows it’s difficult against the likes of defending event winner Ron Capps, who has six wins this season, eight-time Seattle winner John Force and J.R. Todd, who won last weekend in Sonoma. But with Dunn calling the shots, Campbell is confident his team can have success at Pacific Raceways.
“It’s extremely thrilling for me to drive for Jim Dunn, a legend of the sport,” Campbell said. “He’s got so much knowledge and wisdom, I just try to listen and absorb it. Someone with the wealth of knowledge he has, I am the student. The only way to get better is to listen and perform. Beating the No. 1 qualifier in back-to-back races instilled a lot of confidence in me and the team has worked their butts off. The main thing is our car is going down the track and that will be key (in Seattle).”
Defending Top Fuel winner Brown’s bid to sweep the swing ended in Sonoma where points leader and six-time season winner Steve Torrence knocked off the back-to-back world champion in the final round. Others to watch include Leah Pritchett, Brittany Force and Doug Kalitta.
In Pro Stock, Strong earned his first career win a year ago. Bo Butner has picked up his first professional victories in 2017, winning three times to take over the points lead. Other top performers this year include rookie Tanner Gray, who has three wins, and Greg Anderson.
The event features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series as well, showcasing the future stars of the sport.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 2:30 and 5:00 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 4 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Aug. 5, at 1:30 and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 6.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 253-639-5927. Tickets also are available online at www.pacificraceways.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association