By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Jim Campbell wants to be the final driver that Jim Dunn Racing will ever hire. The 7-Eleven Funny Car driver joined the team in the off-season and is already No. 10 in points.
“Last year was last year,” he said. “That’s what Jon Dunn told me really to do. It is an honor and a pleasure to drive for Jim Dunn. The man has been around … he’s one of the pioneers of drag racing. To be able to drive the 7-Eleven, Oberto Beef Jerky and Hubert’s Lemonade Mopar Funny Car for Jim Dunn Racing is an absolute thrill for me. I couldn’t be more excited about our great start [to the season.] We’ve won three rounds in the first three races. It really is good. It’s really a tight-knit family and the car always looks first-right. It’s one of the nicest looking cars out there, especially with the Mooneyes car. It was really cook to drive that car – what a legendary car that is.”
He began the season with a loss to Courtney Force at Pomona. Then, he defeated her in Phoenix and Gainesville.
In the second race of the season at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Arizona, he went to the semi-finals. Ron Capps — the reigning Funny Car Champion — defeated Campbell with a 3.883 to a 4.890.
“Any time, you can beat a John Force car, a Don Schumacher car or a Kalitta Motorsports car, all of which are corporate-type cars, it’s a thrill,” he said. “As far as the momentum moving forward, we’re coming off of these three wins [first three races] — and I know the team has a lot of motivation and dedication — so does Jim Dunn to make this car go faster, faster and even more faster.
“We want to be able to be one of the top contenders and we’re building on plenty of momentum (through three races). We expect big things the rest of the year. Our goal is to make the Countdown [to the Championship, the final six races of the season.].”
Campbell is in a bit of a rut, as he has lost in the first round in the past three races. He’ll have an opportunity to get back to his winning ways from earlier in the season on Sunday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway this weekend.
“We started this in the off-season and with their shop being close, I went down there and met with them to make the car conducive for me. John Hale [the previous driver] and I are about the same size in height, but we aren’t the same size in weight. So, it’s amazing what 50 pounds — or whatever it is — does in the car. We worked on a lot of things to make me comfortable in the car. We didn’t expect to win these three rounds in the first three races. We were happy that we went rounds against some of the biggest corporate teams.
“However, we have just came together, as a team, and we talk about it. We talk about what went well and what didn’t go well. Jim — with his wealth of knowledge — they’ve been around for a long-time. I just sit there and be a sponge and absorb the information that he gives me, then process it and fit it whenever I can. So far, we’ve become cohesive as a team. We want to go forward and further.”
When Hale was in the car last season, Jim Dunn Racing was eliminated 22 times in the first-time. In Denver, he defeated Alexis DeJoria with a 4.303 to a 4.324, before losing to Robert Hight in the quarterfinals for the only time the team got past the first-round in 2016.
There were little changes the team had to make since Campbell took over.
“Actually, when it came to moving the throttle peddles, everything fit pretty well,” Campbell said. “We didn’t have to make many changes at all. Also, coming from a Dodge Charger to a Dodge Charger, it also made [the move] easier since I was already used to it. These cars are a little bit harder to see out of instead of the Toyota Camry, because you’re sitting so far back in the bodies. The Camry have a little bit better vision, but until you hit the throttle and take off, you can see the track a little better. It’s hard to see over the blower.”
For the past three weekends, the Jim Dunn Racing Funny Car has had Lescure Company Inc. on the body of the car. Lescure Company Inc. is one of Northern California’s premier Mechanical Contractors, which has been owned by the family since 1947.
“I think everyone realizes how hard it is to get a major sponsor in motorsports; let alone drag racing” Campbell said. “We also have to go through several hopes, before the deal is done. The NHRA also has to approve it.
“The team has to like the sponsor and the sponsor has to like the team. The person, on our team, who gets all the credit is Jon Dunn. He does a great job bringing in sponsors and keeping our sponsors. We’re able to keep sponsors, because the Dunn family is a class act.”
If the team can get back to its winning ways from earlier in the season, Campbell hopes that he can have success like Jonnie Lindberg did in the first several races of the season, as he went to the final round in Head Racing’s Funny Car in back-to-back races. Lindberg went to final rounds in Gainesville and Las Vegas, before losing to John Force and Tommy Johnson Jr.
Force went 3.928 to Lindberg’s 3.971 for the Gainesville Wally. Johnson Jr. then went 3.933 to Lindberg’s 4.016 to get the Las Vegas Wally.
When Campbell reaches the final round, it would be his first.
“I think I would probably have a heart attack,” he said jokingly. “I think we’ll be able to go a final round this year. Our goal is to hold up a Wally and make the Countdown. By our success early in this season, we’ve shown our sponsor that we’re a team to be messed with.
“I have to be honest. I was stoked for Jonnie to watch him do that. I remembered Jim Head has a good car, but to watch him go to the finals [against John Force and Tommy Johnson Jr.], I was happy for him but envious at the same time, because I want to go to the Finals, too. Going to the semifinals in my second race with Jim Dunn Racing, it was huge and very special to me. I know it was very special for the team, as well.”
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