Funny Car Champion Terry Haddock Joins Loaded Top Fuel Field In Baton Rouge; Litton, McMillen, Karamesines and Boychuk to compete

NORWALK, Ohio -- When 2008 IHRA Funny Car World Champion Terry Haddock crossed the finish line for the final time at the World Finals in Rockingham last October, little did he know it would be the last time he would do so in a Nitro Funny Car.

But while most drivers in a situation such as his would have simply thrown in the towel, Haddock brushed it off and did what he has been doing his entire life.

He took lemons and made lemonade.

With the Nitro Funny Car class on hold for the upcoming season, Haddock switched to Top Fuel for 2009 and has high hopes that he can have the same kind of success this year that he found driving a Funny Car to an IHRA championship last season.

"I am excited to be going over there to see what the IHRA is going to have to offer this year," Haddock said. "We are anticipating things to go well and I believe that we have a car that can go over there and win. And if things go well we would like to come over here and win a championship."

Haddock will get his 2009 Top Fuel campaign underway March 6-8 at the inaugural Summit Racing Equipment Mardi Gras Nationals at State Capitol Raceway competing in one of the toughest Top Fuel fields in years. Included in that list is 2007 IHRA Top Fuel champion Bruce Litton and the hottest driver in the IHRA as of late Tim Boychuck, who finished 2008 with two straight Top Fuel wins. The field will also consist of six of the top 10 drivers from last year's final point standings.

The car driven by 2008 Top Fuel World Champion Spencer Massey will also be back in the mix, this time driven by newcomer Del Cox Jr. under the umbrella of owner/driver Mitch King.

Other drivers scheduled to be on hand for the first race of the '09 Nitro Jam season are top-five points finishers from a year ago Terry McMillen and Bobby Lagnana Jr. The rest of the Top Fuel field consists of King, Chris Karamesines, Fred Farndon, Tim Gibson, Todd Simpson, Smax Smith and Paul Lee.

With such a talented list of drivers scheduled to be on hand for the season opener, it is going to take a good car to come away with a win and Haddock feels he has a car that can do just that.

"The dragster we have put together has shown really good signs of being a super competitive car and that makes it a little more exciting," Haddock said.

But even with a competitive car and the experience gained by winning a world championship, Haddock admits that he is still a little behind the curve in learning the ins and outs of the Top Fuel cars.

"Right now I feel like I am the weak link in the car because I don't have enough runs in a dragster," Haddock said. "It is different than driving a Funny Car so I am struggling with my reaction times a little bit, but they are coming around. Everything is a little different and it takes a little time to get used to.

"But I think that when we come out with this car we are going to be very competitive in the IHRA and that is the whole idea of going racing. We want to win."

And Haddock is no stranger to winning.

Haddock is a two-time IHRA event winner, winning once last year and also claiming one other final round appearance en route to claiming the 2008 Funny Car title. He also made one appearance in his Top Fuel car last season at the World Finals in Rockingham, qualifying sixth before being eliminated in the first round.

"It's an incredible accomplishment for an all volunteer team with very little sponsorship to go out and win a world championship in a professional class. We are extremely proud of that," Haddock said. "The best part of winning a championship is that it can help jump start your career and add value the following year and I hope we can continue to make progress."

Haddock also mentioned that the success he has enjoyed wouldn't have been possible without the continued support of his crew and sponsors who have stayed with him and kept him racing including Clevite Engine Parts and DJ Safety Equipment.

But while Haddock admits that he is still disappointed with the lack of a Funny Car class this season, he says that he is still excited to be able to go nitro racing.

"Anything to do with nitro and going fast is a lot of fun. We want to race, that is what we love and what we do," Haddock said. "The IHRA is a family friendly place where everybody is like a big family and will help one another while the NHRA is more competitive. They are under so much pressure to perform that they don't get the opportunity to be as friendly."

And racing with the IHRA has proven a good fit for the Hackettstown, New Jersey native as he gets ready to start a new year full of possibilities at the season opener March 6-8 in Baton Rouge.

-credit: ihra