DAVID POWERS MOTORSPORTS EYES STRONG SHOWING IN THE COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP PITTSBORO, Ind. (Aug. 25, 2007) -- Texas homebuilder and former Funny Car barnstormer David Powers' return to NHRA drag racing started as a part time affair, but...
DAVID POWERS MOTORSPORTS EYES STRONG SHOWING IN THE COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
PITTSBORO, Ind. (Aug. 25, 2007) -- Texas homebuilder and former Funny Car barnstormer David Powers' return to NHRA drag racing started as a part time affair, but just a few years into his come back, the 66-year-old Iowa native can now proudly boast of overseeing the only Top Fuel operation with two cars in the Countdown to the Championship field.
Assembling an elite race team from startup to championship-contender is a task that can take years, but Powers had the foresight to surround himself with a talented group of veterans from day one.
"I feel that as a young racing organization of just three years, the accomplishments have been well beyond my expectations," Powers said. "Through the support of our great sponsors like Matco Tools, Valvoline, and Vintage Design, who believe in the value we deliver, and our great people, we have been able to achieve a high level of success in a short amount of time."
Racing in just his second full season as a professional, David Powers Motorsports driver "Hot Rod" Fuller, who amassed 13 national event victories in NHRA's sportsmen ranks, has proven his worth amongst the categories best drivers. These days, it's not uncommon to hear the diminutive driver from Las Vegas lumped in with the likes of Doug Kalitta and Larry Dixon when discussing the best drivers in the Top Fuel ranks.
Veteran Richard Hogan called the shots on Fuller's car for just eight races in 2005, delivering instant stability and leadership to Powers' new project. After his departure to Melanie Troxel's team in July 2005, the door opened for Powers to hire championship tuner Lee Beard.
One race later, the tuning brain trust included Rob Flynn and the duo of Beard and Flynn immediately delivered the team's first win, with Fuller knocking off Tony Schumacher in the final at Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park to capture his first career Top Fuel win. He was the ninth different driver Beard tuned to the winner's circle and before the season had ended the part-time team managed to get Fuller into the POWERade top 10, despite having raced in just 15 of 23 events.
"When David first talked to me about going to work for him, he had a vision about building a team with multiple cars," Beard said. "We started with the existing program, moved to Indianapolis, put the proper crew in place, and had success with the one car. In '06, we won two races and had a top-five car and David's vision became a reality when Matco Tools committed to sponsor a second car with Whit Bazemore. Now, the Fuller car is a championship contender and Bazemore's car also made the Countdown. It's been a great opportunity to help David build his organization into a two-car powerhouse team."
Last season, the brawny Fuller scored two victories in five final rounds, along with two poles, en route to a fifth-place finish in the POWERade Top Fuel standings. At the '06 U.S. Nationals, Powers announced he would add a second Top Fuel dragster to his stable with backing from tool industry giant Matco Tools. Longtime Matco racer Whit Bazemore was tabbed to pilot the new rail shortly thereafter.
Fast forward nearly a year and David Powers Motorsports is the only team with two cars in the Countdown to the Championship. With limited funding and cars sporting the colors of Valvoline and Caterpillar, along with eight races in a plain white dragster affectionately was dubbed "Great White," Fuller and his Flynn-led group have been the surprise of the Top Fuel category in 2007, earning more points than any other team over the first 17 races of the year.
"The guys that we hired were championship-caliber guys and the young guys have molded well," Flynn said. "I thought we had a good package last year and we made it better over the winter. I thought we could run better and we have. The guys have put the car together well and there have been very few mistakes. They get along well and have fun. We've had with different uniforms all season and have had fun with the CAT folks and even when running the white car. We have very strong team chemistry."
With an entirely new race crew, Fuller began the year with a string of 4.4-second elapsed times that rivaled the U.S. Army dragster of four-time series champion Tony Schumacher. He scored a second straight Phoenix win and earned Caterpillar's first win in NHRA drag racing by knocking off his teammate in the final round at Denver in the Wagner CAT car. Fuller also has claimed four poles this season and has an averages starting position of 3.2. No longer a little Super Comp driver from Northwest Arkansas, the fan favorite amassed a 184-point lead over Schumacher through 17 races and will lead the Countdown field into the 53rd U.S. Nationals.
"We've had an awesome year so far, but it's not over yet," Fuller said. "Now we have to step up and show people what we're made of. We just lost 174 points, so we all have to dig deep and work hard to stay on top. There are a lot of good cars that we have to beat and good cars that didn't make the Countdown. It's not going to be easy, but we're excited for the challenge."
Bazemore made a seamless transition after nearly two decades in a Funny Car to his new Matco-backed rail. Reunited with Beard and a group of his cycling buddies, the recently-relocated Oregonian became just the 15th racer in NHRA history to earn poles in both Top Fuel and Funny Car when he paced the field at Houston. He just missed becoming the 14th racer to earn wins in both nitro ranks when Fuller edged Bazemore in the final round at Denver in the first-ever 1-2 finish for DPM, and earned the No. 7 spot in the Countdown.
"It's a tribute to David that he was able to build a team like this so quickly," Bazemore said. "He and Lee built this team; it shows Lee's organizational ability and his ability to spot talent. That goes from Rob Flynn to everyone on the team. You're only as good as your people and our guys are the very best in the sport. They're some of the best people I've been fortunate enough to work with. We've struggled at times, but with the Countdown, NHRA has thrown us a lifeline. We were 438 points out and now we're only 60 points back. It's time for the Matco team to come up performance-wise to where Rod and Rob have been all season."
With the point standings now reset and the Countdown set to kick off at the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, the final six races should be one for the memory. With one quarter of the Countdown field in his camp, Powers, a farm boy from Iowa, might end up a world champion on Nov. 5.
"It would be an unbelievably awesome accomplishment that words can't describe," Powers said. "We have the opportunity because we are the only multi-car team with two cars in the Countdown. Pure odds say we have a 25-percent chance. The success of our teams thus far has been very good, and as we believe in our people. We clearly have a shot to win the thing."