"Hot Rod" Fuller rolls into Memphis Motorsports Park with a brand-new phrase bouncing through his mind -- "I'm the defending champ!" MEMPHIS, Tenn. (August 15) -- A longtime sportsman racer who was named the Super Gas Driver of the Decade for...
"Hot Rod" Fuller rolls into Memphis Motorsports Park with a brand-new phrase bouncing through his mind -- "I'm the defending champ!"
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (August 15) -- A longtime sportsman racer who was named the Super Gas Driver of the Decade for the 1990s, Fuller realized his dream of turning professional last season when Houston-based custom homebuilder David Powers offered him a ride in the Valvoline Top Fuel dragster, a 330-mph quarter-mile monster that makes 8,000 horsepower.
Fuller jumped at the chance, and in just his 10th professional outing with the team -- Memphis' annual O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals -- Fuller scored his first professional-level victory. It was a banner moment in the career of the Rogers, Ark., native, who grew up calling Memphis Motorsports Park his home track.
"This racetrack is where I fell in love with drag racing when I was a little kid," Fuller said. "We'd come over here with my dad when he was racing or with other friends of ours that were racing and I'd sit up in the stands and dream about drag racing one day. To come back here as an adult with one of the best race teams in the world and win the race was beyond anything I could have imagined. It still blows me away."
Now Fuller returns to MMP with three Top Fuel wins under his belt, including two wins this season, his first full campaign on the POWERade tour. For the first time he is the defending champion of a national event, although he collected 13 national event wins when he was a sportsman racer so the experience isn't entirely new to him.
"It's very exciting, I have to admit," Fuller said. "I was lucky enough to win quite a few races when I was a sportsman racer, including a bunch of high-dollar bracket races right here at this track. But to come into town as the defending Top Fuel champ is like nothing else. It says you belong among the best in the sport.
"I couldn't think of a better time for us to defend a race title because the Valvoline car is running so strong right now. My crew chief Lee Beard and the rest of the guys have really busted their butts this summer to make us consistent and fast and we have been a win waiting to happen ever since our last victory in Englishtown."
Fuller has maintained a top-10 ranking all season and is currently sixth overall heading into this weekend's race. He is just 25 points out of the top five with seven races left on the schedule.
"Last year we only ran 15 out of 23 races and we finished in the top 10, which I think shocked everyone out there," Fuller said. "This year, we've been running with the top teams and we're staying in the hunt for the championship. It sure would help if we got another win in Memphis. Maybe some of that karma from when I was a kid is still lingering in the air."