INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 27) -- Admittedly, it's been awhile since Pennzoil driver Eddie Hill has forced other Top Fuel pilots to think twice about racing against him. But lately the crafty 63-year-old legend is routinely tuning his Screaming Eagle ...
INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 27) -- Admittedly, it's been awhile since Pennzoil driver Eddie Hill has forced other Top Fuel pilots to think twice about racing against him. But lately the crafty 63-year-old legend is routinely tuning his Screaming Eagle machine through several rounds of racing where he's the quickest and fastest car in the field. It appears that the time for the other teams in the Top Fuel class to start taking notice of Team Texan has returned.
Coming off his first final round appearance in three years in Brainerd, Minn., Hill expects things to only get better when the National Hot Rod Association circuit descends on Indianapolis Raceway Park this Labor Day weekend for the 45th Annual U.S. Nationals.
"It'd be real nice to follow that runner-up finish with a win in Indy," Hill said. "That would almost make our year right there. The car is certainly capable of continuing right where we left off in Brainerd. Speaking as the head tuner, a job I've held all season, I really can't see any reason why we can't keep this streak of awesome passes alive."
Awesome indeed. Hill reached the finals in Brainerd with a collection of impressive laps. He started the day out of the No. 2 position thanks to a 4.575-second, 316.82-mph blast in the final round of qualifying. The powerful finish on Saturday launched the team into Race Day action where they posted consecutive laps of 4.613 seconds at 265.69 mph, 4.569 seconds at 312.93 mph and 4.563 seconds at 313.00 mph before a belt-throwing 4.698-second lap at 249.63 mph in the finals that robbed him of the win.
"The very first day of racing this season we ran a career-best 4.535-second lap and I knew we might have a great racecar on our hands," said Hill. "Since then, we've certainly had memorable days. We set a career-best speed in Houston (316 mph) and then reset that in Englishtown when we were the second quickest of the day with a 4.595-second lap at 322.19 mph. Unfortunately, the only car to go quicker was Kenny Bernstein and he was in the other lane.
"I'm proud of the 4.70 at 305 we ran Saturday morning in St. Louis because the track was in less-than-desirable conditions that day. We were also low e.t. on Race Day in Seattle (4.613 seconds) and were the fastest and quickest on Saturday there (4.662 at 307.86.) Then we had top speed of Round 3 in Sonoma (318.09.) But until Brainerd, we didn't get it all together in one day. It's like we knew we could outrun people, but we hadn't shown them yet.
"Brainerd was a nice pat on the back for the team. The chemistry among this group is the best I've ever been around in 43 years of racing. We really play to each other's strengths and everyone trusts the other guy's abilities. That's so important. Plus, we have an open-door policy where I invite input from everyone. It took awhile for some of the younger guys to realize that I was serious about this policy, but now everyone knows that if they have an idea about how we can go faster, I'm more than willing to listen. When we do well it truly is a team effort."
Hill is the oldest driver to win a national event at the age of 60 (Denver, 1996.) He also holds the distinction of being the oldest driver to win a world championship having captured the 1993 title at the age of 57.