ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., May 16, 2001 - For whatever reason, the partnership between Al Hofmann and Jim Dunn works. More than likely it's simply a matter of trust and mutual respect. Dunn knows Hofmann will baby his Pontiac Firebird Funny Car while ...
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., May 16, 2001 - For whatever reason, the partnership between Al Hofmann and Jim Dunn works. More than likely it's simply a matter of trust and mutual respect. Dunn knows Hofmann will baby his Pontiac Firebird Funny Car while pushing it to the edge of the envelope. Hofmann knows that Dunn will provide him with the fastest racecar possible. Together they mix to form a volatile cocktail - for their opponents that is.
Last month at the Mac Tools Thunder Nationals in Bristol, Tenn., the two teamed up for their best national-event finish together when the Mooneyes Firebird advanced to the final round of eliminations before bowing out to Ron Capps. Currently 11th in the Winston championship points chase, the 53-year-old Hofmann has 15 career victories in 32 final rounds, and would like to add a few more wins to his total before the season comes to an end.
How has your season been up to this point? - "It's been up and down but we're doing better than we did last year. The performance level of the Mooneyes Pontiac Firebird is up quite a bit, we just need a little bit of luck to go along with it. Going to the finals in Bristol pumped up the team but then we got the wind taken back out of us in Atlanta. The field is so competitive that there are going to be a lot of good cars that don't get qualified. It's been that way so far and it's going to continue. There are 20 cars that can run in the 4.90s at any time."
What did you learn in Atlanta that will help you in the upcoming races? - "That we're going to have to run in the 4.80s if we're going to win one of these things. That's what it's come to. I guarantee that before the end of the year we'll see an all-4.80 field. These cars have been able to run in the heat and run well. In Atlanta it was hot and the track wasn't great and cars were still running in the 4.80s."
Is the Firebird a good racecar in these kind of conditions? - "Without a doubt, as far as I'm concerned the Pontiac Firebird is the best body out there right now for downforce. You take (John) Force's three cars out there and they all went out in the first round at Atlanta. That's competition."
Looking at the immediate future with Englishtown, Topeka and Chicago, what can we expect from the Jim Dunn/Mooneyes team? - "Well Jim is a great tuner and I think we're going to be doing really well. I'm looking forward to the next few races. I think we can pick up the pace here and shoot for finishing in the top five in points. It will be tough but I think we can do it. We're starting to get a handle on the car now. It's been running in the low 4.90s and the motor looks brand new. Jim knows and I know it's time to step on it a little bit even if we have to hurt it. There's a lot of room for improvement on this Mooneyes Pontiac Firebird."
Do you still enjoy driving for Jim? - "Without a doubt. There is nobody else I'd rather be racing for. I've had a few other offers, but as far as I'm concerned I will finish my racing career with Jim. Our relationship just works. We're so much alike and we want the same thing - we both want to win. You need that in a team. It's really coming together now that we're in our second year together. By the middle of the season I think you'll see a big change in how our car is running. I hope he has a lot of confidence in me too. The team is starting to come together and doing a good job. John (Dunn) has been doing a good job going out and getting us sponsorships and keeping the right funding for the car. We've got as many good parts out in our trailer and can run as hard as anybody out there. I'm doing the best I can for him. I try and treat the car as if it's my own. You've got to respect the car. Everything is expensive on these things, and if you're not careful and do the right things, you can put yourself out of business pretty quickly."
Are there any advantages for a one-car program? - "I wouldn't say there are advantages. It's more rewarding when you see somebody like (Bruce) Sarver go out there and lead the points and do really well with one car. If you've got a good running racecar you can take out almost anyone. Who I think the two and three car teams have hurt are the people like Dale Creasy. It's put a few cars out of business out there. When you have someone that's dedicated his whole life to the sport like he has and to see him put out of business is really unfortunate. I really don't think it's fair."
Looking towards the end of the summer what do you hope to accomplish? - "My ultimate goal is to win the championship. I don't know if it can happen this year but we're going to try and finish the best we can. We would like to get a top-five finish this year and then maybe go on next year with a shot at the championship."
How long can we expect you to continue racing? - "As long as I can. You see someone like Chris Karamesines out there at 73 in a Top Fuel dragster - that gives you a little bit of hope to keep going. I feel good, I feel like I can go another five years for sure."
Do you still enjoy the sport? - "I love it. Especially this year. I'm really getting back into the racing thing, being in my second year with Jim, staying out on the road in the motor home - I eat, breathe and sleep drag racing. It's great."