National: Jay Payne Topeka final report

FireIce drag racer Payne wins again in Top Alcohol Funny Car TOPEKA, Kan. (May 23) -- One of the most prolific drag racers in NHRA history, Jay Payne, added to his legacy Sunday at Heartland Park Topeka by claiming his 38th national event...

FireIce drag racer Payne wins again in Top Alcohol Funny Car

TOPEKA, Kan. (May 23) -- One of the most prolific drag racers in NHRA history, Jay Payne, added to his legacy Sunday at Heartland Park Topeka by claiming his 38th national event victory at the 22nd annual O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals.

Payne drove his FireIce/BAE Ford Mustang Top Alcohol Funny Car past a red-lighting Clint Thompson in the money round to score his second national event win of the season. Earlier in the day, Payne beat Steve Burck, Sean O'Bannon, and Roger Bateman to reach his 71st career national event final.

"This was the hardest we've worked for a win in a long time," Payne said. "We probably shouldn't have won, to be honest. The car just didn't want to run this weekend. We changed head gaskets, motors, transmission ratios; you name it. We changed everything. The car has something really wrong with it. We were just in the right spot at the right time. If I had to describe this win in one word it would be 'lucky.'"

Payne's win over Bateman was the best race of the day, as he tracked down his adversary and passed him in the last few feet of the track, crossing the finish line just .002 seconds in front, an estimated distance of 11 inches.

"We won that one by a couple of thousandths," Payne said. "In the final Clint should have beat us, but he red lit, and that was after he was so sharp in the semis. Some times those lights bite you."

Despite being critical of his performance, Payne rode Brad Anderson's horsepower to four extremely consistent winning passes that were all in the low 5.7-second range. Combined with a remarkable .033-second reaction time average, Payne had the best combination on the property.

"It's weird because nothing we did seemed to show any improvement," Payne said. "We race again in two weeks in Chicago so we're going to take the fuel system home with us and take everything completely apart and see what's wrong.

"Don't get me wrong. I'm really happy we won and tonight we'll celebrate. It was just a strange race for us."

Michael Cordani, CEO of GelTech Solutions, which is the parent company of Payne's sponsor, FireIce, was quick to dedicate the victory to the 1.1 million firefighters the racecar salutes at each of its NHRA events.

"Jay and Brad are red-hot right now," Cordani said. "This is another great win for the team and another special moment for all the firefighters out there. We couldn't be happier with this partnership and we're already excited about the next race in Chicago where we're going to have several dozen firefighters visiting us. Now we'll get to show them a Wally trophy and then go out there and try to win them another one."

Payne's Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series schedule resumes June 3-6 at Route 66 Speedway in Chicago with the United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals.

-source: jay payne

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jay Payne