Hillary Will approaches first professional race with confidence POMONA, Calif. (February 7, 2006) -- In August of 2005, Hillary Will was hired by KB Racing LLC, owned by Las Vegas businessmen Ken Black and his son Kenny Black, to driver their...
Hillary Will approaches first professional race with confidence
POMONA, Calif. (February 7, 2006) -- In August of 2005, Hillary Will was hired by KB Racing LLC, owned by Las Vegas businessmen Ken Black and his son Kenny Black, to driver their new Top Fuel entry in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. This weekend Will makes her professional Top Fuel debut at the 46th annual NHRA CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway on the grounds of the LA County Fairplex in Pomona, Calif.
The Northern California native, who now lives in Ypsilanti, Mich., has just completed three vigorous weeks of testing behind the wheel of her Kalitta Motorsports-managed Top Fuel dragster. Will, a former Top Alcohol Dragster driver, has made the step to Top Fuel under the watchful eyes of legendary drag racer, team owner and chief tuner Connie Kalitta and crew chief Jim Oberhofer, known to the racing community as Jim O.
"Hillary has done a good job throughout preseason testing," said Jim O. "Her procedures, everything that she does, she does the same each time which is what we have emphasized." He went on to say, "the one thing that stands out about Hillary is her desire to be the best. She knows she has a lot to learn but as far as driving a race car she does excellent. She is starting to get a very good feel for the car and what it's doing. She's going to be a very good driver; she just needs time. We've got to be patient with her. On her side, her strongest asset is that she's a quick learner."
When qualifying starts on Thursday, Will feels she is ready. "As a result of all the testing that I've experienced both last year and the past three weeks, I feel like I have more confidence in the car," said Will, who was runner-up in Top Alcohol Dragster at this event last year, running 270.27 mph, the top speed of the race in that class.
"I'm as ready as I'll ever be for Pomona. Granted there is always more to learn. I can always learn something new but as far as the season opener and our first race, I feel I couldn't be more ready.
"During testing I've had a lot of different types of runs. Every time we go up there different things occur. We've had tire shake. We've had tire smoke. We had two 4.48 (second) runs at 327 (mph) this past weekend in Vegas. I've had runs where it gotten a little out of shape on the top end. Every single one of those runs has helped me gain experience. We even had one time in Phoenix where the tree didn't come down That's all stuff that helps me because sometimes you can't plan for things driving a (Top Fuel) dragster. You have to be ready for anything and these three test sessions have helped me prepare for the unexpected."
In her recent blog on NHRA.com, Will compared her testing to her diving career at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. She wrote: "The past couple weeks of testing reminds me of my days as a springboard diver... My swimming and diving team used to go on a winter training trip every year. We would leave the frigid, Massachusetts winter and go to sunny Florida for intensive training. Our team would eat, sleep, and breathe diving. It was a time to prepare for the season by perfecting old dives and most importantly trying new things. So, it's a lot like our testing."
Will is quick to credit her crew for not only preparing her car but preparing her for the start of the 2006 season. The crew for the KB Racing LLC race team is led by crew chief Jim O. The crew members consist of Kent Carley, Jason Davis, assistant crew chief Troy Fasching, Scott Finnis, Chris Glass, Chris Rose and Mac Savage.
"I had no idea how much work these crews do," added Will. "I don't even know if the long hours my guys put in are typical for a normal team but I do know that the guys here (on this team) are relentless. They even worked on Super Bowl Sunday. Because of testing, I'm more comfortable in the car and comfortable with my team. I appreciate their effort and I want to do well for them."
Will is aware that a lot of eyes will be upon her come this weekend. "I think that Pomona will be a little overwhelming, especially that first day. I've kind of prepared myself," reflected Will as she looked forward to her first professional race.
"I know there are a lot of fans that are excited to see a new team out here. I've been a fan for a long time and if I was still on that side of the fence, I know would be paying a lot of attention to the new KB Racing driver and team.
"No matter who's watching I've got to do my job, so I can't let the pressure get to me. Actually, now that we've tested I feel less pressure. I feel a sense of confidence going into this race. I'm going to do my best, that's all I can do."
Qualifying for Will and her KB Racing Top Fuel dragster begins with one session each on Thursday and Friday scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and concludes with two additional sessions on Saturday at 12 noon and 3 p.m. Will begins her quest for the CarQuest Winternationals Top Fuel title on Sunday with eliminations for all classes beginning at 11 a.m. All times are local Pomona time (PST) and subject to change at anytime.
Qualifying highlights for the 46th annual NHRA CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday (Feb. 11) from 10 p.m. until 12 midnight. ESPN2 will also air same-day television coverage of eliminations from 7:30 until 10:30 p.m. on Sunday (Feb. 12). The elimination show repeats early Tuesday morning (Feb. 14) from 3-5 a.m. Television times are Eastern Time (ET) and subject to change at anytime. Check local listings.
KB Racing LLC is owned by Las Vegas businessmen Ken Black and Kenny Black. In addition to Hillary Will's Top Fuel Dragster, KB Racing LLC also fields two Pro Stock cars, driven by Greg Anderson and Jason Line on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Anderson has won three consecutive POWERade Pro Stock Championships (2003-2005). Line finished third in the 2005 POWERade point standings and was honored with the 2004 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future award, presented to the most outstanding rookie in a professional category.
Kalitta Motorsports (www.kalittaracing.com), owned by the legendary drag racer and successful businessman Connie Kalitta, will field, in addition to Will's dragster, three additional nitro fuel cars -- two Top Fuel dragsters and a Funny Car -- in 2006 on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Doug Kalitta will drive the Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster, David Grubnic will handle the driving duties on the StriVectin-SD Top Fuel Dragster and Scott Kalitta moves from Top Fuel to the Funny Car for 2006.