HOT ROD FULLER 2008 NHRA MIDSEASON RECAP BROWNSBURG, Ind. (July 3, 2008) -- A season ago, Hot Rod Fuller was playing the lead part in what turned out to be a dramatic finish to the 2007 NHRA racing season. Now the fiery Las Vegas racer has a new...
HOT ROD FULLER 2008 NHRA MIDSEASON RECAP
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (July 3, 2008) -- A season ago, Hot Rod Fuller was playing the lead part in what turned out to be a dramatic finish to the 2007 NHRA racing season. Now the fiery Las Vegas racer has a new role, that of the hunter. Through the first 12 races of the 2008 NHRA racing season, Fuller and his David Powers-owned Caterpillar Top Fuel team rank fourth in the arduous Top Fuel division. With the bulls-eye no longer on his back, Fuller and his Rob Flynn-led Caterpillar team overcame a slow start to the 2008 NHRA season and have moved within striking distance of the second and third place drivers, Antron Brown and Larry Dixon. The former Super Comp and Gas stalwart has one win and one pole this year along with recording low E.T. and top speed honors multiple times. In this Q&A, Fuller talks about his first-half performance and his outlook on year two of NHRA's Countdown to the Championship.
Q: Asses the first half of the 2008 NHRA racing season for Rod Fuller and the Caterpillar team.
FULLER: We're right on par with where I thought we'd be. I like where we're sitting. There were some rule changes and we have a few new crew members. I felt if we could be top five going into the Western Swing, we'd be happy with that. That's right where we are. We started slow, but we have a race win, a final round, a pole and the car is starting to be a lot more consistent. That's important to not give races away.
Q: What's your outlook going into Western Swing?
FULLER: My goal is to get our team into second or third position in the standings. I think that's a feasible goal. I don't think it's great to be No. 1, but you don't want to be farther down in the top 10 either going into the Countdown. I believe our two David Powers teams should be second and third going into the Countdown at Charlotte.
Q: How do you feel about the second year of the Countdown to the Championship?
FULLER: I like how NHRA changed the points system. NHRA and the fans felt it needed some tweaking. They're now rewarding the No. 1 drivers and it's a six race shootout, not two races to determine the champion. It's better.
Q: Grade your first half performance for the Caterpillar team.
FULLER: I don't think I've been driving as good as I did last year. My knee surgery didn't go as well as I thought and there were some complications. I've also been trying to lose weight, which I thought would help the car, but it hasn't. Ther car was built for me at 185-pounds, not 170. I feel like the last three races I've been driving better and we've been performing better. I would give us "B" so far.
Q: What's it like working alongside Antron Brown?
FULLER: It's been great. He's a really cool teammate. We've been working together and their success makes both of our teams stronger. The DPM organization is very strong between our two cars. We've been to five finals, won three races, and have three poles; that's not bad. We're excited to build on that and hopefully get these two David Powers cars into a few more final rounds.
Q: What are your feelings on the new 1,000-foot rule?
FULLER: I'm not that political, but I'm not for this. In my eyes, it's a knee-jerk reaction. There are better ways to slow these cars down. It will confuse the fans to see us running in the three-second range. My favorite years of watching Top Fuel racing was when they ran in the high fours at around 300 mph. Everything in the history of drag racing is based on the quarter mile. Look at every magazine from Car & Driver to Motor Trend and they measure performance in the quarter mile, not 1,000 feet. There are a lot of smart people in our sport, get them together and figure out a way to slow these cars down and make them safer.
Q: Do you enjoy "the Dark Side" rivalry with Tony Schumacher and the DSR teams?
FULLER: It's been pretty fun. I really believe it is a rivalry. He may not think so, but I do. It's not like we're best friends, but you have to respect them. They have won a lot of races and championships and we want what they have. I was trying to have fun and he took a personal stab at me. The important thing is that the fans are enjoying it. Last weekend at Norwalk, I think more people were excited about us racing in the second round than anything else. We're 2-2 against the Army team and I think it's good for the sport to have good matches and rivalries. People pay attention to the Red Sox and Yankees or the Cowboys and Redskins and NHRA needs more of that.