Seattle: Jim Dunn Racing preview

CANIDAE, Jim Dunn Racing to Defend its Funny Car Crown at NHRA Northwest Nationals SEATTLE, July 15, 2009 - A day after Major League Baseball's annual All-Star game, Jim Dunn, team owner and crew chief of the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil Funny Car, doesn't...

CANIDAE, Jim Dunn Racing to Defend its Funny Car Crown at NHRA Northwest Nationals

SEATTLE, July 15, 2009 - A day after Major League Baseball's annual All-Star game, Jim Dunn, team owner and crew chief of the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil Funny Car, doesn't mind paying homage to one of the game's greats, Hall of Fame New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra, when he says he hopes this weekend's NHRA Northwest Nationals is dejà vu all over again for his Jim Dunn Racing team. You see, last year at this race at Pacific Raceways Dunn tuned the CANIDAE car all the way to the winner's circle and presented driver Tony Bartone with his first Professional victory in the Funny Car class. This year Bartone returned to his racing roots in Alcohol Funny Car and Dunn has a different driver in Jerry Toliver, but the Hall of Fame owner/tuner obviously wouldn't mind adding a sixth career win to Toliver's Funny Car resume.

"Getting Tony's first win wasn't as good as me getting one," quipped Dunn. "No, that was cool to get Tony his first win; I was glad to get one for him. He had worked hard for it. If you're right, you're right, and on that day we were right."

Last year Bartone qualified the CANIDAE Chevy fifth with an elapsed time of 4.092 seconds at 303.37 mph and faced former Funny Car champ Gary Scelzi in the first round. Bartone made a solid 4.181-second run as Scelzi went up in smoke and then defeated Mike Neff in the second round to set up a semifinal match-up with 2007 Funny Car champ Tony Pedregon. In a good side-by-side contest Bartone ran Pedregon down with a 4.252-second elapsed time at 287.29 mph to Pedregon's 4.376 e.t. at 246.84 mph to advance to the money round against Ron Capps. In the final round the engine started going away on the CANIDAE car but Bartone held on to turn on the win light with a 4.454 e.t. at 238.17 mph to Capps' 4.708 at 227.46.

"The track was loose in the middle last year," Dunn said. "The only time we ran well was the Friday night session in qualifying. In the first round we de-tuned it and ran an '18' (4.18), and then a '25' in the semis. Everybody said we didn't run very well, and I just tell 'em we had lane choice in three of the four rounds so it was running better than the guy I was racing."

Dunn and Toliver are anxious to get back on the track and build on the momentum they were gaining before Denver.

"We've kind of lost our clutch combination, so we're going to try and set it up like we did last year and see what happens," Dunn said. "We're making power because we're running as fast as anybody from the half-mark to the finish line, but it just won't accelerate for the first 400 feet. We're usually about 16th (fastest) at the 60-foot mark, at 330-feet were about 14th, and then at the 660-foot mark we're about third, but at that point it's too late because you've already lost three-tenths of a second.

"We know we've got power because we ran 296 on Saturday at Denver, so now we've just got to figure it out. That's why racing's hard. We've got the power, now we just need to get the clutch setup, but we'll be alright."

A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the 22nd annual NHRA Northwest Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Saturday, July 18, beginning at 7:00 p.m. (ET). Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, July 19, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 11:00 am (ET), and concludes with three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 9:00 p.m. (ET).

-credit: jdr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Tony Bartone , Ron Capps , Jerry Toliver , Mike Neff