Indianapolis, Aug 30-Sept 04, 2017: Labor Day weekend was a particularly agreeable occasion for Californian, John Lombardo Jr. who won the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Top Alcohol Funny Car event. Held at the Lucas Oil Raceway, it was his maiden victory at Indy.
Qualifying third with a 5.42, Lombardo defeated Canadian Tyler Scott, Swede Ulf Leanders, and championship contenders Annie Whiteley and Doug Gordon en-route to a memorable triumph.
In their final-round debuts at the U.S. Nationals, California rivals Lombardo Jr., from Brea, Orange County and Gordon from Paso Robles, it was Lombardo who accelerated away first, pulling ahead to claim the Top Alcohol Funny Car national event trophy. He recorded 5.485 seconds at 269.08 mph while Gordon, hampered by mechanical concerns registered a runner-up pass of 5.715 seconds at 262.64 mph.
The weekend was distinguished on several accounts. “On Sunday night,” said Lombardo, “we surprised ourselves when we logged a 5.40 in demanding conditions. None of us had expected it but it was a pleasure to pilot.” Overall, it had been one of the tougher weekends for the team. “Car owner and crew chief, Rick Jackson, showed his commitment to the program,” added Lombardo. “He gave it everything all weekend and race day came to us. It was really special.”
For Jackson and several of his crewmembers, it was their second Indy win; their first occurred when Von Smith won in 2008.
The JHE connection
Jackson Lombardo Racing was formed in 2014 when two successful Southern California-based Top Alcohol Funny Car teams led by driver John Lombardo Jr. and owner/crew chief Rick Jackson combined resources. They employ JHE for technical advice. “Joe’s a very knowledgeable and competitive individual,” remarks Jackson.” “Well-versed on every function of the internal combustion racing engine, it’s in his diversity where he shines: his talent is not just related to a specific class.”
John Force Racing
At the Indy Nationals, John Force Racing qualified second (Robert Hight), third (Courtney Force) and fourth (John Force). Although Hight recorded low E.T. 3.867, J.R. Todd claimed victory.
Earlier this season, Force had delivered seven consecutive elimination passes quicker than 4.5 seconds, averaging 3.934 seconds. These performances followed an erratic stretch where the 16-time champion was succeeding only in completing track passes under power about 50 percent of the time. He had hoped to turn the corner before Indy.
“Indy’s the Mothership,” Force had said—the sixty-eight year old has claimed a record 11 No. 1 qualifiers at Indy. “You just want to be part of it. There’s an old saying in IndyCar, ‘You can win the championship, but you’ve got to win the Indy 500.’ In drag racing, you could win the championship, but if you ain’t won Indy, you ain’t won.”
The JHE connection
During the past two years, JFR crew chief Jimmy Prock has been collaborating Joe Hornick Enterprises, mostly in the development of valve gear.