This wasn’t the start to the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Series season nitro Funny Car driver Jim Campbell envisioned.
Campbell, in his fourth season driving for legendary Jim Dunn, failed to qualify for the Winternationals in Pomona, Calif.
Campbell’s best elapsed time was 4.672 seconds at 264.55 mph in the final qualifying session Feb. 8. Alex Miladinovich qualified No. 16 with a 4.554-second pass.
“We have a brand-new chassis, brand-new car, brand-new fuel system, brand new everything,” Campbell said. “Just some of the bugs didn’t get worked out prior to the Winternationals. There were a few mistakes and then the car in Q4 shook and I pedaled it. We missed (getting in the field), but it is what it is.”
Campbell said his team didn’t make any test laps prior to the Winternationals, and now he’s ready to turn the page and bounce back at the Arizona Nationals Feb. 21-23 at Wild Horse Motorsports Park in Phoenix. Dunn’s Funny Car will have primary sponsorship from Cattlemen’s Cut, a popular jerky brand in the Oberto Snacks portfolio.
“Some of the things that happened (at the Winternationals) were just the new car gremlins got it,” Campbell said. “I think we have it figured out and we should run extremely good in Phoenix and from here on out. We went back to the five-disc clutch, new fuel system, new brain box, everything. We didn’t get the opportunity to test because the car was just being finished being built. We wish we could have tested we would have found these little gremlins and been fine. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to, but I think we have them worked out and we should run fantastic the rest of the season. We are looking to run a lot more 3-second runs.”
And, Campbell knows that starts with finding some consistency.
“Consistency is exactly what we want,” he said. “With all this new stuff that we have I think it is really going to be a good year. I think we were all bummed a little bit at the Winternationals, being only 17 cars and being a full-time team we didn’t qualify, but at the same time we learned a lot of stuff and I think we are going to be really good and I’m really excited. I think Big Jim has it figured out. I like the Phoenix track. I went to my first semifinal in Phoenix (in 2017). It’s a long track and the air temperature is good there and it’s a good place to make power. I think we will do really well and will bounce back (from the Winternationals).”
Campbell was quick to point out he loves driving for Jim Dunn and his family.
“We have built up a great friendship and he’s a mentor and I’m just stoked that he took me under his wing and invited me back for a fourth year,” Campbell said. “It’s an honor and privilege to drive for him and I have built up a bond with the whole family, Jim, Diane and Jon Dunn.”
Campbell has competed in 85 NHRA national events in nitro Funny Car, highlighted by his two semifinal performances.