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Buddy Hull Optimistic After Funny Car Career Start at Gatornationals

Dreams came true this weekend for driver Buddy Hull, who made his Funny Car debut at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida. The weekend was full of firsts for Hull – the first time representing himself as a driver for Jim Dunn Racing, the first time competing at the Gatornationals and the first time going rounds in a Funny Car.

“As a competitor it’s a lifelong dream to race here,” said Hull, who was piloting the Vertex Roofers and General Contractors Funny Car. “It’s kind of like my first trip to Indy for the US Nationals. I feel the same way about the Gatornationals. I’ve always had serious FOMO about all the guys both in Top Fuel and Funny Car who race the Gatornationals every year. The only way that this weekend would have been better is if we had won a round or two for Big Jim and all our sponsors. It’s a big deal to me and my team to represent well.”

In his first few qualifying sessions as a Top Fuel-turned-Funny Car driver, Hull made several solid runs. His second qualifying pass was the best of the weekend, topping out at 304.87 MPH and a 4.116-second ET. Hull would have loved to have made a fourth qualifying pass, but the final round of qualifying on Saturday was rained out.

“To be honest with you, I feel more at home and more comfortable in that Funny Car after eight or nine runs than I ever did in my Top Fuel car. It’s where I belong,” said Hull. “I feel like I belong in this Funny Car, and specifically on this team. Which is why I know we’re going to continue to get better. I’m exactly where I should be.”

Going into race day on Sunday, Hull was competing from the No. 15 spot, racing against Bob Tasca III. Tasca III recently made headlines during the PRO Superstar Shootout in Bradenton for hitting a record speed of 341.68 MPH.

“We knew we were racing Bob Tasca, one of the most proven and best drivers out here,” said Hull. “But I treated it just like any other car and driver out there. I went through my standard procedures in the race car and was very focused today. Even more so than qualifying. During qualifying my focus is less on cutting the light, but on race day, I focused more on doing my job at the starting line. We both had a similar run, but Tasca just got the best of us this time. I look forward to racing him again in the future.”

During the run, Hull rattled the tires a bit and had to pedal his Vertex Funny Car. Despite the tough first round loss, Hull is confident that his team was able to capture a lot of data that will be useful for the rest of the season, particularly as they go into the Winternationals in Pomona in a couple of weeks.

“This whole weekend was a great experience, and I think the team is gelling together. Give us a couple of more races together and we’ll be a real solid unit,” said Hull. “It will be an orchestra and we’ll be playing the instruments beautifully together. It’s going to be a great season for us. I know we’re going to win some rounds this year. Everything that I do in the car is monitored, everything from the brake handle to the throttle pedal. We’re collecting data all the time, and I’m continuing to get better. Big Jim Dunn has plans on adjusting the car and we will continue to tune it up. He feels very confident in my abilities. I’ve shown him that I can handle the race car, and that makes us both super excited moving forward.”

This story was originally published on March 11, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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