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Hull Thrilled to Wow Fans With Mooneyes Funny Car at Winternationals

Ron Lewis Photography photo

Full circle moments were made this weekend when Funny Car driver Buddy Hull debuted the Jim Dunn Mooneyes Funny Car body for the first time of his career at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip.

“Growing up, I literally sat in the stands and watched Big Jim and Kenji Okazaki win the Big Bud Shootout with the Mooneyes Funny Car,” said Hull. “It’s crazy to me that I have those memories as a kid, and now as an adult I get to run the Mooneyes Funny Car. This weekend I’ve spent some time with the Mooneyes folks, and they’re just awesome people. To see the relationship that they have with Jim, Jon and Diane, always proves to me time and time again that they are so good to their sponsors. And I’m happy to be a part of that.”

Hull, driver for Jim Dunn Racing, emphasized how appreciative he was to have so much sponsorship support at the Winternationals – especially considering qualifying was cut short on Saturday due to rain. Many of his sponsors, like Mooneyes, are based in California and have strong ties to the area.

“It’s Southern California. It’s the birthplace of drag racing,” said Hull. “Jim and Jon, they are one of the last of the Mohicans to have their team out here in Southern California. For them, it’s home. And if it’s home for them, it’s home for me too. That’s how I look at it. We had a lot of incredible guests come through this weekend. Mike Lescure was here, of Lescure Mechanical Services, one of our main sponsors for this season. And of course, the Mooneyes folks too. So many people came out to support us, and it’s just one big family. Everyone fought through the weather, and rain delays allowed time for some really great conversation.”

After only two qualifying sessions, Hull entered race day in the No. 16 spot, fighting past a crowded Funny Car field. In the first round, he was knocked out by No. 1 qualifier Matt Hagan, who went on to advance to the final round. Rain moved into the Pomona area just before the final round and Hagan will face John Force in the final that will be concluded at the Arizona Nationals in two weeks.

“The truth is, it doesn’t matter who I run, or where we each are qualified,” said Hull. “I do my best to ignore who I am running against, because I don’t care if it’s Matt Hagan, John Force, Ron Capps, Cruz Pedregon, etc. No matter who it is, I’ve always treated the car the same way. It’s my job as a driver keep the car in the middle of the lane. May the best driver and the best car win. A lot of times fans don’t fully grasp the concept that this is a racing TEAM. The driver has the duty of driving the car the correct way; the cylinder head guy must make sure the heads are put together and bolted on the car correctly; the supercharger guy has to ensure the blower is fresh and it makes the boost it needs to make. And then Big Jim is making sure the right tune up is made on the car. It is a full team effort, from end to end. And from an outside perspective, fans don’t always realize the magnitude of how each single person on a team really impacts the race car. Everybody on the team matters.”

Progress is slow but steady, and there have been many small wins that keep the Jim Dunn Racing team motivated that they are moving in the right direction. With 18 races left this season, Hull is still very confident that they will continue to make significant strides.

“I am getting more comfortable in the car. Our car has been a little bit ornery to us so far this season,” said Hull. “And I’m hard on myself. I’m a critic of myself, because I always want to do my best to be the very best race car driver I can be. I’ve done what I’ve needed to do and caught everything the car has done. I’ve gotten my foot off the pedal, and I’ve done my job to keep the thing in one piece, the entire season. We haven’t damaged a single car part, and I am proud of that. This season is 100% a marathon and not a sprint. With every run we make in the car, we’re making changes to it to make it go faster. And sometimes, when you make changes to make it faster, it’s one step forward and two steps back. And that’s just because we’re trying different things. At this rate, I think we’ll really have our stuff together by Vegas. I have zero doubts. These things just take some time. I am reminding myself of that constantly.”

Hull made many NHRA appearances this weekend, between being a guest for Funny Car 101 at the Nitro Alley Stage on Saturday and leading the Sealmaster Track Walk on Sunday. During the track walk, Hull made one of the most exciting announcements of his life – he and wife Madi Hull will be welcoming their first baby into the world by the end of the NHRA season.

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“This weekend driving the Mooneyes car has made me incredibly nostalgic about my childhood,” said Hull. “And now I’m about to become a father and bring a new baby into this crazy drag racing world. I’m already looking at Junior Dragsters and Junior Funny Cars. Madi and I are so excited for everything to come this year.”

Hull and the Jim Dunn Racing team will next compete at the NHRA Arizona Nationals in Chandler, Arizona on April 5-7 at Firebird Motorsports Park. There will be one qualifying session on Friday, April 5 and two qualifying sessions on Saturday, April 6. For tickets or more information on the NHRA Arizona Nationals visit nhra.com.

This story was originally published on March 25, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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