Top Fuel driver and team owner Buddy Hull extended his Camping World qualifying streak at the wheel of the Vertex Roofing and General Contractors Top Fuel dragster before dropping a first round decision to championship contender and No. 2 qualifier Justin Ashley in the 33rd Menards Nationals presented by Pet Armor at Heartland Motorsports Park.
With the support of a host of associate sponsors including DFW RV Center, Lucky’s Diesel Shop, CamperLife Superstore, Roof 4 Vets and 1st Class Graphics, Hull now has qualified for every event he has entered in 2022: the season opening Winternationals in Pomona, California, the Spring Nationals in Houston, Texas and, now, the Menard’s Nationals.
Although the Texan was victimized in round one by a mechanical issue, he said the experience was just part of the learning process, especially for a new team like his own.
“It doesn’t matter if you are a brand new team or a team that has been out here a lot of years,” he said. “We are on the edge of performance with these cars. Austin Prock (a member of the John Force Racing juggernaut) is a great example. They have an incredible program, extremely well-funded, and they are hurting engines. I don’t know if this is a new team’s growing pains issue or if it is a nitromethane racecar situation. These engines are the real deal and basically controlled bombs. When they go out there and they smoke the tires that soon (as was the case in today’s first round), they are going to blow up. That is just going to happen, there is nothing you can do about it.
“I always learn,” Hull said, “(and) one thing I learned is that two months off is too much time. But that isn’t the reason we had that issue in the first round. We just got aggressive and smoked the tires at the hit and it blew up. Taking that much time off and the guys not having their hands on the car isn’t good. Your first day back you are figuring out where the tools are stored. No matter what, moving forward we are going to get this band back together at least once a month no matter what, whether it is match racing or testing locally. We are going to work on staying sharp.
“There is nothing on earth I am more excited about than NHRA drag racing,” said the second year pro. “I love my businesses and I love my life, but the truth is I live for this. I get out of bed to win. This for me just means everything. This is what I want to do. We are learning and we will keep learning. Even though the first round didn’t go as well as it should have, we still had a good time. That is what it is all about. I am a note taker. When we get back to the pits, I set a timer to track how long it takes us to service (the car). I care about this program and I want to get better. If you are not critical of yourself, how can you improve?”