Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Toliver Looking to Win Rounds, Win Races in Season's Final Four Events

It doesn't matter to Funny Car driver Jerry Toliver that this weekend's 22nd annual O'Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park is the third of six races in NHRA's Countdown to 1. He's not looking to be a spoiler to points leader Robert Hight or any of the other Funny Car competitors qualified for the Countdown. After a solid semifinal-round appearance at Dallas last weekend, he and his Jim Dunn Racing teammates just want to continue winning rounds with the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy to close out the season.

"This Funny Car class is a tough, tough class," Toliver said, "and this team is no different than any other team out here - we're just trying to win. When I line up against somebody in the other lane, I don't look at them and think, 'Oh good, that guy is first in points or second in points and I can spoil his weekend if we beat him.' I'm up there for me, for my team, for Big Jim, and for our sponsors, just trying to win the race and go on to the next round. I'm not out here to spoil anybody's day; I'm trying to make it a good day for me and my team. That's what we were trying to do in Dallas and that's what we will be trying to do this weekend in Memphis."

Toliver is looking to continue the late-season surge the CANIDAE car has made, qualifying in the top-half in two of the last three races including a season-best third at Dallas. After a strong qualifying effort at the Texas Motorplex, Toliver went on to defeat Jeff Arend in the first round and Bob Tasca III in the second before losing to Jack Beckman in the semifinals.

"We had our best weekend of the season at Dallas last weekend," Toliver said, "but that was last weekend and now we move on to the next race. We want to win some more rounds and hopefully win a race before the season is out. Jim has the car in a tuning window where it's really reacting to what he's telling it on a consistent basis, so we'll see if this hot rod can keep it going at Memphis."

A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the NHRA Mid-South Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Saturday, Oct. 3, beginning at 10:30 p.m. (ET). Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, Oct. 4, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 11:00 am (ET), and concludes with three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. (ET).

Kirk Weeks

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

CANIDAE T/F Team Takes First at Avenal – T/A Team Falls Just Short in Final

CANIDAE® Pet Foods Top Fuel Sand Drag Team, lead by driver Scott Whipple, took down the championship this past weekend with a thrilling hole shot victory in the T/F final over Geoff Gill. With daytime temperatures climbing well above 100 degrees, Avenal California's Sand Drag Track was once again home to fierce competition across all the divisions. Whipple and the T/F team earned the #1 qualfying spot going in, and then in an extremely close final, Whipple's 2.325 edged out Gill's 2.323 with the hole shot. The margin of victory being Whipple's reaction time of 0.13457 to Gill's 0.14107 for an overall edge of just .0045! Sunday's victory puts the CANIDAE Top Fuel team unofficially back on top in the race for the overall season championship, but by a mere 1 point. The 2010 Season Championship will be up for grabs when the season closes out with the Fall Nationals at Primm in October. Congratulations to Scott and the rest of the top fuel crew including "Famous" Amos Satterlee, Carl Boley, Amos Satterlee Jr., Scott Gailey, Daran Rupp, Bill Park and "Big E" for the great team effort at Avenal. And, a tip of the hat and thanks to Geoff Gill and owner/tuner Joe Bettencourt and his crew for another challenging weekend of racing and fierce competition on the track.

In the Top Alcohol final, Mike DeNunzio earned the Hole Shot as well but "slowed" to a 2.61 from his quicker qualifying rounds which wasn't quite enough to surpass Gary Mink's 2.46 in their final round match up on Sunday. Congratulations to Gary and the team on your win. Team CANIDAE's 2nd place finish on Sunday puts the T/A Team in 2nd place in the points standings. A big thank you to the T/A crew of Steve and Tony DeNunzio, Lee Gutierrez, Steven East, David Rice, Dennis Bartholomay, and the rest of the family that made it out to support the team. Both crews turned in great performances despite the grueling heat throughout the weekend. Thanks also to the NSDA and ASDI for putting on another great weekend of racing.

The 2010 season wraps up and season championships will be awarded at the 2009 "Dan Chittenden" Fall Nationals being held at the Primm Valley Resorts, October 23-25. With Avenal results this close there’s no doubt the season finale will provide plenty of fireworks for fans and race teams. There's still time to make your plans attend.

See you at the races!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Toliver Advances to Semifinals at NHRA Fall Nationals

Jerry Toliver and the Jim Dunn Racing team turned in their best performance of the season when the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy advanced to the semifinals today at the 24th annual O'Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex. Toliver defeated Jeff Arend in Round 1, Bob Tasca III in Round 2 before falling to Jack Beckman in the semifinals.

The CANIDAE car was fast right off of the team transporter as Toliver qualified a season-best third in Friday's night session with a 4.163 elapsed time at 302.55 mph. His speed was the second-best in qualifying and continuing its late-season surge, this was the second time in the last three races that the team had placed the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy in the top half of the qualifying field.

"Qualifying in the top half makes such a big difference," Toliver said. "You're assured lane choice and you're not always facing the No. 1, or No. 2, or No. 3 qualifier in the first round. Jim (team owner/crew chief Dunn) has the car in a tuning window where it really is reacting to what he's telling it. He just has so much experience with these hot tracks, and today he did a great job of getting the CANIDAE car to go from A to B and we were able to go a few rounds."

In the first round Toliver defeated Jeff Arend with an elapsed time of 4.277 seconds at 290.38 mph to Arend's 4.920 e.t. at 211.06 mph, reversing Arend's defeat of Toliver in their only other meeting this year three weeks ago at Indy. In the second round Toliver bested Tasca with a 4.354 elapsed time at 289.54 mph to Tasca's 4.588 e.t. at 261.17 mph but lost lane choice to Beckman in the semifinals.

In the semifinal round both drivers left the starting line with near-identical reaction times but Beckman pulled ahead as Toliver lost tire traction and had to pedal the car. Beckman also experienced trouble when he lost a cylinder but edged Toliver at the finish line with an elapsed time of 4.546 seconds at 218.55 mph to Toliver's 4.555-second e.t. at 214.01 mph.
"To say this was a good weekend for this race team would be an understatement," Toliver said. "We've been so hungry for a race weekend like this that I was ready to eat some of CANIDAE's Snap-Biscuits. This team works hard and is no different than any other team out here - it only wants to win.

"Yesterday somebody asked me if I was looking forward to playing the role of spoiler and I said I don't want to be a spoiler, I want to be a winner. I'm not out here to spoil somebody's day, I'm not out here to ruin his day, I'm out here to make mine. This team wants to win. Big Jim is getting this thing turned around and I'm proud of the guys."

The next stop on the 24-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series is the 22nd annual O'Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals on Oct. 2-4 at Memphis Motorsports Park, the third of six races in the NHRA Countdown to 1 for the 2009 Full Throttle Series championship.

Kirk Weeks

Toliver Qualifies No. 3 at NHRA Fall Nationals at Dallas

CANIDAE Racing Team Continues Late-Season Surge with Best Qualifying Effort of the Season

Turning in their best qualifying effort of the season, Jerry Toliver and the Jim Dunn Racing team continued to make late-season gains by qualifying No. 3 on the Funny Car grid for tomorrow's eliminations at the 24th annual O'Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex. In yesterday's night session Toliver drove the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy to the third-quickest elapsed time at 4.163 seconds at 302.55 mph. His speed was second only to pole-sitter Robert Hight who qualified No. 1 with a 4.109 e.t. at 305.46 mph. With today's hotter track conditions no drivers were able to improve on their times from Friday and Toliver held on for his best starting position on the season.

"How about that, No. 3," Toliver said. "I said coming into this race that we just needed to do a little better job getting this CANIDAE car to leave off of the starting line, and that has come around nicely this weekend. Everything's going in the right direction. I'm really pleased with the speed we ran last night and the way we got down the racetrack.

"It was really hot out there today but we still learned something. When the track gets hot like today, the clutch wants to lock up and shock the tires, so we just need to calm it down a little with the tune-up."

Toliver will face No. 14 qualifier Jeff Arend in the first round for the second time in the last three races. The CANIDAE Funny Car pilot will look to reverse his first-round loss to Arend at Indy at the U.S. Nationals.

"We face Jeff Arend in the first round and we're fighting for a position in the points, so it should be a lot of fun," Toliver said. "I'm really excited about the way the CANIDAE car is running. Jim's (team owner/crew chief Dunn) got this in a window right now that whenever he makes a move on it, whenever he does something the car is responding which is a huge thing. A lot of times you pick a spot where the car just doesn't respond to what you're doing, but right now the car is doing what he's telling it to do and I feel pretty good about it."

Kirk Weeks

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Toliver Sets Sights on Texas Motorplex for NHRA Fall Nationals

After leaving Charlotte and the newest quarter-mile on the circuit, Bruton Smith's zMAX Dragway, the NHRA Full Throttle Series now heads just south of Dallas to its original "supertrack," the Texas Motorplex, for this weekend's 24th annual O'Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals. The all-concrete track was built in 1986 and has long been a favorite of NHRA competitors including Jerry Toliver, driver of the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car.

"Texas Motorplex was state of the art when she was built," Toliver said. "It was all concrete. I remember coming here for the first time 10 or 12 years ago thinking, 'Man, this place is pretty neat,' and I still think that. It's a narrow groove with the concrete, but that being said, it's also a very fast racetrack. Billy (track owner Meyer) has done a great job over there and they've got great fans in Dallas. I always like going to Texas and everybody should be in for a good time."

The NHRA Fall Nationals is the second of six races in the Countdown to 1 and is also the second race in a tough four-races-in-four-weekends stretch. Despite the challenging schedule, Toliver and the Jim Dunn Racing team have been working hard and would love nothing better than to wheel the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy into the winner's circle before the season's out.
"We just need to improve our early numbers," Toliver said. "The CANIDAE car went down the track each time at Charlotte, and that's a great thing, so I think we're dialing it in. We just need to get the car to leave better and improve our 60-foot time. If we can pick that up, we've got a hot rod.

"We've got a few more races left so hopefully we can bag a win for the folks at CANIDAE and Lucas Oil and WileyX and make them all happy. We're competitive, and if we can get this thing leaving early we'll really have something."

A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the NHRA Fall Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Sunday, Sept. 27, beginning at 12:15 a.m. (ET). Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 11:00 am (ET), and concludes with three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. (ET).

Kirk Weeks

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

CANIDAE Racing Summer Recap & Race Store!

It's been a very busy 2009 season for Team CANIDAE. We haven't updated you much on the season's standings but a lot has been going on at the shop and around the country keeping us busy! First off I would like to extend our deepest condolences to our extended racing families in the Boat and Sand Drag Community. We have lost a few Great People - legends in the sports they chose. All of us at Team CANIDAE are deeply saddened by the loss of so many of our friends this year. We know they are all in a better place now and GODSPEED to Don Ermshar, Dan Chittenden, Richard Monteil, and Barbie Erwin. All were very sudden and unexpected and again our sincerest regrets go out to all their families.

As for the different CANIDAE Teams, we are currently doing very well in our MX outdoor ranks with a first place at the last race. The SCORE Class 10 car is currently 2nd in points coming out of Primm. The NHRA Funny car has been having its share of gremlins this year and hasn't had very much success. They do look great doing it though and are getting our message of Responsible Pet Ownership out to fans across the world. In the Sand Drag world we have had our share of trials and tribulations. With both Top Fuel and Top Alcohol in the top spots coming into this season, we have met with some great competition that has stepped up to battle with us race by race to try to keep us out of the “Top Dog” standings.

In Top Fuel, Scott and the Team CANIDAE Crew have been burning things up in the class and doing everything possible to take back the records and keep in the top spot in points. In March we actually raced the Baja 250 in Mexico one morning and then flew into Yuma from San Felipe Saturday night to qualify the fuel car for the Sunday race. It was pretty amazing, although fleeting, due to a very unexpected loss in the first round to the CWK team - great job guys! So far we have two wins in the New 300" Chassis that debuted this year and are #2 in points, only 10 behind Geoff Gill. The former Yankees Dragster took a lot of work and was a slight learning curve to get the combo down but after one race it was in the 30’s and soon to be 20’s with a personal best 2.26 at Avenal in May. Unfortunately we could not back it up for the National record. Not yet anyway. We have been torchin' parts and burnin' nitro to keep the CANIDAE Top Fuel car in the points race. Next race we will again be in Avenal on September 25th to 27th and we hope to see you there.

For the Team CANIDAE Top Alcohol gang we also were out in our new (new to us) chassis this season. Scott upgraded and we stepped into his old fuel chassis which is slightly longer, lighter, and stronger than the old chassis we had been running all these years. It got a proper retirement hanging from the rafters in the shop. It is a piece of art now for all to enjoy! Starting this season was very rough for us as our tune-up was a lot off and was hurting parts again at the first race of the season and we went out 1st round. Thankfully, with a collaboration of minds, we consulted Joe Bettencourt to assist in creating the new tune up for the car. At race 2 we were back in the game running in the 50’s the first day and made it to the finals but spun a main bearing and could not contest Nick Januik for the event win. By the next race we were back in the 40’s and were able to post a personal best 2.489 in Avenal this past May. Again, I have been coming up a little short against the current points leader Gary Mink. Gary and crew have been doing an amazing job with his new Hemi and again we swap rounds almost every time we meet. Love to race against them and this whole class has stepped up this year with blistering times from all the cars. Our cars are all prepped and ready with a few new tricks up our sleeves to edge out some of our competition. Thanks again, Joe! We have been running consistent 40's and the car could not be happier!

We hope everyone had a safe and fun summer and we can't wait to see you all at the races very soon! Please don’t forget to check out our New Online Store at for shirts, hats and apparel for you and your family! And keep in mind that for every 15 dollar item you purchase, CANIDAE will donate $1.00 to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation to fund cancer research in pets. Also, the first 200 orders will receive a free CANIDAE Racing Hat! Every day is a CANIDAE!

Mike DeNunzio

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Toliver Falls to Hight in First Round at NHRA Carolinas Nationals

The first of six races in NHRA's Countdown to 1 playoffs, the NHRA Carolinas Nationals, was completed today at zMAX Dragway. In a first-round match-up with Force Racing's Robert Hight, Jerry Toliver and the Jim Dunn Racing team matched its qualifying numbers but that wasn't enough to get past Hight. He went on to defeat Matt Hagan in the Funny Car finals.

"We ran our exact time from qualifying but that wasn't quite good enough against Robert," Toliver said. "That team showed they had a good hot rod by going on and winning the race. Overall I thought the CANIDAE car ran pretty good this weekend. It definitely ran more consistent and is responding to the changes Big Jim (team owner/crew chief Dunn) is making."

Toliver entered eliminations as the No. 14 qualifier in a tight Funny Car field, qualifying the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy with an elapsed time of 4.148 seconds at 301.74 mph to earn No. 3 qualifier Hight as a first-round opponent. In today's first round, Toliver ran a 4.147 elapsed time at 304.46 mph to Hight's winning 4.105 e.t. at 308.99 mph. Only four other drivers topped Toliver's speed in the first round.

"This is probably the most consistent the CANIDAE car has run all season," Toliver said. "Now we just need to pump up the performance a little bit and see if we can't go some rounds and win a race in these last five races."

The next stop on the 24-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series is the O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals on Sept. 14-27 at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas, the second of six races in the NHRA Countdown to 1 for the 2009 Full Throttle Series championship.

Kirk Weeks

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Toliver to Face Hight in First Round of NHRA Carolinas Nationals

In a tight Funny Car field, Jerry Toliver qualified the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy 14th for eliminations at the Second annual NHRA Carolinas Nationals at zMAX Dragway. The California native ran an elapsed time of 4.148 seconds at 301.74 mph and will face Force Racing's Robert Hight in tomorrow's first round. Hight qualified third with a 4.096 e.t. at 307.09 mph and Cruz Pedregon qualified No. 1 with a 4.087 at 303.91 mph.

"This CANIDAE car ran well right off of the truck and we made two full pulls yesterday," Toliver said. "We weren't quite able to back that up today, but I thought we had a pretty good hot rod when we left Indy and I still do."

Only fourteen hundredths of a second separated No. 1 qualifier Pedregon from the 16th qualifier and all but one of the 16 Funny Car drivers broke the 300-mph barrier.

"Can you believe how tight this field is?" Toliver asked. "We're just a little more than five hundredths slower than Robert and that dropped us all the way down to 14th. Everybody is is bunched together so who knows what can happen tomorrow. I have a feeling the fans are going to be in for a good show."

Kirk Weeks

Friday, September 18, 2009

CANIDAE Racing Launches Race-Gear Store to Benefit Charity and Race Teams

The FIRST 200 Orders Will Receive Free CANIDAE Racing Cap and a Portion of All Proceeds Donated to Help Fund Cancer Research for Pets

Race fans, rev up your apparel! You can now go to to purchase a wide assortment of high-quality tee-shirts, hats, hoodies, backpacks, lanyards, towels, special collectibles and other gear from one of the most dynamic group of racing teams on the scene. In addition to the NHRA Jim Dunn CANIDAE Racing Funny Car, CANIDAE Racing is the title sponsor of CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki XTreme Team Green, CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki Team Green amateurs and the Official Pet Food of Kawasaki Team Green Off-Road. CANIDAE also owns its own world-record-holding Sand Drag teams and Class 10 Off-Road racing team, with a new Trophy Truck team set to make its debut soon.

CANIDAE has launched the online store in support of all of these teams where fans of legends like Jim Dunn and new champions like Tommy Hahn can purchase official race gear and merchandise.

"Creating an online store for our fans is just another example of how popular the CANIDAE Racing Teams have become," said Team CANIDAE’s Mike DeNunzio. "This new store lets us fill the demand for official tee-shirts and other merchandise that race fans keep asking for."

In addition to helping support all of the CANIDAE Racing Teams, CANIDAE Pet Foods will donate one dollar for every item purchased of at least $15 to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation to fund cancer research in pets. CANIDAE Pet Foods has a long history of donating to this fund through various charitable events throughout North America.

The store, which opened earlier this week, will continue to add new merchandise and collectible gear. In celebration of its launch, the store will offer for a limited time all items at 20% off the original price and an exclusive $3-off coupon good toward the purchase of any CANIDAE All Natural Pet Food product with every racing store purchase. The first 200 orders will also receive a free CANIDAE Racing Cap compliments of Team CANIDAE Racing.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Toliver Looking Forward to NHRA's Return to Charlotte

After the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series' auspicious debut in Charlotte with its inaugural race last year in Charlotte, CANIDAE Racing Funny Car driver Jerry Toliver is like a lot of his peers and looks forward to the series' return this weekend for the Second annual NHRA Carolinas Nationals at zMAX Dragway. Track owner Bruton Smith's latest addition to NHRA's quarter-mile lineup (he also owns The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway, and Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.) is a state-of-the-art facility that drew huge crowds to this premiere drag race in the heart of NASCAR country.

"Bruton Smith seems to raise the bar every time he builds a new race facility," Toliver said. "All of his tracks are just gems on the circuit and the new dragstrip in Charlotte is certainly no exception. What a great facility and the number of fans that came out to last year's race was unbelievable. It was a great event and it's easy to understand why they are going to race there twice next year. We're certainly looking forward to putting on another great show for the Charlotte fans."

In the last two races Toliver has had a quarterfinal finish at Reading (Pa.) and a season-best qualifying effort at the U.S. Nationals at Indy, so the Jim Dunn Racing pilot looks to continue that performance trend when he first lines up the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy on the zMAX Dragway starting line starting with first-round qualifying on Friday.

"We ran the third-quickest e.t. in our final qualifying session at Indy, so now we need to work on backing those kind of performance numbers up," Toliver said. "The good thing is this CANIDAE car is responding to what Jim (team owner/crew chief) is asking it to do. That hasn't always been the case this year. We've got a good hot rod here, so I'm fired up going back to Charlotte."

A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the NHRA Carolinas Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Saturday, Sept. 19, beginning at 11:30 p.m. (ET). Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, Sept. 20, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 11:00 am (ET), and concludes with three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. (ET).

Kirk Weeks

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Team CANIDAE Class 10 Places 3rd at SCORE Terrible's Primm 300

View pictures from the race here and look for a final race report coming soon. Congratulations Team CANIDAE!

Friday, September 11, 2009

CANIDAE Class 10 Live Coverage at SCORE Terrible's Primm 300

Log on for real time tracking of the CANIDAE Class 10 Offroad car #1008 as Team CANIDAE attempts another victory this weekend in Nevada. Head over to on race days and click on car 1008 in the Class 10 division.

Cheer Team CANIDAE on as they contend for first place in what looks to be a competitive field. In honor of the CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods commitment to support canine cancer research, Team CANIDAE has volunteered to donote all prize monies to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation.

Click here for SCORE International website.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Toliver Falters in First-Round at U.S. Nationals

The good news for Jerry Toliver and the Jim Dunn Racing is they turned in their best qualifying effort of the season at this weekend's Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O'Reilly Raceway Park to start in the top-half of the Funny Car field for eliminations. The bad news is their CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy couldn't quite match that performance today and fell to Jeff Arend in the first round.

Entering eliminations as the No. 10 qualifier, Arend had an elapsed time of 4.174 seconds at 301.47 mph to edge Toliver who steered the CANIDAE car to a 4.194 e.t. at 294.56 mph.

"A couple of guys were smoking the tires before us, so Jim (team owner/crew chief Dunn) slowed it down and backed it off a little bit, but the car just didn't run the number we needed," Toliver said. "Even though Jeff's car outran us, I also got tattooed on the light and that doesn't make me feel any better."

Toliver made an impressive run with the the third-quickest pass in yesterday's final qualifying session, bested only by the 4.095 elapsed time of No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight and the 4.098 e.t. of Cruz Pedregon to qualify seventh for Funny Car eliminations.

"All in all, it was still a good weekend even though we hurt a motor on that run," Toliver said. "That wasn't good. But the real story is we ran a good number yesterday (third-quickest pass in the final qualifying session). The good thing is the car responded and did what Jim asked it to do. We've got a good hot rod here and I'm excited going forward."

The next stop on the 24-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series is the 2nd annual NHRA Carolinas Nationals on Sept. 17-20 at zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C., the first of six races in the NHRA Countdown to 1 for the 2009 Full Throttle Series championship.

Kirk Weeks

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Success at Indy No Stranger to Dunn

Drag racing Hall of Famer Jim Dunn can reach in his memory bank and pull from more than a few successful appearances at O'Reilly Raceway Park as he prepares his CANIDAE/Lucas Oil Funny Car for driver Jerry Toliver at this weekend's 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at ORP. Unlike most, though, those successes at NHRA's most prestigious race have come as both a driver and then as a team owner/crew chief.

At the 1981 U.S. Nationals Dunn drove his Dodge Omni all the way to the Funny Car finals before losing to Raymond Beadle. Dunn matched that effort as a team owner and crew chief in 1994 when driver K.C. Spurlock advanced to the final round of Funny Car before losing to Cruz Pedregon.

"When I drove I raced against the best and the worst, and I've been classified as both," Dunn quipped. "But I loved the driving. The working-on-it part you had to do if you wanted to run because you didn't have a bunch of mechanics. We just did it in our garages. I enjoyed working on them but I enjoyed winning better. A win's a win, no matter if it's the U.S. Nationals or just a local dragstrip."

Dunn did himself one round-win better at the '99 U.S. Nationals when he wrenched his own Pontiac Firebird with driver Frank Pedregon past Jim Epler for the Funny Car crown. Ironically, Epler was driving a second WWF-sponsored car for team owner/driver Jerry Toliver. Dunn even found success in the now-defunct Big Bud Shootout, a special event held on U.S. Nationals weekend where the top-eight drivers who earned points through qualifying throughout the previous year battled for the $100,000 winner's check. In 1997 Kenji Okazaki won the Shootout in a Dunn-tuned Dodge Avenger when he defeated Tony Pedregon in the finals with a 4.972 elapsed time at 308.32 mph.

"The U.S. Nationals win in '99 with Frank Pedregon when he beat Jim Epler was a big one," Dunn said, "but they are all big. The one I'm probably the most proud of was when we won the Big Bud Shootout with Kenji Okazaki in 1997. The last round he ran in the 'fours' and at that time there were only about five guys that had run in the 'fours,' so I think I enjoyed that one the most."

The Jim Dunn Racing team is coming off Toliver's advancing to the quarterfinals at Reading two weeks ago and look to build on that performance and create some memories of their own at O'Reilly Raceway Park this weekend.

ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise more than 10 hours of coverage of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil beginning with a two-and-a-half-hour qualifying show on Sunday, Sept. 6, at 11:30 a.m. (ET). A two-hour qualifying show will air later that day on ESPN2 at 5:00 p.m. (ET). On Monday, Sept. 7, ESPN2 will televise a one-hour NHRA Race Day from the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals preview show at noon (ET), followed by a five-hour eliminations show starting at 1:00 p.m. (ET).

Kirk Weeks