General

First Round Matchups Set For Sunday’s Pep Boys NHA Funny Car Allstar Callout

NHRA

Robert Hight dropped his jaw across the room as he called out the red-hot Bob Tasca III for the opening lap of the Pep Boys NHRA Allstar Funny Car Callout on Sunday during a ceremony at the Top Eliminator Club at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.

Hight, the points runaway leader and the special event’s top tier based on a year of qualifying efforts, was widely expected to call out Tim Wilkerson, the qualifier’s No. 8, who finished in the first round had lost at both events prior to the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA US Nationals, but instead went with Tasca and won two of the last three events.

If anyone thinks that one of these other seven drivers is easier than others or that one of them is a gimme, something else is coming. Funny Car has never been more competitive. The whole Auto Club team got together and tried to figure out what the best strategy was, and you know when you come in number 1, you have to have an advantage, you get to pick, you have the track choice on the first lap, but I want to pick the guy who’s been winning some here lately in Bob Tasca.

“Our cars are running really close as you saw last night and I’m getting up to race that team. They get to race me and if you want to win this thing and take the money home at the end of the day, you have to beat a guy like that so we are going to get it out of the way in the first round.”

“That’s how it should be,” Tasca said. “The two cars that are as good as anyone here on the first lap, stop and see what we can do. We’ll see you soon.”

No. 2 seed Ron Capps, still impressed with Hight’s decision, then called out Wilkerson, the man who beat him at this track in the final round of last year’s US Nationals.

“You should have seen all the drivers backstage when we heard that – that was a big step. That’s what this is all about, and it made everyone grin and look at each other like, ‘Wow, this is a great time.’ We had a meeting this morning and had our options but I’m still sore from last round last year We had lane choice I almost counted the trophy and we got Wilked And it’s on and he’s one of my favorite guys here because you don’t know what you’re dealing with. He’s a great guy, and sometimes he’ll do what he did in the last round last year.”

Wilkerson happily accepted the challenge from his NAPA Auto Parts teammate.

“Hopefully I can get the old Ron back and we can do our best,” he said. “Thanks to Pep Boys, it’s really special to be involved in this and everyone knows I’m a NAPA man through and through. I have a NAPA Auto Center, so and then NAPA and I are close, and Ron, and I are close, but we put on our helmets, I kick him in the ass.”

Matt Hagan was also looking for a small reward when he called out Alexis DeJoria, who beat him in the semifinals of last year’s Auto Club NHRA Finals to end his championship bid, also beating him two weeks ago in Brainerd.

“I think about last year and when I was trying to win my fourth championship and we were full in the semi-finals and it cost me a fourth championship. We put Capps on the trailer [in round two[ and did what we needed to do, and she went up there and loaded me up. So I want a little revenge from that and she outpedaled me last weekend and you know, the last race so we looking for a little payback with Alexis.”

“After last week, when we did a pretty good job, I felt like if anyone had a target on our back with Matt Hagan it was me,” said DeJoria. “We’ve got a good car, the team’s awesome. I mean, these guys are killing it but we have yet to win a race. Hell, we’d love to win this one. I’m really excited that Pep Boys is back out here doing their thing with a race within a race. It’s exciting for us. exciting for the fans, and it’s on.”

That left two of the class’ old-time rivals, Cruz Pedregon and John Force with the fourth and final pair. Despite not getting a callout or being able to call someone out, Pedregon was ready.

“I was sitting there looking at all the opponents and for some reason, I did not feel like getting called out because that’s going to bring out the devil on me,” he said. “But I think the fans are going to get a treat. John’s car is running really good. I tell people all the time. John’s age really doesn’t mean anything. I feared him as much as I did when I raced him when he was in his 40s and he was really good then, so I think it’s gonna be a hell of a race. I want to thank the NHRA for seeing that there needs to be an all-star race, and this is an all-star group here and I’m just happy to be a part of it. 

Force, the 16-time world champ, acknowledged the deep-staging battles that he and Pedregon have had this season, adding a little fuel to the fire.

“I really thought Hagan was gonna take me and make it Beauty and the Beast, but I got my buddy Cruzer. It’s gonna be fun. They talked about that roll out seven inches. Cruz, you’ve done it to me. I’ve done it to you. When I go in this time. I ain’t stopping.”

Sunday, Sept. 4
11:45 a.m.– Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout autograph session at the Pep Boys midway display
11:30 a.m.– Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout opening ceremonies 
1:20 p.m.– First round for Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout. The driver who makes the quickest winning run in the opening round will pick their semifinal opponent.
2:45 p.m.– Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout semifinals.
4:55 p.m.– Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout final round
 
Television coverage of the Pep Boys NHRA All-Star Funny Car Callout will take place on Sunday from 4-5:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1 (FS1).