Positive First Race Impression

Todd Lesenko’s first venture into the NHRA Fuel FC “sand box” as driver for  legendary Jim Dunn came at Pomona last weekend and the Alberta-based racer certainly raised a few eyebrows……

While the team’s initial season numbers were not exactly earth shattering from a performance perspective – the reality is they qualified for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals event and then won their first round of competition together.   Both of those facts are huge and come despite the fact that Lesenko had “never” driven Dunn’s “Tap It Brewery” sponsored car before.  His first ever lap in that machine came during Thursday’s first FC class qualifying session.

Ultimately,  Lesenko qualified on the 16-car bump with a 4.306 secs lap at 277.07 mph in the rain shortened program which saw only 3 of 4 Pro sessions completed.   In round one on Sunday, Lesenko scored a truly major upset when he beat low qualifier Robert Hight to the stripe.  That match was a problem plagued affair with both Todd and Robert experiencing “issues” and with Hight’s (tire smoke) ultimately being more serious.

Todd Lesenko's debut driving for Jim Dunn was a very positive story from NHRA Pomona

“I never did see Robert and I did not know I had won until I came round the corner and took my helmet off,” said Lesenko. “When they told me – I was speechless.”

In round two,  Lesenko was paired against Ron Capps and his day came to an end then when the car blew its tires off immediately off the starting line.  Speculation was that an air leak to the clutch cannon caused a malfunction.   Capps roared to a winning 4.086 secs at 311.13 mph driving the Napa Dodge in the far lane.

“To qualify and to win our first round at our first race – I’m just extremely happy,” said Lesenko, who will drive for the full 23-race NHRA tour in 2012.  “This relationship being developed with the Dunn family is just outstanding – they are giving me the opportunity to do what I’ve always wanted to do.”

“I said coming into this season that my objective is a top ten finish in NHRA points,” Todd affirmed.  “We are leaving Pomona #8.   It’s obviously very early — but so far so good.”

Todd Lesenko & "Big Jim" Dunn

The Lesenko/Jim Dunn Racing season effort features an impressive alignment of both American and Canadian sponsorship.   While California-based “Tap It Brewery” is the primary backer Lesenko remains focused on what he considers the untapped potential for Canadian corporate backing within NHRA Pro class racing.

“I appreciate the fact that some Canadian companies have chosen to invest in my future and also in the future for drag racing in Canada,” Todd added.  “I plan to do whatever I can to improve the Canadian content aspect at this level of drag racing.”

Lesenko and Jim Dunn Racing will next race this coming weekend at the NHRA national event near Phoenix.

Posted by:  Bruce Biegler – Photos by:  Bruce Biegler