Jim Dunn Racing - Race Reports

Paul LeeNovember 10, 2010
It’s Back to the Future for Lee

Nine months ago this week Funny Car driver Paul Lee was preparing to climb into the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX/Kymco Chevy for the first time in competition as his new team, Jim Dunn Racing, prepared for the 50th annual NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.  Fast forward those nine months to the same quarter-mile facility and the season opener becomes the season finale as the NHRA Full Throttle Series makes its 23rd and final stop of the season for this weekend’s 46th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. 
 
With a degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School and two graduate degrees from Rutgers, one can see that the 53-year-old Lee is not your typical drag racer.  The start of this season marked the first opportunity for the veteran Top Alcohol Funny Car driver to drive a Top Fuel Funny Car full time after select NHRA Full Throttle Series stops over the years (10 races prior to the 2010 season including the U.S. Nationals).
 
“Hard to believe the season is coming to an end,” Lee said.  “Seems like we were just pulling into the gates at the Fairplex for the Winternationals.  It’s gone fast but it’s been a blast.  You have to understand, when I strapped in the CANIDAE car for the first time, I was literally realizing a dream I had since I was 13 years old.  I’ve been drag racing ever since I was able to drive a car.  What’s crazy is one of the main reasons I got fascinated with drag racing was because I saw a guy named Big Jim Dunn in a movie called Funny Car Summer.  I made my mom take me back four times to see it again.  And now I’m pulling into Pomona to drive for the drag-racing legend himself.  How cool is that?”
 
The Jim Dunn Racing team got off to a slow start to the season but has been impressive the last half of the season.  Lee had a stretch of three consecutive races (Brainerd, Indy, Charlotte 2) that saw the New Jersey native advance to the quarterfinals, and he posted career-best numbers both in elapsed time and speed at Reading last month.  Lee and the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX/Kymco Chevy will finish 13th in the final Funny Car points standings.
 
“Racers are never completely satisfied with their season unless they are holding the championship trophy at the end, but I still say it’s been a pretty good year for Jim Dunn Racing.  We didn’t have a lot of racing luck early on, plus the team was trying to get used to a new driver, so we got off to a little bit of a slow start.  But this last half of the season the CANIDAE car has improved every race and really become a consistent car getting down the track.  Now we need to get ready to do it one more time.”
 
NHRA race fans can catch all the action live as it happens from Auto Club Raceway at Pomona by visiting www.CanidaeRacing.com to follow the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX/Kymco Funny Car throughout qualifying and eliminations.  Log in to view reports and photos direct from the Jim Dunn crew and driver Paul Lee . . .  Don’t miss a second of the action!
 
Two hours of qualifying coverage for the NHRA Finals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Saturday, Nov. 13, beginning at 10:30 p.m. (ET).  Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, Nov. 14, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 10::00 a.m. (ET) followed by two-and-a-half hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 9:00 p.m. (ET).

 

October 27, 2010
Lee Anxious for Return Trip to The Strip

The NHRA Full Throttle Series makes its second trek of the season to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for this weekend’s 10th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, and Funny Car driver is looking for the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX/Kymco Chevy to fare much better the second time around.  The series returns to the track for its penultimate race after a three-week break in the schedule since visiting Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.  Lee set career bests in both elapsed time and speed there with a 4.089 seconds e.t. at 308.14 mph.      
 
“It will be good to get back on the track,” Lee said.  “It’s always nice going to Vegas with a first-class facility and a fun city to visit.  What’s not to like? 
 
“But we had a tough time here in April.  I was new to the team and it was only our sixth race together.  We were still dialing in a new clutch system, the team had to account for a driver that was a hundred pounds lighter than last year’s, so we had a lot of balls in the air to start the season.  We missed the top 12 on Friday by like a thousandth of a second and then just couldn’t get down the track on Saturday and missed the field.  What a difference coming into our second time around here.  We had our season-best numbers last race at Reading and had three quarterfinal finishes in a row (Brainerd, Indianapolis, Charlotte) before that, so I expect more of the same when we hit The Strip.”
 
NHRA race fans can catch all the action live as it happens from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by visiting www.CanidaeRacing.com to follow the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car throughout qualifying and eliminations.  Log in to view reports and photos direct from the Jim Dunn crew and driver Paul Lee . . .  Don’t miss a second of the action!
 
Ninety minutes of qualifying coverage for the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Sunday, Oct. 31, beginning at 1:00 a.m. (ET).  Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 10::00 a.m. (ET) followed by two-and-a-half hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 9:00 p.m. (ET).

 

Canidae Jim Dunn Funny CarOctober 7, 2010
Reading Area Familiar Ground for Lee

New Jersey native Paul Lee always enjoys trips back to the East Coast now that his home address has changed to the 714 area code, and this weekend will be no exception as the NHRA Full Throttle Series prepares for the 26th annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. And it was just a little more than a year ago that the Wharton Business School graduate was the CFO for Nick Boninfante Sr. and his Pennsylvania-based Boninfante Clutches, so after a weekend off Lee is excited to get back behind the wheel of the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX/Kymco Chevy in somewhat familiar territory.

“I’m looking forward to going back to Reading,” Lee said. “Growing up next door in New Jersey, it’s still an easy drive over to Maple Grove for my family and friends. Plus, I worked awhile for Boninfante Clutches as their CFO, and they’re headquartered just up the road in Yeadon (Pa.), so maybe I’ll get to see some old friends over the weekend. I’ve even still got my home in the area, so it will be good to get back there.”

The likeable 53-year-old Lee and his Jim Dunn Racing teammates have enjoyed a late-season surge consecutive quarterfinal finishes at Brainerd, Indy, and Charlotte before a rare foul start cut their day short two weeks ago at Dallas.

NHRA race fans can catch all the action live as it happens from Maple Grove Raceway by visiting www.CanidaeRacing.com to follow the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car throughout qualifying and eliminations.  Log in to view reports and photos direct from the Jim Dunn crew and driver Paul Lee . . .  Don’t miss a second of the action!

I kind of stubbed my toe at Dallas (red light), and that ended a pretty good run we had going,” Lee said. “That’s part of racing, but I’m anxious to get back on the track and put that behind me. Big Jim (team owner/crew chief) and the guys have been working hard, we’ve got a solid-running CANIDAE car and we want to finish the season on a strong note.”

Two hours of qualifying coverage for the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Saturday, Oct. 9, beginning at 10:30 p.m. (ET). Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, October 10, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 10::00 a.m. (ET) followed by two-and-a-half hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 9:00 p.m. (ET).

 

September 29, 2010
Lee Falls in First Round at Dallas

Paul Lee, driver of the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX/Kymco Funny Car, saw a string of three consecutive quarterfinal finishes (Brainerd, Indy, Charlotte) come to a quick end yesterday when he fouled out of his first-round matchup with Cruz Pedregon during eliminations at the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex. Pedregon, a winner last week at Charlotte, had the second-quickest time of the round with a 4.101-second e.t. at 296.11 mph as Lee tripped the red light at the hit. Matt Hagan defeated John Force in the Funny Car finals

“That was my fault all the way,” Lee said. “I should have just stuck to my normal game plan at the line, but Cruz had been running really strong so I thought I would really try and chop the (Christmas) Tree and give us a better chance.

“I wish I had an excuse and I could say it was mechanical, but the only thing mechanical that went wrong was with my foot moving to fast. I was terrible, so lesson learned. In the future I will just stick to my normal routine and if we get beat, we get beat. But you’ve got zero chance of winning if you don’t even give yourself a chance to get off the line.”

The next stop on the 23-race 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule will be the fourth race of the six-race Countdown to 1 playoffs, the 26th annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., on Oct. 7-10.

 

September 24, 2010
Lee Not Trying to be Spoiler in Countdown

Paul Lee Getting Speeding TicketContrary to his recent on-track exploits, Paul Lee isn’t trying to play the roll of spoiler and upset anybody’s quest for this year’s Full Throttle Series Funny Car championship as he prepares for this weekend’s 25th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex located 40 miles south of downtown Dallas. But the driver of the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX/Kymco Chevy has enjoyed a late-season surge that has seen him advance to three consecutive quarterfinals (Brainerd, Indy, Charlotte), and through the first two of six races of the playoffs in the Countdown to the Championship the 52-year-old Lee has scored more points than five of the 10 qualifiers for the Countdown.

“We’re not trying to ruin anybody’s chances,” Lee said. “We have enough trouble just worrying about what’s going on in our lane, not who we’re racing or where they are in the Countdown. We’re just trying to go up there and win the round like we have all season, only now we’re catching a few breaks and this CANIDAE car is consistently going from A to B. We keep gaining on it a little bit at a time, but we’re not there yet.

“The hot tracks we’ve been running on the last few races haven’t hurt us, either. That can be the great equalizer between us and the bigger teams. Big Jim (team owner/crew chief Dunn) seems to have a pretty good warm-weather tune-up, and a lot of these teams overpower the track. That’s why you see them busting such big numbers on Friday nights when the sun goes down and the track cools off. We’re never going to be in the “.0s,” but we can stay consistent and give them all they want on Sunday.”

After taking out last year’s Funny Car champ, Robert Hight, in the first Countdown race at Indy three weeks ago, Lee got the best of points leader John Force at the series’ return trip to Charlotte last week and his 102 points scored are more than Countdown contenders Hight, Capps, Wilkerson, Worsham and Tony Pedregon have scored to start the six-race playoffs.

“I don’t care if it’s John Force or John Jones, I go up to the starting line with the same attitude each time and that’s to win,” Lee said. “We don’t have the luxury of gathering data times three like the multi-car teams, so each time we go a round that’s just that much more information for Big Jim to work off of. I think we’ve benefited from the extra rounds the last few races, even in the rounds we’ve lost. At Charlotte we lost to Beckman in the second round but we were one of the few to get down that left lane and we ran with him side by side the length of the track. We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully it will result in some more round wins.”

NHRA race fans can catch all the action live as it happens from the Texas Motorplex by visiting www.CanidaeRacing.com to follow the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car throughout qualifying and eliminations. Log in to view reports and photos direct from the Jim Dunn crew and driver Paul Lee . . . Don’t miss a second of the action!

One hour of qualifying coverage for the NHRA Fall Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Sunday, September 26, beginning at 1:00 a.m. (ET). Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. (ET) followed by three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. (ET).

 

September 20, 2010
Lee Advances to Quarters for Third Consecutive Race

Funny Car driver Paul LeeAfter three misses this season, Funny Car driver Paul Lee finally saw the win-light come on while facing 14-time Funny Car champion John Force in the other lane of an NHRA Full Throttle Series race.  Lee drove the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy past Force in today’s first round of the third annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at zMAX Dragway, his third consecutive quarterfinals finish.
 
Ironically, Lee defeated Force Racing’s Ashley Force Hood and Robert Hight in the previous two races at Brainerd and Indy, respectively, before besting the team’s namesake for the first time in his career.  The 52-year-old Lee was losing cylinders at the top end of a 4.605-second run at 225.71 mph, but it was enough to get the better of Force who lost traction and pedaled to a 5.110 e.t. at 180.81 mph. 
 
“That wasn’t our best run by any means, but it was obviously good enough to win,” Lee said.  “Sometimes you just have to have a little racing luck to get a round-win, and it’s nice to see a little racing luck go our way.  We’ve definitely had the racing breaks go against us at times this year. 
 
“Don’t get me wrong, Big Jim (team owner/crew chief Dunn) has this CANIDAE car going from A to B real consistently and we’re starting to get the results we deserve.  We’ve gotten some round wins the last few races and kept the other teams honest even when we’ve lost.  I see no reason why we can’t run this way the rest of the season and who knows what might happen. 
 
In his quarterfinal round matchup, Lee lost a tough side-by-side run against Jack Beckman who had a winning elapsed time of 4.239 seconds at 292.58 mph to Lee’s 4.280 e.t. at 283.97 mph.  Beckman went on to the final round before losing to Cruz Pedregon.
   
The next stop on the 23-race 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule will be the third race of the six-race Countdown to 1 playoffs, the 25th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas, on Sept. 23-26.

 

September 16, 2010
Lee Looks for Streak of Strong Runs to Continue at Charlotte

Paul LeeAfter a quarterfinals showing two weeks ago at the NHRA Full Throttle Series’ biggest race of the year, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Paul Lee is confident the Jim Dunn Racing team will continue its late-season surge at this weekend’s third annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at zMAX Dragway. The New Jersey native has actually driven the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy to back-to-back quarterfinals (Brainerd, Indy) and sees no reason that trend can’t continue in Charlotte.

“That was by far the best U.S. Nationals I’ve ever been a part of,” Lee said. “I had a career-best run in qualifying on Saturday and then bettered that in our first-round win over Robert (Hight). Not only did the CANIDAE car perform well on the track, but the weather was almost perfect and the crowds were great. It was just an awesome weekend.”

Lee defeated No. 1 qualifier Ashley Force Hood in the first round to advance to the quarterfinals at Brainerd and then turned around and defeated her teammate, Robert Hight, to advance to the round of 8 at Indy.

“I don’t care who you are, even if you’re John Force Racing or Schumacher Racing, it’s an accomplishment when you win a round in this class,” Lee said. “We’ve been able to get the car down the track on a consistent basis and that’s resulted in some round wins. The car was running great even before Brainerd, but we didn’t have the results to show for it. We just had some tough first-round losses to tough competition. On the Western Swing Force beat us at Denver and Capps got us in Seattle, and we raced them both tough all the way through the beams, so Big Jim (team owner/crew chief Dunn) has the car running well.

“And this CANIDAE crew has been doing an awesome job. They never make any mistakes and the tune-up has us making consistent runs down the track, so that’s a good combination. We have a car now that will run maybe not at the top, but it will run with a lot of them. That’s what you need, a car that will get down the track every time. We showed that at Brainerd and Indy, and I think we can keep it going and finish the season strong."


NHRA race fans can catch all the action live as it happens from zMAX Dragway by visiting www.CanidaeRacing.com to follow the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car throughout qualifying and eliminations. Log in to view reports and photos direct from the Jim Dunn crew and driver Paul Lee . . . Don’t miss a second of the action!

One hour of qualifying coverage for the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Sunday, September 19, beginning at 10:00 a.m. (ET). Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. (ET) followed by three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. (ET).

 

September 7, 2010
Lee Turns in Career-Best Numbers En Route to U.S. Nationals Quarterfinals

Canidae Grain Free SalmonFor the second consecutive race Funny Car veteran Paul Lee drove the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy to the quarterfinals of an NHRA Full Throttle Series race, this time at the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil at O’Reilly Raceway Park.  Three weeks ago at Brainerd Lee drove past No. 1 qualifier Ashley Force Hood in his first-round matchup, and today the New Jersey native posted a career-best elapsed time for the second consecutive day to get past Force Hood’s teammate, defending Funny Car champ Robert Hight.

“It’s twice as cool (to win a round at Indy),” Lee said.  “Brainerd was awesome, but anytime you win a round at Indy, it’s almost like winning a race.  At least that’s from our perspective since we’re not competing for the championship.  Anytime we win a round, that’s a big plus for us.  We’re out here having a good time and bottom line, that’s what it’s all about, having fun.” 

After qualifying 14th with a then-career-best elapsed time of 4.120 seconds at 300.20 mph in Sunday qualifying, Lee bettered that mark in today’s first round of eliminations with a winning elapsed time of 4.114 seconds at 277.26 mph.  No. 3 qualifier Hight ran a 4.473 e.t. at 267.37 mph after losing traction at half-track.    

“Big Jim (team owner/crew chief Dunn) has the tune up and this CANIDAE crew is doing an awesome job – they never make any mistakes,” Lee said.  “The car is awesome.  We’ve got the tune-up, the clutch is coming around nicely, and we’re making consistent runs down the track.  The first couple of runs this weekend we just had some dumb luck.  The car was on an awesome run every time, and first the input shaft broke and then a then a spark plug shot out.  I mean, little stuff that very rarely happens happened, and then we finally put it altogether yesterday and ran that 4.12.  It’s been wanting to do that every run now.  We have a car now that will run maybe not at the top, but it will run with a lot of them.  That’s what you need, a car that will get down the track every time.”

In his quarterfinal round matchup, Lee had a rematch with Ashley Force Hood.  Both drivers left together and ran side by side to half-track before Lee lost traction and Hood Force drove around him.  Force Hood had a winning elapsed time of 4.137 seconds at 306.95 mph to Lee’s 4.446 e.t. at 206.16 mph.  She went on to defeat her father, John Force, in the finals for her second consecutive U.S. Nationals championship.

“This is the biggest race there is,” Lee said.  “For me personally, Englishtown is my favorite race because that’s my home track and that’s where I grew up, but besides Englishtown, this is it, this is the biggest race.  What made this weekend special was the unbelievable weather we had.  It just made it enjoyable to be out here and the fans were packed in here every day.  I’ve raced at probably six or seven U.S. Nationals (Top Alcohol Funny Car and Top Fuel Funny Car), not a lot like a lot of guys out here, but for me this is the most fun I’ve ever had at the U.S. Nationals.  It was awesome.”

The next stop on the 23-race 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule will be the second race of the six-race Countdown to 1 playoffs, the 3rd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C., on Sept. 16-19.

 

September 1, 2010
Jim Dunn Racing to Unveil New Car at Kick-Off Party for U.S. Nationals

Canidae Salmon Car for IndianapolisIn conjunction with this weekend’s historic 56th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, Jim Dunn Racing will unveil a special paint scheme on its CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy Funny Car at the U.S. Nationals Kick-Off Party on Thursday, Sept. 2.

The new colors will showcase one of CANIDAE’s newer products, CANIDAE® Grain Free Salmon Formula, made entirely without grains and featuring high quality, cold water Pacific Salmon meal. The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Kick-Off Party will start at 4:00 p.m. (ET) at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis prior to the start of the NFL preseason game between the 2007 Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals. The unique fanfest will feature a driver autograph session including CANIDAE Funny Car driver Paul Lee, display of race cars, and live music.

“What a great way to introduce one of our new products,” said Frank Hon, CANIDAE director of operations. “We’ve been getting a wave of positive feedback from dog owners for its healthy benefits and remarkable palatability, so we’re excited to share it with our great NHRA fans.”

“CANIDAE has been a great sponsor and we enjoy a great relationship with them,” said Jim Dunn, team owner and crew chief. “We’re proud to introduce one of its new products on our Funny Car and continue to promote its message of Responsible Pet Ownership. Now we’ll have to be sure and get some Salmon Formula for our team dog, Daisy.”

Qualifying for the NHRA Full Throttle Series’ most prestigious race weekend begins on Friday, Sept. 3, with Labor Day eliminations beginning on Monday, Sept. 6.

 

September 1, 2010
Lee Excited For Return to Indy

Paul Lee was pretty excited when he first rolled through the gates of then Indianapolis Raceway Park over Labor Day weekend in 1989 with his Top Alcohol Funny Car.  Fast-forward 20+ years and the excitement is still there for the New Jersey native as he prepares for this weekend’s 56th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil at O’Reilly Raceway Park, this time behind the wheel of the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy Funny Car.      

“Everyone looks forward to Indy, myself included,” said Lee.  “Growing up in New Jersey I always knew when they were racing at Englishtown, but I also paid attention when it was time to race at Indianapolis.  I first raced at Indy in 1989 when I brought my Top Alcohol Funny Car and I remember being the very first one in line for Friday night qualifying.  I did one better in 2005 when I pulled double-duty there, running in Top Alcohol Funny Car and then trying to qualify in Top Fuel Funny Car.  That was pretty crazy.  I was both working on the clutch and driving the Fuel car and then turning around and jumping in the Top Alcohol car to drive.  We didn’t qualify the Fuel car, but we were a respectable 18th and got down the track more than once.”

Team owner/crew chief Jim Dunn has had success at Indy both as a driver and tuner.  At the 1981 U.S. Nationals Dunn drove his Omni all the way to the Funny Car finals before losing to Raymond Beadle, and he matched that effort as a team owner and crew chief in 1994 when he wrenched driver K.C. Spurlock to the final round of Funny Car before losing to Cruz Pedregon. 

In 1999 Dunn tuned his own Pontiac Firebird Funny Car with driver Frank Pedregon past Jim Epler for the U.S. Nationals title.  Dunn even found success in the now-defunct Big Bud Shootout, a special event that used to be 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.    

“Big Jim (Dunn) sure loves Indy,” Lee said.  “He holds nothing back.  The budget gets thrown out the window when it comes to the U.S. Nationals.  He says we’ll be going for it from that first run on Friday night.  We’re not going to hold anything back and I can’t wait.”

Lee’s race weekend actually begins on Thursday when Jim Dunn Racing will unveil a special paint scheme on its CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy Funny Car at the U.S. Nationals Kick-Off Party.  The new colors will showcase one of CANIDAE’s newer products, CANIDAE® Grain Free Salmon Formula, made entirely without grains and featuring high quality, cold water Pacific Salmon meal.  The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Kick-Off Party will start at 4:00 p.m. (ET) at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis prior to the start of the NFL preseason game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals.  The unique fanfest will feature a driver autograph session including Lee, display of race cars, and live music.

NHRA race fans can catch all the action live as it happens from O’Reilly Raceway Park by visiting www.CanidaeRacing.com to follow the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car throughout qualifying and eliminations.  Log in to view reports and photos direct from the Jim Dunn crew and driver Paul Lee . . .  Don’t miss a second of the action!

 

August 16, 2010
Lee Upsets Force Hood En Route to Quaterfinals at Brainerd

CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX ChevyFunny Car driver Paul Lee drove the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy past No. 1 qualifier Ashley Force Hood in his first-round matchup at this past weekend’s 29th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, advancing to the quarterfinals of the final race of NHRA’s regular season.  The series’ next stop at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis will kick off the six-race Countdown to 1 playoffs. 

After qualifying an inauspicious 16th, Lee rebounded with his best run of the weekend in Sunday’s first round of eliminations with an elapsed time of 4.259 seconds at 281.19 mph.  Force Hood entered eliminations as the No. 1 qualifier but her race was over almost from the start when she lost a couple of cylinders as she launched and slowed to a 5.842 elapsed time at 139.06 mph.    

“How about that?” Lee said.  “You don’t ever wish bad luck on anybody, but it seems like we haven’t been able to catch a break on race day so we’ll take it when it comes.  We haven’t been running all that bad; we just seem to have the misfortune of getting paired in the first round against the guy that makes the quickest run of the first round or even of the weekend.  We’ve been making pretty solid passes that would win several pairings, just not the ones we’re in.  Looks like it went the other way today.

“We hurt some parts on our first qualifying run Saturday, so much so that we weren’t even able to make that last qualifying session.  Big Jim (team owner/crew chief Dunn) and the guys worked real hard getting things fixed for eliminations and did a great job.  My hat’s off to them.” 

In his quarterfinal round matchup, Lee was paired with Ford driver Tim Wilkerson.  Lee left the starting line first and led to about the 660-foot mark before his car wiggled and Wilkerson drove past for the win.  Wilkerson had a winning elapsed time of 4.149 seconds at 296.31 mph to Lee’s 4.563 e.t. at 197.10 mph.

“I’m not really sure what happened against Wilkerson,” Lee said.  “I’m not sure if the car lost traction or if I got out of the groove a little; I just know that it started to move and I had to get off of the throttle.  But it was a pretty good weekend for the CANIDAE car and Jim Dunn Racing, and I’m looking forward to Indy in a couple of weeks.”  

The next stop on the 23-race 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule will be the first race of the six-race Countdown to 1 playoffs, the 56th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend, Sept. 1-6.

 

August 12, 2010
Lee Focuses in on Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals

A well-deserved rest comes to an end for the NHRA Full Throttle Series with this weekend’s 29th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. Competitors have had three weeks off after a busy stretch of seven races in eight weeks including the three-race Western Swing, but Funny Car driver Paul Lee is ready to get back behind the wheel of his CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy.

“It was good to have some time off but I’m ready to get back to racing,” Lee said. “It was nice to catch up on some things at home, especially at work, but now it’s time to get back on track and I’m ready.

“I haven’t raced there in a couple of years, but I just love Brainerd. If you can’t have fun at Brainerd, then you don’t know how to have fun. I’m looking forward to going back there. Plus one of our sponsors, Lucas Oil, is the title sponsor of the race. We’re always out there trying hard every race, but we especially want to put on a good show for them. Forrest (Lucas) has been a great supporter of Jim Dunn Racing. Every time he’s at a race he’s right there on the line every time we run giving me the thumbs up. It would be nice to run well there.”

Despite first-round losses through the Western Swing, Lee remains upbeat about the prospects of the CANIDAE car going forward.

“It might not look like it on paper, but the CANIDAE car has really been running pretty well,” Lee said. “We just need to qualify a little better so maybe we don’t have to hit a home run to get past our first-round opponent. We’ve had some good times in eliminations that would have won quite a few other pairings, but when you’re going up against a Force or a Capps as the No. 2 or 3 qualifier, it can make it pretty tough.

“We didn’t really hurt the car too bad during this last stretch or go through too many parts, and the car ran pretty good, so I’m looking forward to these next couple of races. All the crews have had it tough over the last few months, but I can’t say enough about the work put in by Big Jim (team owner/crew chief Dunn) and the guys on this CANIDAE team. They did a great job turning the car around week after week and I don’t think they turned a single wrench wrong. I’m grateful to have all of them behind me.”

NHRA race fans can catch all the action live as it happens from Brainerd International Raceway by visiting www.CanidaeRacing.com to follow the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car throughout qualifying and eliminations. Log in to view reports and photos direct from the Jim Dunn crew and driver Paul Lee . . . Don’t miss a second of the action!

Two hours of qualifying coverage for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Saturday, Aug. 14, beginning at 11:00 p.m. (ET). Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, Aug. 15, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 10:00 a.m. (ET), and concludes with three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 10:00 p.m. (ET).

 

July 26, 2010
Lee Ousted by Force in First Round at Mile-High Nationals

Funny Car driver Paul Lee made a creditable run and challenged 14-time Funny Car champ John Force before losing in their first-ever meeting in the first round at Bristol last month.  Unfortunately for Lee and the Jim Dunn Racing team it was a repeat performance at this past weekend’s 31st annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, a strong, solid first-round pass but not enough to get past the current points leader. 

After qualifying 15th, Lee drove the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy to an elapsed time of 4.293 seconds at 290.13 mph to Force’s winning 4.221 e.t. at 296.24 mph.  Force advanced to the finals before losing to teammate Robert Hight.    

“Denver is the one race a year where we race in these conditions at this altitude, so it can even up the field, especially during Sunday eliminations,” Lee said.  “This is a track that can really be tough on the crew chiefs, but that’s where Big Jim’s (team owner/crew chief) experience really pays off. 

“Just like at Bristol, we went up there intent on beating whoever is in the other lane regardless of who it is.  We made him earn the round win, but in the end it’s still a round loss.”

The Mile-High NHRA Nationals concludes the Western Swing and ends a stretch of seven races in eight weeks.  The teams will get a well-deserved three weeks off before heading to Brainerd (Minn.).

“This has been a pretty crazy couple of months, but like I said before, I get the fun part and that’s getting behind the wheel of this CANIDAE car.  Hopefully the guys will now get to recharge the batteries a little before we head to Brainerd.” 

The next stop on the 23-race 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule will be the 29th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Brainerd, Minn., on Aug. 12-15.

 

July 23, 2010
Denver Hosts Mile-High Wrap-Up to Western Swing

A busy stretch of seven races in the past eight weeks in the NHRA Full Throttle Series comes to a conclusion with this weekend’s 31st annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, the third of three races of the famed Western Swing.  Beginning with the Route 66 Nationals in Chicago the first weekend of June, the senior drag racing circuit traveled to Englishtown (N.J.), Bristol (Tenn.), Norwalk (Ohio), took the 4th of July weekend off, and now knocks off the three-race Western Swing in Seattle, last weekend in Sonoma (Calif.), and this weekend in Denver.  

Increasing the pace for Paul Lee, driver of the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy, is the fact that he also pulls double-duty during the week as owner and CEO of McLeod Clutches, a California-based high-performance clutch shop.  But the race track is still the New Jersey native’s sanctuary, just as it has been for more than 25 years.    

“This has been a long string of races together, hasn’t it?” Lee stated.  “I’ve actually enjoyed these three races on the Western Swing since my home and work are in California.  Man, trying to get back to the office from the East Coast four race weekends in a row was tough.  It was good for the frequent-flyer account but my poor body didn’t know what time zone it was in.  But then I get to do the fun part and get behind the wheel of this CANIDAE Funny Car so that makes it all worth it.”  

Lee’s team owner and crew chief, “Big Jim” Dunn, has made continual improvements to the CANIDAE car during this arduous stretch of races despite some tough first-round losses.  Lee advanced to the quarterfinals at Norwalk, and last week at Sonoma he was the second-quickest Funny Car qualifier in Saturday’s morning session.

“That was pretty cool getting bonus points at Sonoma for being in the top 3 in a qualifying session,” Lee said.  “That shows what the car is capable of and we continue to get better.  Now we need to be consistent and learn to repeat that performance on Sunday and get some round wins.  Denver sounds like a good place to do that.”

NHRA race fans can catch all the action live as it happens from Bandimere Speedway by visiting www.CanidaeRacing.com to follow the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car throughout qualifying and eliminations.  Log in to view reports and photos direct from the Jim Dunn crew and driver Paul Lee . . .  Don’t miss a second of the action!

A ninety-minute telecast of qualifying coverage for the Mile-High NHRA Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Saturday, July 24, beginning at 6:30 p.m. (ET).  Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, July 25, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 10:00 a.m. (ET), and concludes with three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. (ET).

 

July 19, 2010
Funny Car driver Paul LeePart Failure Shortens Lee’s Day at Sonoma

Funny Car driver Paul Lee knew he had a tough first-round opponent in Bob Tasca III at this past weekend’s 23rd annual FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway, but a less-than-$10 part proved to be the undoing of his CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy.  Lee broke a spring in the clutch system during his burnout and was only able to take the green light before the car shut down.  Tasca ran a virtually unopposed 4.198-second elapsed time at 301.13 mph as Lee took the green but was given no time. 

“It looks like one of the springs on the pressure plate broke,” Lee said.  “There’s not a whole lot you can do about that.  You go through all of your preparations for a run and try to cross your Ts and dot your Is, but you can’t plan for a part failing.  You just make sure you find it and fix it.  That’s what we’ll do and then pack up for Denver.”

Lee qualified the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy 12th for Sunday eliminations with an elapsed time of 4.207 seconds at 297.09 mph, posting the second-quickest pass of Saturday’s first afternoon session.

“We made a real good pass in qualifying on Saturday about the same time of day that we would run in Sunday eliminations,” Lee said.  “That gave us a lot of confidence going into Sunday, but like I said, you can’t plan for a broken part.  That’s just part of racing.”   

The next stop on the 23-race 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule will be the 31st annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals on July 23 -25 at Bandimere Speedway in Denver, the third and final leg of the three-race Western Swing.

 

July 14, 2010
Lee Looking Forward to Western Swing Stop at Sonoma

Infineon Raceway will play host to this weekend’s 23rd annual FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals, the second leg of the well known three-race Western Swing.  Starting off last weekend at Pacific Raceways in Seattle, the NHRA Full Throttle Series will next week head to Bandimere Raceway in the mountains of Denver.  But this week the straight-line series unpacks its bags in wine country, and Funny Car driver Paul Lee is anxious to get the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy back on track. 

“Sonoma is one of my favorite races,” Lee said.  “Infineon is a real nice facility, San Francisco is a cool city and I just love that part of the country.  Plus, living in California, it’s one of the shortest trips we have to make and after four races in a row on the East Coast, that’s awful nice.” 

A New Jersey native now living in Southern California, the 52-year-old Lee hopes to build on the continuing improvement the CANIDAE car has made over the last few races.  The Jim Dunn Racing entry has been in the top 12 on Friday night for three consecutive races, including a season-best 4.124-second elapsed time in qualifying at Norwalk three weeks ago.  The team lost a tough first-round matchup with Ron Capps last week at Seattle when he posted the quickest elapsed time of the weekend against Lee.

“It’s that time of year and it looks like it’s going to be hot again this weekend,” Lee said.  “That can definitely tighten the field and even things up a little.  We’re starting to get some consistency in the car, and “Big Jim” (team owner/crew chief Dunn) has been around a long time and just about seen any track condition we’re going to encounter.  If he keeps getting this CANIDAE car from A to B, we should be okay.”

NHRA race fans can catch all the action live as it happens from Infineon Raceway by visiting www.CanidaeRacing.com to follow the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car throughout qualifying and eliminations.  Log in to view reports and photos direct from the Jim Dunn crew and driver Paul Lee . . .  Don’t miss a second of the action!

A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Saturday, July 17, beginning at 11:00 p.m. (ET).  Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, July 18, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 1:00 p.m. (ET), and concludes with three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 6:00 p.m. (ET).

 

July 12, 2010:
Lee’s Best not Enough in First-Round Loss to Capps

crew chief “Big Jim” DunnFunny Car driver Paul Lee turned in his best elapsed time of the weekend in today’s first round of eliminations at the 23rd annual NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways, a time that was quick enough to have won six of the eight first-round Funny Car pairings; unfortunately he wasn’t in one of the six.  Lee was first off the line in his first-round matchup with Ron Capps and drove the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy to an elapsed time of 4.236 seconds at 299.40 mph, but Capps turned in the quickest run of eliminations and ran him down with a winning elapsed time of 4.098 seconds at 303.57 mph. 

“We pretty much ran into a buzz saw there in the first round,” Lee said.  “That’s too bad because we really laid down a nice run but nobody was going to beat Capps in the first round.  The weather obviously was cooler today and Big Jim (team owner/crew chief Dunn) did a great job making the appropriate adjustments.  Unfortunately we ran up against the best pass of the weekend and there’s not a whole lot you can do about that.”

On Friday night the 52-year-old Lee drove the Jim Dunn Racing entry to ninth on the provisional qualifying ladder with an elapsed time of 4.321 seconds at 277.66 mph but was unable to improve his time on Saturday and dropped three positions to qualify 12th for eliminations.

“Like I said, we keep getting better,” Lee said.  “This weekend was another positive step in that direction.  I think that’s the third or fourth race here lately that we’ve qualified in the Top 12 on Friday night.  Now we’re not just worried about making the field, but we’re working on making this CANIDAE car go faster.  It’s taken some time, but we’re getting there.”   

The next stop on the 23-race 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule will be the 23rd annual FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals on July 16-18 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., the second leg of the three-race Western Swing.

 

July 8, 2010:
Dunn Racing Looking for Lightning to Strike Twice at Seattle

NHRA Jim Dunn Funny CarThis weekend’s 23rd annual NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways on the outskirts of Seattle stirs up fond memories for the Jim Dunn Racing team and team owner/crew chief “Big Jim” Dunn as the NHRA Full Throttle Series prepares for its three-race Western Swing.  It was at this race in 2008 that the Dunn-tuned CANIDAE Pet Foods Funny Car gave its sponsor its first win in the series and presented driver Tony Bartone with his first Professional victory in the Funny Car class. 

“That was cool to get Tony his first win,” said Dunn.  “It wasn’t as good as me getting one, but I was glad to get one for him (laughs).  Tony had worked hard for it.” 

Fast-forward to 2010 and the California-based Funny Car team with first-year driver Paul Lee is coming off a quarterfinals appearance two weeks ago at Norwalk (Ohio) and would welcome a return trip to the Pacific Raceways winner’s circle.

“We’re getting better, it’s just been a slow process,” Lee said.  “Big Jim’s been doing this a long time and knows that little moves are what work on getting the car better.  If you try to make big moves all at once, you just get lost and don’t know which way to go.  We’re making progress and it’s slowly starting to show on the track.  It’s been a challenge to get this clutch and fuel system working together, but we’ve been qualifying better and more importantly, we’re starting to get the car down the track.  I’m looking forward to the Western Swing.

“The 4.12 we ran in qualifying at Norwalk was the quickest run I’ve had this season, and I think it was the second-quickest run that Big Jim has had at 1,000 feet.  In fact, the team’s quickest run was a 4.09 with Tony Bartone the weekend they won here at Seattle, so that should give us a positive feeling going into this race.  Big Jim just seems to have a good tune-up for this track.”

NHRA race fans can catch all the action live as it happens from Pacific Raceways by visiting www.CanidaeRacing.com to follow the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car throughout qualifying and eliminations.  Log in to view reports and photos direct from the Jim Dunn crew and driver Paul Lee . . .  Don’t miss a second of the action!

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

 

June 24, 2010:
Norwalk Closes Out Busy Four-Race Stretch for Lee and NHRA Teams

The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will complete its fourth race in as many weekends when teams line up for the first round of qualifying on Friday at the Fourth annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.  Funny Car veteran Paul Lee and team owner/crew chief Big Jim Dunn will continue the challenging task of getting the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy down the quarter-mile as the track temperatures continue to increase and provide them with a slippery pallet on which to work.

“The positives that we take away from Bristol last weekend are that we qualified in the top 12 on Friday, and that certainly lets you breathe a little easier on Saturday,” Lee said.  “And we got down the track in the first round on Sunday even though we lost, so we have good numbers from our most recent run and hopefully can just pick up from there at Norwalk.  It looks like Norwalk’s going to have similar track temperatures and conditions, so hopefully we learned something.” 

The Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals is the fourth race in the month of June, part of a seven-race stretch in eight weeks through June and July.

“The driver’s got it easy,” Lee said.  “If it were up to me we would race every weekend, but my hat’s off to this Jim Dunn Racing team.  Just like all the other teams, they’re in the trenches working hard on the car, then pack up and move on to the next race for the whole month of June.  I sure appreciate their hard work.”

NHRA race fans can catch all the action live as it happens from Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park by visiting www.CanidaeRacing.com to follow the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car throughout qualifying and eliminations.  Log in to view reports and photos direct from the Jim Dunn crew and driver Paul Lee . . .  Don’t miss a second of the action!
 
A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Saturday, June 26, beginning at 7:00 p.m. (ET).  Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, June 27, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 4:30 p.m. (ET), and concludes with three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. (ET).

 


June 16, 2010:
Another Week, Another Race for Lee and NHRA Full Throttle Series

In the midst of its longest continuous stretch of racing this season, the NHRA Full Throttle Series sets its sights on the hills of Tennessee for this weekend’s 10th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, the third of four consecutive race weekends for the straight-line series.  Funny Car driver Paul Lee doesn’t seem to mind getting behind the wheel of the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX for a race every weekend in June, especially when one of them was the just-completed NHRA SuperNationals at his home track in Englishtown, N.J.  Now the New Jersey-born Lee and his Jim Dunn Racing teammates are geared up for the Bruton Smith-owned quarter-mile in “Thunder Valley.”   

“It’s kind of hard on the crews, but I don’t mind having these races back to back to back,” Lee said.  “In fact, it kind of keeps you sharp in the car.  If we’re off a couple of three weeks I wouldn’t say you get rusty, but it can take a pass or two to shake the cobwebs off.  It’s nice to know you’re going to be back in the car in five days after a race when we have these stretches.”

The NHRA Full Throttle Series kicked off the month of June at Route 66 Raceway in Chicago, just completed the aforementioned race weekend at Englishtown, and after this weekend’s Bristol event closes out the month at Norwalk (Ohio).

”This month is made easier because we’re racing at three, even four, of my favorite racetracks on the schedule,” Lee said.  “We just finished Englishtown, and that’s not only my home track but also my favorite.  Route 66 in Joliet is a great facility and probably my next favorite track.  Bristol is another Bruton Smith track and you know everything’s going to be first class there, and then we end up with Norwalk.  What a nice facility the Bader family has put together.  This is a busy stretch but we go to some great racetracks this month.”

NHRA race fans can catch all the action live as it happens from Bristol Dragway by visiting www.CanidaeRacing.com to follow the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car throughout qualifying and eliminations.  Log in to view reports and photos direct from the Jim Dunn crew and driver Paul Lee . . .  Don’t miss a second of the action!
 
A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Saturday, June 19, beginning at 7:00 p.m. (ET).  Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, June 20, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 3:30 p.m. (ET), and concludes with three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 4:00 p.m. (ET).

 


June 10, 2010:
Lee Anxious to go Home for NHRA SuperNationals 

When legendary drag-racing team owner/crew chief “Big” Jim Dunn tabbed veteran Paul Lee to be the driver of the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car for the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Series, the lifelong pursuit of a dream was realized, and now the 52-year-old Lee gets to continue it near his hometown at this weekend’s 41st annual NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.  A native of Ewan, N.J., the former CFO of Boninfante Clutches now owns McLeod Clutches, a California-based high-performance clutch shop, and resides in Anaheim Hills, Calif. 

“I’m a New Jersey native so not only is Englishtown my home track, it’s my favorite track,” Lee said.  “I pretty much grew up racing there.  I got my first racing license there, I got my Alcohol Funny Car license there, and I have more laps at Englishtown than at any other drag strip.  That is truly my home track and definitely my favorite place in the whole world.  I’m looking forward to getting back there.

”I drove Alcohol Funny Cars for 18 years, and during that whole time I always wanted to move up but just never got the opportunity.  Ever since I was 13 years old I knew what I wanted to do, and I’ve been drag racing ever since I was able to drive a car.  It’s taken me longer than I had planned to get here, but when you have a passion for cars and racing like I do, it makes for a fun journey.”

Former nitro Funny Car team owner and tuner “Nitro” Nick Boninfante Sr., who now owns Boninfante Clutches, has been a consultant to the Jim Dunn Racing team throughout the 2010 Full Throttle Series season and will be trackside at this weekend’s 11th of 23 races on the schedule.

“One of the things I brought to the team this year with Nick Boninfante was our clutch tune-up,” Lee said.  “We’ve been fortunate to have Nick help us out this season – he’s been in the clutch business for 25 years.  I’ve known Nick most of my life and he’s been almost like a second dad to me.  He’s helped us out even though he doesn’t get to go to the races.  But he’ll be at Englishtown and he’ll be able to give us a lot more hands-on help when he’s actually at the track.  He’s really one of the most knowledgeable guys there is when it comes to a Fuel clutch.” 

NHRA race fans can catch all the action live as it happens from Old Bridge Township Raceway Park by visiting www.CanidaeRacing.com to follow the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car throughout qualifying and eliminations.  Log in to view reports and photos direct from the Jim Dunn crew and driver Paul Lee . . .  Don’t miss a second of the action!

A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the NHRA SuperNationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Saturday, June 12, beginning at 11:00 p.m. (ET).  Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, June 13, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 3:30 p.m. (ET), and concludes with three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 4:00 p.m. (ET).

 


 

June 7, 2010:
Lee Ousted in First Round at Route 66 NHRA Nationals

CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy as driver Paul LeeA long race weekend at the 13th annual United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway came to an abrupt end for the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy as driver Paul Lee was a little too quick leaving the starting line and fouled out in his first-round match-up with Jack Beckman.  The weekend saw late spring storms wreak havoc with the event schedule as Friday qualifying was reduced to one session and ran past 10:00 p.m., and Sunday eliminations were interrupted after two rounds and finished up around 9:30 p.m.  Matt Hagan defeated points leader Robert Hight in the Funny Car finals. 

“No driver wants to red-light, but unfortunately it’s part of racing and happens to everyone at one time or another,” Lee said.  “I’ve been real consistent on the Tree all season, probably averaging about a .100 reaction time, so this is definitely an aberration.  I feel bad, but I can’t dwell on it because we’ve got Englishtown next weekend.” 

Lee had two solid qualifying runs of 4.270 seconds at 287.84 mph and 4.414 seconds at 284.27 mph on Saturday to place the CANIDAE car 13th on the Funny Car grid, but Cruz Pedregon had his qualifying run disallowed which moved Lee up a spot to No. 12 to square him up with No. 5-qualifier Beckman in the first round.

The next stop on the 23-race 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule will be the 41st annual United Association NHRA SuperNationals on June 10-13 at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.

“I’m a New Jersey native, so I’m really looking forward to going back to Englishtown,” Lee said.  “Not only is it my home track bit it’s also my favorite track, so I’ve definitely had this race circled on the calendar.”





June 5, 2010:
No. 13 Might be Lucky for Jim Dunn Racing at Route 66 Raceway

After ending both days of Funny Car qualifying for this weekend’s 13th annual United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in the No. 13 position, the Jim Dunn Racing team might be in for a little good fortune entering Sunday’s eliminations.  If not, veteran driver Paul Lee is still confident in the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy and the solid work put in by his Jim Dunn Racing teammates.  They are coming off a quarterfinals showing at the NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka and continue to make strides with every pass down the quarter-mile.

“I felt good coming into Chicago this weekend,” Lee said.  “The CANIDAE car slowly continues to get better – of course, it’s never as fast as you would like – and we are coming off probably our best weekend of the season at Topeka.  Now we’re looking to build some consistency into the car and continue our improvement.”

After thunderstorms limited Friday’s qualifying to just one session which started close to 10:00 p.m., Lee qualified the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX entry 13th after pedaling to an elapsed time of 5.428 seconds at 136.65 mph.  Today Lee made two solid passes down the Route 66 Raceway quarter-mile to place him 13th on the final Funny Car qualifying grid as the CANIDAE car posted runs of 4.270 seconds at 287.84 mph and 4.414 seconds at 284.27 mph.  Lee will square off against the Ford of Bob Tasca III in the first round of eliminations.  Defending Full Throttle Series champion Robert Hight was No. 1 qualifier with a 4.067 e.t. at 313.15 mph.     

“It seems like we’ve already been here a week after yesterday,” quipped Lee.  “My hat’s off to Big Jim and the entire CANIDAE Racing team to put in the effort and get the car to make two solid runs today after such a long day yesterday.  The crew guys are the one’s that have it tough on days like yesterday, but these guys definitely responded.  Hopefully we can carry that over into a few round wins tomorrow.”





June 3, 2010:
Lee Looks for Momentum to Continue at Route 66

The Jim Dunn Racing team is coming off a solid performance two weeks ago at the NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka and driver Paul Lee is looking to continue that momentum when he gets behind the wheel of the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car for this weekend’s 13th annual United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.  Lee advanced to the quarterfinals at Topeka after a first-round win over Tim Wilkerson and made a solid pass in a close loss to Jim Head, so the New Jersey native is anxious to get back on track at Route 66 Raceway.

“We definitely have a little momentum going into Joliet,” Lee said.  “One thing we learned and did well at in Topeka was run well when the track was a little cool, and that’s the way it’s going to be at Joliet.  The track is going to be cool and it’s going to be good, and that’s just like Topeka was.” 

The Route 66 NHRA Nationals is the 10th race on the 23-race NHRA Full Throttle Series schedule and marks the first of four consecutive race weekends in the month of June.

“The air will be better in Chicago, but the track was very good at Topeka and a lot of crew chiefs underestimated the track,” Lee said.  “You could give it a lot in Topeka with the tune-up and I think Chicago’s going to be the same way.  I think if we just start where we left off in Topeka we should be in good shape.”

NHRA race fans can catch all the action live as it happens from Route 66 Raceway by visiting www.CanidaeRacing.com to follow the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car throughout qualifying and eliminations.  Log in to view reports and photos direct from the Jim Dunn crew and driver Paul Lee . . .  Don’t miss a second of the action!
 
A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the Route 66 NHRA Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Saturday, June 5, beginning at 11:00 p.m. (ET).  Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, June 6, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 10:00 a.m. (ET), and concludes with three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 4:00 p.m. (ET).





May 24, 2010:
Career-Best E.T. Advances Lee to Quarterfinals at NHRA Summer Nationals

In his only visit to Heartland Park Topeka in 2004, Funny Car driver Paul Lee took home a ‘Wally,’ albeit in the Top Alcohol Funny Car class, giving him positive expectations for his Jim Dunn-tuned CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car heading into this weekend’s 22nd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Summer Nationals at HPT.  Lee was unable to repeat his ‘Wally’ win in ’04, but he’ll take his advancing to the quarterfinals of today’s Funny Car eliminations by defeating No. 2 qualifier Tim Wilkerson in the first round before bowing out to Jim Head.  Robert Hight defeated Jeff Arend in the finals to take the Summer Nationals crown. 

“We’ve been struggling and haven’t had the best of racing luck,” Lee said, “but Big Jim (team owner/crew chief Dunn) and the guys have been working hard and we’ve slowly been sneaking up on this CANIDAE car.  Right off the truck on Friday we made a good, solid pass and we made full pulls every time down the track this weekend.  Big Jim put a brand new blower on the car before today’s eliminations and said, ‘Let’s go for it.’  He said it was going to run a .14 and he didn’t miss by much.” 

Despite two solid qualifying passes on Friday of 4.208 seconds at 292.33 mph and 4.210 seconds at 298.60 mph, Lee and the Jim Dunn Racing team again saw themselves on the outside of the provisional top 12 looking in by a scant two thousandths of a second.  The CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy settled into the 15th spot on the Funny Car grid after final qualifying which paired him with No. 2 qualifier Tim Wilkerson’s Ford in today’s first round of eliminations.  In the first round, Wilkerson got off the line first but Lee chased him down with a career-best elapsed time of 4.168 seconds at 298.60 seconds to Wilkerson’s 4.269 e.t. at 289.45 mph. 

Lee made another solid pass in the next round with a 4.197-second elapsed time at 299.20 mph, but it wasn’t quite enough to get by Jim Head who had a winning elapsed time of 4.161 seconds at 300.73 mph.      

“We’ve got great sponsors associated with Jim Dunn Racing and I want to thank them for sticking with us, starting, of course, with CANIDAE Pet Foods,” Lee said.  “and also thanks to Lucas Oil, Tigerflow, WileyX, and everybody else who supports us.  Hopefully this weekend will give us some momentum going into the summer.  And on behalf of CANIDAE Racing and the Jim Dunn Racing team I’d like to wish Charlotte and Forrest Lucas a Happy Anniversary.”

The next stop on the 23-race 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule will be the 13th annual United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals on June 3-6 at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.





May 19, 2010:
Lee’s Lone Trip to Heartland Park a Successful One

Funny Car veteran Paul Lee will be making only his second trip to Heartland Park Topeka for this weekend’s 22nd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Summer Nationals, but he wouldn’t mind a repeat of the performance he had the first time in 2004.  Lee was competing in the Top Alcohol Funny Car class and had a near-perfect race weekend by winning the race as the No. 1 qualifier and also posting the top speed for the event.  This year the New Jersey native will be looking for similar success in the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy as he competes against the world’s best in Nitro Funny Car.

“I’ve only raced at Topeka one time, but it was just about a perfect weekend,” Lee said.  “I was running in Top Alcohol Funny Car and we were coming off a win at Atlanta just a few weeks before.  We pretty much made a clean sweep of the race weekend by qualifying No. 1, winning the race and posting top speed of the meet – not a bad weekend.  Needless to say, I like Heartland Park. It’s a great facility.”

Lee and the Jim Dunn Racing team will be looking to rebound from their performance at last weekend’s NHRA Southern Nationals where they narrowly missed the field by two thousandths of a second. 

NHRA Full Throttle Series race“We haven’t had much luck lately, but I’m glad we’re getting right back on the track,” Lee said.  “It was hot in Atlanta and it’s usually hot at Topeka, so we should have good data from the car.  Our clutch tune-up is pretty aggressive and we’ve been trying to move some weight around trying to dial it in.  It’s been a challenge but I think when we hit on it this CANIDAE car is going to put up some good numbers and be a good car.”

NHRA race fans can catch all the action live as it happens from Heartland Park Topeka by visiting www.CanidaeRacing.com to follow the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car throughout qualifying and eliminations.  Log in to view reports and photos direct from the Jim Dunn crew and driver Paul Lee...  Don’t miss a second of the action!
 
A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the NHRA Summer Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Saturday, May 22, beginning at 8:00 p.m. (ET).  Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, May 23, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 11:00 a.m. (ET), and concludes with three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. (ET).





May 17, 2010:
Lee Narrowly Misses Field at NHRA Southern Nationals

CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX ChevyFor the second time in three races, Funny Car driver Paul Lee and the Jim Dunn Racing team have seen how razor thin it can be to making or missing Sunday eliminations at an NHRA Full Throttle Series race.  After missing the field at Las Vegas last month by a scant one thousandth of a second, Lee in the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy was only two thousandths of a second off of cracking the top 12 and a provisional spot in the Funny Car field on Friday at this weekend’s 30th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals.  Lee was unable to make a full pass in the hot conditions of Saturday’s final two qualifying sessions and failed to qualify for eliminations.

“You can say we’ve been unlucky the last few races, but at this level you have to make your own luck,” Lee said.  “We’ve been close, but it’s kind of like when you go red at the starting line.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a thousandth of a second or three seconds, if you don’t make it, you don’t make it.” 

After the first day of qualifying, Lee drove the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy to an elapsed time of 4.292 seconds at 285.71 mph, narrowly missing the provisional top 12 positions on the Funny Car grid by two thousandths of a second.  Jim Head held down the coveted 12th position with an elapsed time of 4.290 seconds at 291.95 mph.    

In the third qualifying session on Saturday Lee started to haze the tires on the CANIDAE car and clicked it off, slowing to a 5.252 e.t. at 147.92 mph, and on his fourth and final qualifying attempt Lee lost traction and got real loose before crossing the finish line with an elapsed time of 4.623 seconds at 213.20 mph.  The run was good enough for the 16th and final qualifying position until Jeff Diehl ran in the next pair and bumped himself into the 16-car field leaving Lee on the outside looking in.

“It’s tough when you are trying to post a time in the heat of the day on Saturday,” Lee said.  “We’re making it tough on ourselves.  We’ve made some good runs, just not enough of them and not at the right times.  It’s part of the learning curve, but we’ve got to make good enough runs to get in the field so we can race on Sunday.”

The next stop on the 23-race 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule will be the 22nd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Summer Nationals on May 21-23 at Heartland Park Topeka in Topeka, Kan.





May 13, 2010:
Lee Has Fond Memories of Atlanta Dragway

Paul LeeWhen Funny Car veteran Paul Lee drives through the gates at Atlanta Dragway for this weekend’s 30th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, he can be excused if he stops for just a moment and reminisces about this race in 2004.  That season the New Jersey native was driving the Allied Machine & Equipment Pontiac Top Alcohol Funny Car against class stalwarts like Frank Manzo, Bob Newberry and Jay Payne, and for that weekend he was the best of the bunch as he took home his first career ‘Wally’ by defeating Newberry in the finals.  He now pilots the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy in NHRA’s premier Nitro Funny Car class and will be looking to carry some of that positive performance with him for this weekend’s contest.

“Yea, I’ve got good thoughts when I think about Atlanta Dragway,” Lee said.  “I got my first ‘Wally’ there so it’s a pretty special place to me.  And now we’ve got a little bit of momentum coming off of our weekend at St. Louis so hopefully we can carry that over to this weekend.”

As the saying goes, in 2004 Lee won his first ‘Wally’ the old-fashioned way – he earned it – from the pilot’s seat with a first-round win over Mick Snyder and then consecutive holeshot wins over Paul Gill, Bob Newberry, and Jay Payne in the money round.  Fast forward to 2010 and Lee is coming of his best qualifying effort of the season for the Jim Dunn Racing team after qualifying the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy sixth two weeks ago at the NHRA Midwest Nationals at St. Louis.

“It would be a bit strong to say we’ve turned the corner, but St. Louis definitely was a shot in the arm and has us going in the right direction,” Lee said.  “We benefited from the track being hot.  I think a lot of the teams overpowered the track and were losing traction, but we were able to make a couple of passes right down the track.  Looks like it’s going to be hot again this weekend so hopefully that will work in our favor again.”

NHRA race fans can catch all the action live as it happens from Atlanta Dragway by visiting www.CanidaeRacing.com to follow the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car throughout qualifying and eliminations.  Log in to view reports and photos direct from the Jim Dunn crew and driver Paul Lee . . .  Don’t miss a second of the action!
 
A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the NHRA Southern Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Saturday, May 15, beginning at 8:00 p.m. (ET).  Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, May 16, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 10:00 a.m. (ET), and concludes with three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. (ET).





May 4, 2010:
Lee Falls in First Round at St. Louis

After turning in its best qualifying effort of the season for this past weekend’s 14th annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway, the Jim Dunn Racing team was cautiously optimistic heading into Sunday eliminations and first-round opponent Tim Wilkerson.  Unfortunately, Wilkerson, a Springfield, Ill., native, had some hometown backing as he got past Lee in their first-round matchup.

Lee’s first run down the Gateway quarter-mile in the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy during Friday qualifying was a solid 4.343 seconds at 274.72 mph placing him fourth on the provisional Funny Car grid after rain erased the second qualifying session.  Lee backed that up on Saturday with an elapsed time of 4.250 seconds at 292.39 mph to finish sixth in final qualifying for his highest qualifying spot of the season.    

In the first round of eliminations Wilkerson turned in a winning elapsed time of 4.236 seconds at 295.59 mph as Lee started to haze the tires on the CANIDAE car just past halftrack and turned in an elapsed time of 4.757 seconds at 180.21 mph.  Robert Hight defeated Jack Beckman in the finals. 

“Even though we didn’t do as well as we would’ve liked on Sunday, this was a pretty good weekend for the Jim Dunn Racing team,” Lee said.  “We had our best qualifying effort of the season, and now we just need to build some consistency into this CANIDAE car.  We got down the track without a hitch in qualifying and I thought we were going to be able to go some rounds on Sunday, but that didn’t happen.

“But I’m excited about the progress we’re making.  I wish we were racing again this weekend so we could get back at it, but we’ll be ready in two weeks at Atlanta.” 

The next stop on the 23-race 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule will be the 30th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals on May 14–May 16 at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga.





April 29, 2010:
Lee Ready to Bounce Back at NHRA Midwest Nationals  

A mere thousandth of a second kept CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car driver Paul Lee and his Jim Dunn Racing entry from qualifying for the NHRA Full Throttle Series’ most recent race at Las Vegas, so after a weekend off the team is anxious to bounce back at this weekend’s 14th annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway just east of St. Louis.    

“I think that’s the second time this season we’ve been that close,” Lee said.  “Sometimes the qualifying format taking the top 12 on Friday works against you and sometimes it works for you.  Unfortunately, this year it has worked against us, but next time it might work in our favor, so we just have to go out there and qualify.

“We’ve bounced back and forth between clutch setups here early in the season and struggled some.  I brought a clutch tune-up with me to the team that Nick Boninfante and I have used and developed over the years, and it has shown a lot of promise in our 60-foot times, but we have had trouble keeping the tires under the car past the one-second mark.  So we’ve also had to run the team’s clutch setup from last year just to make sure we can get down the track and make a solid qualifying pass.  There’s a learning curve with the new tune-up and we just have to fight our way through it.  I think we’ll have a fast race car once we get the clutch matched up with Big Jim’s horsepower.”

Lee put the short time away from the track to good use with an appearance made on behalf of major associate sponsor Lucas Oil this past week at Disneyland.

“Grainger had a convention at the hotel there at Disneyland, so we were set up in the Lucas Oil booth.  We had the CANIDAE car there and I signed some autographs for a couple of hours, and we had a good time.  We’ve got great sponsors that support what we do so it’s a pleasure to represent them at functions away from the track as well.” 

Speaking of sponsors, this weekend for the NHRA Midwest Nationals Gateway Classic Cars will again be on the CANIDAE car, supporting the efforts of the Jim Dunn Racing team at this event as they have since 2001.  Gateway Classic Cars, located 6 miles east of downtown St. Louis in Fairmont City, Ill., is the largest classic car dealer in the Midwest, selling classic cars on consignment for private owners, collectors and estates. 

NHRA race fans can catch all the action live as it happens from Gateway International Raceway by visiting www.CanidaeRacing.com to follow the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car throughout qualifying and eliminations.  Log in to view reports and photos direct from the Jim Dunn crew and driver Paul Lee . . .  Don’t miss a second of the action!

A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the NHRA Midwest Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Saturday, May 1, beginning at 9:00 p.m. (ET).  Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, May 2, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 10:00 a.m. (ET), and concludes with three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. (ET).





April 21, 2010:
A Thousandth of a Second Keeps CANIDAE Car off The Strip   

Football has been called a game of inches, so it’s no small stretch that NHRA drag racing can easily stake claim to being a game of thousandths of a second.  With a win or loss in eliminations or qualifying for a 16-car field decided by thousandths or even ten-thousandths of a second, packing up to go home versus staying to race can be decided by hair-thin margins.  Just ask Funny Car driver Paul Lee and the Jim Dunn Racing team after this past weekend’s 11th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas.

After the first day of qualifying, Lee drove the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy to an elapsed time of 4.302 seconds at 293.22 mph, narrowly missing the provisional top 12 positions on the Funny Car grid by said thousandth of a second.  Specifically, Tony Pedregon held down the 12th and final provisional position on the Funny Car grid with an elapsed time of 4.301 seconds at 270.86 mph.  With the four quickest cars on the final day of qualifying completing the 16-car Funny Car field, near 90-degree temperatures and track temperatures surpassing 120 degrees provided the ultimate challenge for crew chiefs. 

In the third qualifying session the CANIDAE car got out of the groove and Lee was forced to lift off the throttle and slowed to a 5.064 e.t. at 160.48 mph, and on his fourth and final qualifying attempt Lee lost traction at 300 feet on the tricky track and slowed to a 6.679 e.t. at 100.45 mph and failed to make the field for Sunday’s eliminations.  Ironically, Pedregon advanced all the way to the finals before losing to John Force. 

“What were we off, a thousandth of a second from the top 12 on Friday?” Lee asked.  “And then Tony goes all the way to the finals – good for him and his team.  That shows you how close the class is and how quickly your fortunes can change, both from good to bad, and from bad to good. 

“Seems like everybody was losing traction on Saturday, and unfortunately so were we.  If we could have just gotten in on Friday, but you can’t count on ‘would haves’ and ‘could haves.’  Bottom line is we were close but didn’t get it done, so we move on to St. Louis and try to move forward there.” 

The next stop on the 23-race 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule will be the 14th annual AAA Insurance NHRA Nationals on April 30–May 2 at Gateway International Speedway, five minutes from downtown St. Louis in Madison, Ill.





April 14, 2010:
Lee Looking for Better Fortune at The Strip

You won’t find Funny Car driver Paul Lee complaining about the early-season back-to-back races with Houston last weekend and this weekend’s 11th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  In fact, the 52-year-old pilot of the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy is anxious to get back on track and continue moving in the right direction.

“I probably sound like a broken record, but we’re really not that far off,” Lee said.  “We had a couple of qualifying runs at Houston that weren’t spectacular, but they were solid and we learned from them.  Every lap we make we learn something, even the bad ones. 

“Our new clutch tune-up has shown some promise so we just need to keep putting laps on this CANIDAE car until we get it right – and we will.  I think the quick turnaround can actually help us by taking what we learned last weekend and getting right back up to the starting line.” 

The SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals is the second race out of the last three to be contested at a Bruton Smith-owned track after the inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte three weeks ago.    

“You know when you walk through the gates of a Bruton Smith facility that everything is going to be first-class,” Lee said, “and The Strip at Las Vegas is no exception.  He really caters to the fans.  Plus it’s in a great city so it’s hard to go wrong at this race.”

NHRA race fans can catch all the action live as it happens from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by visiting www.CanidaeRacing.com to follow the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car throughout qualifying and eliminations.  Log in to view reports and photos direct from the Jim Dunn crew and driver Paul Lee . . .  Don’t miss a second of the action!
 
A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Saturday, April 17, beginning at 6:00 p.m. (ET).  Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, April 18, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 10:00 p.m. (ET), and concludes with three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. (ET).





April 7, 2010:
Lee, CANIDAE Team Look to Continue Moving Forward at NHRA Spring Nationals

Funny Car driver Paul Lee and his Jim Dunn Racing teammates are taking the positives from the inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals two weeks ago at Charlotte and looking to build some early-season momentum at this weekend’s 23rd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park.  Lee drove the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy to its first round win of the season and his .891-second 60-foot time was the quickest of the second qualifying session. 

“You never make gains on the car as fast as you’d like, but I think we’re definitely moving in the right direction,” Lee said.  “We’re moving forward, not taking a few steps back.  We know the race is longer than 60 feet, but it’s encouraging to have consistent numbers off the line as we continue to get better on the rest of the track. 

”It was exciting to get our first round-win of the season at Charlotte.  I’m especially happy for Big Jim (team owner/crew chief Dunn) and the crew.  They’ve been working hard and definitely deserved it.”

The 52-year-old Lee is a four-time national-event winner in the Funny Car category, winning once in 2008 in the IHRA Nitro Funny Car class and three times in 2004 in NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car.  The former CFO of Boninfante Clutches now owns McLeod Clutches, a California-based high-performance clutch shop. 

“Historically Houston has been a fast track, especially at night,” Lee said.  “I love the night sessions, putting on a great show for the fans.  It’ll be good getting back to drag racing.”

NHRA race fans can catch all the action live as it happens from Houston Raceway Park by visiting www.CanidaeRacing.com to follow the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car throughout qualifying and eliminations.  Log in to view reports and photos direct from the Jim Dunn crew and driver Paul Lee . . .  Don’t miss a second of the action!

A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the NHRA Spring Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Saturday, April 10, beginning at 10:30 p.m. (ET).  Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, April 11, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 2:00 p.m. (ET), and concludes with three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 8:00 p.m. (ET).





March 31, 2010:
Paul Lee Advances to Funny Car Quarterfinals of Rain-Delayed NHRA 4-Wide Nationals

Paul LeeAn event as unique as this past weekend’s Inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway outside of Charlotte apparently needed more than one day to complete as rain interrupted eliminations yesterday and forced completion of the historic event to Monday.  For the first time in NHRA history each round of qualifying and eliminations had four competitors in four lanes instead of the traditional two, and in eliminations the first two to finish in each foursome advances to the next round.  Paul Lee in the CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX car turned in his best performance of the young season when he finished second in his first-round foursome to advance to the second round before bowing out. 

In the first round Matt Hagan led Lee’s quartet with an elapsed time of 4.040 at 312.42 mph with the CANIDAE car next across the stripe with a 4.327-second e.t. at 296.50 mph.  No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight was disqualified when his Ford lost traction and crossed the center line, and Jeff Arend also lost traction when he shook the tires and didn’t post a time.

CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX car“It’s no secret we’re still wrestling with the same problem with the car keeping traction past the 60-foot mark, but that’s only going to improve as we get more runs on this CANIDAE car,” said Lee.  “Big Jim and the guys worked hard getting this car ready for eliminations so I’m happy to get a round win for them as much as myself.  They deserve it and hopefully this weekend gets us heading in the right direction.”

In the second round Lee lost traction and shook the tires on the CANIDAE car and slowed to a 7.224 e.t. at 93.48 mph.  Ashley Force Hood and Matt Hagan were the two that advanced from Lee’s second-round foursome with runs of 4.122/288.64 and 4.106/305.98, respectively.  John Force won his second Funny Car race of the season as his daughter and teammate, Ashley Force Hood, was runner-up.

"I brought a new clutch program to the program this year, so there’s been a learning curve along with adjusting to a lighter driver,” Lee said.  “But we seem to be dialing it in.  We had an .891 60-foot time in qualifying that was the top one or two 60-foot times of the session, and we’re consistently running in the low nines (.900), so with a few more runs we should have a pretty nice car."

The next stop on the 23-race 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule will be the 23rd annual NHRA O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Texas, on April 9-11, 2010.





March 24, 2010:
Paul Lee to Take CANIDAE Car “Four Wide” at Charlotte

It can be awfully exciting when NASCAR or IndyCar drivers go three and four wide into a turn on an oval, but they’ve got nothing on the straight-line racers at this weekend’s Inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in the Charlotte suburb of Concord. 

Nearly 32,000 horsepower in the Funny Car and Top Fuel classes will roll up to the starting line for each round of qualifying and eliminations in NHRA’s first race in history to compete in four lanes instead of the traditional two.  That’s right, for the first time drag-race fans will see four cars on the starting grid for each round instead of two, four cars performing burnouts side-by-side-by-side-by-side, and four cars launching together in concert in each qualifying session and elimination round.    

“This will definitely be a race for the fans,” Lee said.  “They’re going to see four cars going down the track in every round of qualifying and eliminations.  It’s the first time for something definitely different, so we’ll see how it goes.  I’ve never been to the zMAX Dragway so I’m looking forward to it.  All of Bruton Smith’s tracks are awesome and this one should be no different.”       

With a new season and a new driver, the Jim Dunn Racing team and first-year driver Lee knew that 2010 would present its share of challenges, and to date that has proven to be true, but the team is confident strides are being made in the right direction.

“Like I said before, we have a couple of major things different with the car this year and we just haven’t had enough time to completely sort them out, but we’re getting closer,” Lee said.  “I weigh a lot less than the previous drivers, so that’s thrown things off and we’ve had to re-arrange the weight of the car.  We also have a new clutch tune-up in the car that we’re working with, so those are major areas of change to the CANIDAE car and we just don’t have enough runs on it yet.  It doesn’t help that we keep losing runs to weather (one qualifying run rained out both at Phoenix and Gainesville), plus we lost two more runs to simple parts failures, so we simply just need more runs.  It’s a tricky balance. 

“But we’re really not that far off.  The car with the new clutch tune-up in it leaves real hard like it’s supposed to.  We just need to get that one-second to one-and-a-half second area fixed which is something that Big Jim (team owner/crew chief) can do with a few more runs.”

A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Saturday, March 27, beginning at 7:00 p.m. (ET).  Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, March 28, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 10:00 a.m. (ET), and concludes with two-and-a-half hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 5:00 p.m. (ET).




March 11, 2010:
Lee Both a Racer and a Fan when Talking about Gatornationals

Autograph CardIt is easy to forget that most drivers in all disciplines of racing not only enjoy competing on the track, but are also big fans and historians of their sport.  Such is the case with Paul Lee, driver of the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car, when it comes to this weekend’s 41st annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.

A native of New Jersey, the Gatornationals always represented the first chance for Lee and most other East Coast racers to dust off the cobwebs and hit the track for the first time of the race season.

“The Gatornationals are awesome,” Lee said.  “I mean, it’s truly one of the major events on the circuit along with Indy, Pomona, and of course for a New Jersey guy, Englishtown.  Gainesville was always the first race of the season for us, and it usually wasn’t too hard to get us excited about leaving the snow and the cold to go down to Florida. 

“I bet in the last 20 years or so I’ve only missed maybe one or two Gatornationals.  Now, I wasn’t racing every time, but if I wasn’t in a car you could still find me in the grandstands.  This was just always a race you circled on the calendar, and if I wasn’t fortunate enough to be racing in it, I was still a fan and wanted to be watching it.  It’s just a great event and I’m looking forward to the weekend.”

The 52-year-old Lee is a four-time national-event winner in the Funny Car category, winning once in 2008 in the IHRA Nitro Funny Car class and three times in 2004 in NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car.  The former CFO of Boninfante Clutches now owns McLeod Clutches, a California-based high-performance clutch shop. 

“My parents retired down to Florida about 45 minutes from the track,” Lee said, “so they are going to come over and watch us.  It will be great to spend some time with them and their first chance to see me behind the wheel of the CANIDAE car.  It should be fun.”

A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the NHRA Gatornationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Sunday, March 14, beginning at 12:00 midnight (ET).  Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, March 14, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 11:00 a.m. (ET), and concludes with three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 6:00 p.m. (ET).




February 17, 2010:
Lee Excited to Get Back On Track at Firebird

Autograph CardWith back-to-back races to kick off the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing season, race teams have a chance to redeem themselves if they turned in a less-than-desired performance at the season-opening Winternationals at Pomona last weekend.  Such is the case with Funny Car veteran Paul Lee and the Jim Dunn Racing team as they prepare for this weekend’s 26th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway just south of Phoenix.  Despite missing the 16-car field at Pomona, Lee, a first-year driver of the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy, is confident the team can shake off the cobwebs and turn in a solid performance at Firebird.

“(Pomona) was just one of those weekends; pretty much if something could go wrong it did,” Lee said.  “The first two runs were a little sluggish because of the fuel system, but once Big Jim (team owner/crew chief Dunn) got some of that down, the third run had a .910-second 60-foot time and should do that every time.  If we can get the 60-foot times under control then we’re going to do good, and at Pomona we started to do that.  So that’s a good sign and a positive we can take away from the weekend.”

The 52-year-old Lee is a four-time national-event winner in the Funny Car category, winning once in 2008 in the IHRA Nitro Funny Car class and three times in 2004 in NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car.  The former CFO of Boninfante Clutches now owns McLeod Clutches, a California-based high-performance clutch shop. 

“One of the things I brought to the team this year with Nick Boninfante was our clutch tune-up,” Lee said.  “We said to Jon (Dunn) and Jim (Dunn) that part of the goal this year was to help the team with their short times.  Big Jim has the other half of the track.  He makes plenty of power and his cars always run fast at the top end.  I think this is a good combination with this clutch tune-up and his power, so I’m excited to get back on the track at Phoenix.”

A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the NHRA Arizona Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Sunday, Feb. 21, beginning at 2:00 a.m. (ET).  Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, Feb. 21, when NHRA Race Day kicks off eliminator coverage starting at 11:00 a.m. (ET), and concludes with three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. (ET).



February 15, 2010:
CANIDAE Funny Car Misses Field for Season-Opening NHRA Winternationals

It wasn’t the start to the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Series season that the Jim Dunn Racing team and first-year driver Paul Lee had hoped for, but assorted challenges made for an eventful weekend and prevented the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy from qualifying for the 16-car Funny Car field at this past weekend’s 50th annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

The CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Chevy was declared too light after the first qualifying session on Thursday so no time was recorded, but the Jim Dunn Racing team gained a solid baseline to work off of in Friday’s second round of qualifying with a 4.327-second elapsed time at 278.58 mph.

“Jeff (Diehl) couldn’t get his car in reverse after the burnout on that first run and tried to drive it to the other end as fast as he could to get it off the track so I could make a pass,” Lee said. “But he forgot about the new auto shut-off valve we all have on the cars, which is understandable, and he had his foot on the gas at the point where it shuts it off and pulls the chutes. So he got stuck on the track and I’m sitting there idling for more than three minutes after the burnout. By the time they sent me I had burned so much fuel I was light on the scale.”

Unfortunately the team faced a few more hurdles and it was a struggle to get the CANIDAE car down the track in Saturday’s third and fourth qualifying sessions. In Q3 Lee had a sterling .910-second time to the 60-foot mark before striking the tires and slowing to an 8.165 elapsed time. In the fourth and final qualifying session, Lee was paired with Jeff Diehl again whose team was having trouble latching the back of his Funny Car body. After a long delay, Lee was directed to stage, took the green light but a broken throttle cable slowed the CANIDAE car to a crawl through the beams and it failed to crack the bump spot on the Funny Car field.

“On that third run the CANIDAE car left hard really good and probably posted the team’s quickest 60-foot time in almost two years,” Lee said. “That’s one thing I was able to bring to the table was our clutch program with Nick Boninfante. We just didn’t have the bearings slowed down enough for this clutch system which is going to take a couple of runs to figure out. On that last run I think it would have gone right down the track but the throttle cable broke. But you can’t just sit there and say would have, could have, should have.

“It was just one of those weekends; pretty much if something could go wrong it did. But it’s only up from here, so we got that one out of the way and we’re looking forward to Phoenix.”

John Force defeated Ron Capps in the final round of Funny Car for his first win in more than a year and a half. The NHRA teams get little rest as they load up from Pomona and take a short drive east to Phoenix for this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals.

The second stop on the 23-race 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule is the 26th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., on Feb. 19–21, 2010.