Lindberg Brings NHRA Title Home to Sweden.
Jonnie Lindberg, the 2013 FIA Top Methanol Funny Car champion, became the first European driver in history to win an NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series title when he clinched the Top Alcohol Funny Car championship at the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif. The 26-year-old driver and tuner of the Landmeco Chevrolet Monte Carlo captured the season-long prize with a victory over Mickey Ferro in the semifinal round.
“To win the European championship was big, but this was huge,” said Lindberg. “The Swedish media never covered drag racing when I won the European championship, but now I’ve been in Swedish newspapers and television and stuff. It’s hard for me to understand how huge it is because I’m in it. It’s a great feeling. Now I want to do it again. I want to go faster and win more races. I’m looking forward to next year.”
Lindberg scored his first career NHRA win at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona at the start of the season and broke the class’ 5.3-second and 270-mph barriers when he won the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte in March. Lindberg still holds the national e.t. record at 5.361 seconds and raced the driver who took away his speed record, John Lombardo Jr., in the Pomona final this past weekend.
Lindberg ran quicker and was in the lead at the 1,000-foot increment, but Lombardo went past him to win on a 5.445 to 5.439 holeshot by a margin of only .002-second. It was the quickest side-by-side race in Top Alcohol Funny Car history.
“It didn’t matter so much at the time that I lost, but now it would have been nice to end the season with a win,” said Lindberg. “I’m happy with the car. The old Monte Carlo body is going good with e.t. – now we just need to get some more speed in it. It always feels bad when you lose on a holeshot, and it’s frustrating when you have a good light like a .036 and still lose that way. We’ll put a new Camaro body on it next year, and I still have a few aces up my sleeve to try to get the speed record back.”
Last season, Top Alcohol Funny Car racer Steve Harker, who was born in Australia, became the first non-native North American to win a title in any Mello Yello or Lucas Oil category. One year later, Lindberg is the first driver from Europe to do the same and the first to score titles in both NHRA and FIA. The weight of the achievement is still sinking into Lindberg.
“It feels pretty good,” said Lindberg. “You are still smiling when you wake up in the morning. Now it’s a real world championship. It’s not only Americans and Canadians. It’s fun. Hopefully, we get even more drivers from outside the U.S. to come race with the best of the best. It makes it more exciting.”
Lindberg’s season had its ups and downs. Though the 10 events on his scorecard did not include as many event wins as he had hoped, his performance carried him to enough late-round finishes to amass the highest points total in the category in a season where there were 12 different winners at 16 national events.
“The car was good, but we had some parts failures, and I made some bad tuning decisions that made us spin the tires or shake,” said Lindberg. “We’re learning more and more. We’re getting better at every race. I think that showed in Pomona when I tried to stay focused and do my very best. All of the runs were in the mid-.40s except for when I shook against Sean Bellemeur. I went for consistency, and it paid off.
“Big thanks to Karsten Andersen that owns Landmeco. He’s a big part of the team right now. He told me he wanted 10 championships before he retired, and he won nine championships as one of the most successful Top Fuel team owners in Europe. Now he won 10 times. He sent a text to me that says now he’s looking forward to 11 times. Thomas Nataas from Norway drove those cars, and he helps sponsor me, too. It’s really cool that racers from Europe believed in me to win the championship, and I hope they are happy with how our season turned out.”
Lindberg is excited to carry the No. 1 and to once again fly the blue-and-yellow Swedish flag across the United States for his title defense in the 2016 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series beginning in February.
Lindberg Bros. Motorsports extends its gratitude to supporters Landmeco, Oslo Tapet & Gulvbelegg AS, Manton Pushrods and Rockerarms, Manley Performance valves, Noonan Race Engineering cylinder heads, Leanders Clutches, Composite Specialties injector hats, Bullet Cams, Jan-Cen, Red Line Oil, XRP, Kjelland Transport, CPI, Total Projekt, Geoveta, Scania, BST, Fastec, VSM, Scandrock, and Birka Motorrenoveringar.
Television coverage of the 51st Annual Auto Club NHRA Finals will be Broadcast on Nov. 22 at 11:30 PM-12:30 AM ET on ESPN2.
2015 NHRA Lucas Oil Championship
2. John Lombardo Jr. 646
3. Annie Whiteley 636
4. Doug Gordon 585
5. Steve Harker 543
6. Mickey Ferro 540
7. Todd Veney 539
8. Shane Westerfield 519
9. Kris Hool 509
10. Jay Payne 498