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DRO: Did any of the other guys in the Top Fuel class come over with congratulations?

JO: Oh yeah, everybody was there, everybody had been wanting to take him out. It was kind of a big deal, I guess, but it gets back to the same thing. He (Millican) was out there smokin' the tires and kept pumpin' the pedal, and I just squeezed the thing off and got it down the racetrack.

I don't know that if I was still young and aggressive that I wouldn't be out there beatin' on the pedal, but I've done this who knows how many thousands of times and I know you're never gonna' get hold of the racetrack like that. It was maybe just experience that beat him, but by the same token, I can't cut any .450 lights.

DRO: So, when you lined up, you had already decided you were just going to run your own race and see what happened?

JO: Oh, hell yeah. I knew there weren't any 4.60s in that racetrack and I told my guys, 'If they try to run 4.60, we're gonna' whip their ass. If they try to run a 5.10, then we're gonna' have a drag race on our hands.'

But my thing smoked the tires, too, right off the step. It went up instantly, but I just squeezed the pedal off and back on again. I saw him out there with the tires smokin' and fire going everywhere and I had an idea he'd keep doing that, so I went right on by him.

DRO: What happened for round two?

JO: That's kind of funny, because when I got back to the pits I said, 'Let's fix Louie's car because we only have enough people to get one car ready,' but then Litton's crew and Bobby Lagana's and even Bruce himself was down there helping. They were all saying, 'No way, let's run both of them!'

So my regular people fixed Louie's car and everyone else worked on mine. And as it turned out, had we not done that, because Doc Sipple broke before our race, there would have been nobody in my side of the semis and Louie's race against [Paul] Romine would've been the final. It was real lucky.

That's why when I went up there I just idled down the racetrack because I thought that if Louie won we'd only have to fix his car and I could run mine just the way it was, and then we could go and really race each other for a change. We've never been able to do that because I always go up there and just want him to win.

DRO: But you ended up against Romine in the final, where he also went up in smoke, but you had your best pass of the weekend (5.19 at 275.90), right?

JO: Yeah. I had taken a bunch of weight off the clutch and I slowed the cannon down so that when I got out there about 300 feet it just parked the cannon so it wouldn't do anything else with the clutch. My car only went 5.19, but it went right on down the racetrack. It was spinning the tires at the top end, just like everybody's was, even with four or five more degrees in the wing, but I knew what it could do.

DRO: Did you know that you're now the oldest driver ever to win a Top Fuel event?

JO: Oh, God, I hope not.

DRO: But do you take any pride in that?

JO: I'm very happy to win, obviously, but more than that, my operation can use the money.

DRO: That brings up a good point. Is it really more profitable for you to run with IHRA, rather than NHRA?

JO: I ran over there (NHRA) back in the '80s, and I think in '88 I was 9th or 10th in the points, but it's just too expensive now. The last race I entered there was three years ago in Chicago. I used to go to every NHRA and IHRA race, forever it seems, but it just got to be too much travel.

About four or five years ago I just decided I couldn't run 30 weekends a year and still work at my job (operating a bowling alley). It's especially a big deal to get to the West Coast.


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