NHRA: Swedish driver, 2-time champ Jonnie Lindberg jumps to Funny Car for 2017

Photo courtesy LindbergBros.com
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Competition in the NHRA Funny Car class is hard enough with the likes of defending champion Ron Capps, 16-time champ John Force, Matt Hagan, “Fast Jack” Beckman, Del Worsham, Tommy Johnson Jr., Courtney Force, Alexis De Joria, Cruz Pedregon, Tim Wilkerson and more.

But the competition just got even tougher with the announcement that two-time defending Top Alcohol Funny Car champ Jonnie Lindberg will move up to the nitro fuel Funny Car class in the 2017 season with Head Racing.

According to NHRA.com and National Dragster, Lindberg – a native of Sweden – will take over for Chad Head, who stepped out of the driver’s seat of his family’s long-time Funny Car operation after last season to devote more time to the overall family business.

“This is a dream come true for me,” Lindberg told Kevin McKenna of NHRA.com/National Dragster. “I’ve always wanted to drive a fuel Funny Car. Last year, my goal was to win a second [Top Alcohol Funny Car] championship and then get my fuel license.

“… I thought it was a good idea to have the license just in case someone was looking for a driver. I didn’t expect that anything would happen this quickly, but I’m happy that it did.”

Lindberg has been a dominating force in Top Alcohol Funny Car – which is similar to the Xfinity Series in NASCAR, namely, one step below the NHRA’s big leagues. Not only did he win back-to-back TA/FC championships in 2015 and 2016, he also has six national event wins.

And, according to McKenna, Lindberg is the first driver in Top Alcohol Funny Car to break the 5.3-second barrier and to surpass 270 mph.

But by moving up to nitro Funny Car, Lindberg will also be making a big step: Funny Cars typically run less than four seconds and oftentimes over 330 mph down a 1,000-foot drag strip.

Per NHRA.com, the initial plan for Lindberg calls for him to compete in between 16 and 18 of the NHRA’s 24-race national event schedule, according to team owner Jim Head. Lindberg’s first race in a nitro Funny Car will be the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals, March 16-19, in Gainesville, Florida.

Lindberg will also be in contention for the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Road to the Future award as NHRA’s top overall rookie driver.

Click here for McKenna’s full story on Lindberg.

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Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list; Musquin remains out

Shimoda injured
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Bad news continues to come out of the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki team as they announced Jo Shimoda injured his shoulder in a practice session and will not mount up when the Monster Energy Supercross 250 East division opens in Houston, Texas on February 4. A timetable has not been given for Shimoda’s return, but a press release from the team references multiple weeks.

“I’m doing my best to focus forward on my return to racing,” said Shimoda in the release. “Our goal was to compete for the 250 Supercross Eastern Regional Championship and I know we had been doing the right work to make that happen. Unfortunately, this crash will cause me to miss the start of the season, but I still aim to be back on the track racing for wins before the end of Supercross.”

Shimoda is joined on the sidelines by teammates Seth Hammaker and Austin Forkner, who also suffered injuries in recent weeks.

The news of Hammaker’s sidelining came just two days ago. His wrist injury is sufficient to require surgery, so he too will miss multiple weeks. Hammaker was scheduled to compete in the 250 East division alongside Shimoda.

Forkner was involved in a Lap 1 crash in the 250 West season opener at Anaheim. Multiple injuries, including an ACL tear, will sideline him for the remainder of the season. He described the injury and its aftermath on Instagram.

Forkner will be relieved by Carson Mumford, but not before that rider’s wrist has healed sufficiently. He is scheduled to debut with Kawasaki in Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 Supercross race on February 18.

Shimoda finished fourth in the 2022 Supercross 250 West division and was second in 2021 points in 250 East. In 2021, Shimoda won his first Supercross race at Salt Lake City. Last year, he scored one podium and six top-fives in nine starts.

Shimoda finished second in last year’s outdoor Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, where he added two more SuperMotocross wins including the Unadilla Nationals that kicked off a four-race streak of first- or second-place results.

Kawasaki is not the only team facing injury. Red Bull KTM initially reported Marvin Musquin would be out for the San Diego round with a wrist injury and “maybe more”. This week it was announced he will miss this week’s Triple Crown race in Anaheim and “at least the next several rounds.”