TOPEKA, Kan.– The question of “when” for Hillary Will has been answered – It’s today. Sunday at Heartland Park Topeka in Topeka, Kans., Top Fuel rising star Hillary Will, driver of the 8,000-horsepower KB Racing, LLC Top Fuel dragster, picked up the first NHRA national event of her young career at the O’Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals, the 9th event of the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, with a final round victory over Larry Dixon, 4.744 seconds, 304.53 mph to 4.960 seconds, 281.42 mph.Will becomes the eighth female Top Fuel winner in NHRA history and now joins other auto racing female winners in what has become the year of the woman racer so far in 2008. Recently, Ashley Force became the first female event winner in the NHRA Funny Car class, and Danica Patrick became the first woman to win in the Indy Car Series earlier this year. Two weeks ago Melanie Troxel became the first woman to win event titles in both of the NHRA’s nitro-fueled classes – Top Fuel and Funny Car.
Will’s KB Racing, LLC team’s, led by crew chief Jim Oberhofer and co-crew chief Troy Fasching, last trip to the finals was at the event in Memphis in 2006. The event in Topeka was the 55th NHRA national event of Will’s career.
“Words can’t describe how I feel right now,” Will, a 28-year old native of Fortuna, Calif., said. “I have dreamed of this day for so long, and it’s finally here. My KB racing, LLC team is awesome. They’ve given me such a great race car all year long, and I can’t thank them and my team owners Ken Black and Kenny Black enough for everything that they have done for me and this wonderful opportunity, “We knew we had everything to win, and today everything went our way. Thank you to all of our sponsors and everyone who has supported us and stuck with us. Now that we have gotten a win, I’m sure it’s just going to make us hungrier for more.
“This is definitely the year of the woman racer. It’s an honor for me to be mentioned with all of the great women who have raced and won.
En route to the landmark win and the second final of her three-year Top Fuel career Will defeated Doug Herbert in round one, Morgan Lucas in the quarterfinals, and Cory McClenathan in the semifinals.
With her victory, Will moves up to 4th in POWERade championship points standings. It’s the highest points placement for Will in her career.
Will and the KB Racing, LLC team have now won 13 rounds of eliminations so far in 2008, four more rounds than they won in all of the 23 events last season.
Will’s Kalitta Motorsports teammate Dave Grubnic, driver of the DHL Top Fuel dragster, also got his first NHRA event win in Topeka in 2005.
At the first two events of this season’s 24-event NHRA national event schedule, Will set the track record for speed, for either gender, at both of the quarter-miles at Phoenix Int’l Raceway (334.32 mph) and at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona (Calif.) (334.56 mph). Will’s speedy blast in California established her as the fastest woman ever in drag racing. She and the KB Racing, LLC team were also the fastest of the racing weekend (tie) at the third event in Gainesville, Fla., with a 330.63-mph lap. They were again the fastest team of the fifth event in Las Vegas, 331.85 mph.
A former standout in the Top Alcohol Dragster class, Will moved up to the quickest and fastest NHRA professional class, Top Fuel, in 2006 behind the wheel of a newly formed team owned by Las Vegas businessman Ken Black and managed by Kalitta Motorsports, the multi-car team founded and owned by drag racing icon Connie “the Bounty Hunter” Kalitta. She won her first Top Fuel event trophy in Norwalk (IHRA) in her rookie season and made her first NHRA final-round appearance in Memphis. She finished the season in tenth place in Top Fuel championship points in ‘06.