POMONA, Calif. -- NHRA Funny Car driver Todd Lesenko escaped injury Saturday when his engine exploded on a qualifying run and shot the body off the car more than 50 feet in the air before it landed in the return lane at Auto Club Raceway.
It was the second time of the event that a Funny Car exploded into flames. The body of Jack Beckman's car was destroyed in a first-round engine explosion on Thursday. Beckman's only injury was a singed left eyebrow from the flames.
Lesenko's Funny Car body popped off the car in one piece, shooting straight up in the air like a rocket. Fortunately, it landed in an area where no one was standing.
All four wheels of Lesenko's car came off the ground briefly as the car turned sideways and almost turned over. But Lesenko got control of the car and brought it to a stop.
"The car was performing really well," Lesenko said, "But something happened mechanically, obviously. When you're in that situation, you just try to make sure you're not in your competitor's way, you stay in your lane and keep it off the wall."
Lesenko stayed in the car after it came to a stop, but nodded to safety officials that he was OK.