Back in 2015, Jim Campbell had never driven a nitro Funny Car.

Fast-forward to the present and Campbell is now the driver for Jim Dunn Racing’s Funny Car – and Campbell is truly appreciative of the opportunity.

“I’m absolutely honored and privileged to race with Jim Dunn,” Campbell said. “He’s such a legend. Every once and awhile I pinch myself to make sure I’m still alive because this is a dream come true. I’m really looking forward to the 2017 season.”

Campbell replaces John Hale. Hale drove the Jim Dunn Racing Funny Car for 48 races in the 2015-16 seasons, finishing 13th in the points standings both seasons.

It was announced Jan. 9 that 7-Eleven will partner with Jim Dunn Racing and associate sponsor Oberto Beef Jerky for the 2017 NHRA season. The primary colors of 7-Eleven green and orange will be showcased at more than half of the 24 NHRA national events. Featured races will be in markets where 7-Eleven stores are accessible to race fans on their way to and from the race track each day.

The 2017 NHRA season begins Feb. 9-12 at the Winternationals in Pomona, Calif.

Campbell joins JDR following a decent 2016 rookie season. He qualified for 11 of the 12 races he went to as he split time driving Terry Haddock’s Funny Car and Chuck and Del Worsham’s Funny Car. Campbell’s best performance was a second-round loss to Del Worsham at the spring race at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

However, Campbell’s biggest highlight came at the U.S. Nationals in September in Indianapolis when he qualified No. 13 with a career-best run of 3.977-seconds at 315.56 mph in the Worsham Funny Car.

“Del and Chuck were very inspirational and they gave me a very bad race car to run out there,” Campbell said. “I learned a lot from Del and Chuck, and the seat time helped me immensely. There’s a difference from driving a regular Funny Car and a fast Funny Car. Doing back-to-back 3-second runs at Indy was absolutely awesome. I drove a Nostalgia Funny Car for about 12 or 13 times at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School. Then, I got licensed on my first three passes at Bakersfield in June of 2015 and after that I went racing in 2016.”

As for 2017, Campbell has lofty expectations.

“Last year my goals were to get some seat time and run in the 3 seconds,” he said. “This year, I want to win a race and I would like to make the Countdown (to the Championship).”

Campbell lives in South Gate, Calif., the same city were Jim Dunn Racing is headquartered.

“It worked out really good that we are both next to each other that way we can get a lot of stuff done,” Campbell said.