The stars of the NHRA are in Chandler, AZ to test in preparation for the upcoming Circle K NHRA Winternationals. Here is the official NHRA release with some of the teams’ best elapsed times.
Updated Saturday Release with ET’s:
TOMMY JOHNSON JR. AND BRITTANY FORCE ARE QUICKEST SATURDAY TO CLOSE NHRA NITRO SPRING TRAINING
CHANDLER, Ariz. – Tommy Johnson Jr. and Brittany Force posted the quickest runs in their respective categories Saturday during the final day of NHRA Nitro Spring Training at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix.
NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car teams utilized the four-day pre-season test session to prepare for the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals, next weekend (Feb. 11-14) at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. The tradition-rich race near Los Angeles is the season-opening event for the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Johnson powered his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger to the unofficial quickest run ever in Funny Car, a jaw-dropping 3.874 second run at 318.47 mph. Matt Hagan holds the quickest run in history, a 3.879 second run set at Brainerd last season.
“We ran really well all week and John [Collins, crew chief] kept saying we weren’t really leaning on it, we were just testing parts to learn some things,” said Johnson, who had a strong season last year with two wins in eight final rounds, three top qualifying efforts and a third place points finish. “This afternoon he said we’re going to make one more run and we’re going to lean on it a little bit. It was a really good run early and it didn’t run as well at the top end as we were expecting, but a 3.12 to the eighth-mile is pretty awesome.”
Johnson says the strong finish to a great test session gives his team a lot of confidence heading to the season-opener in Pomona in the highly-competitive Funny Car category.
“We had our entire team stay intact after last year and we have sort of picked up where we left off last year,” Johnson said. “The crew worked really hard during the offseason and I am just happy for the guys to make a run like that to close out testing. It’s a good reward for them for all their hard work.”
Hight, the 2009 Funny Car world champion, sped to his quickest run during the test with a 3.885 at 329.34 in his Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro. He narrowly clipped teammate Courtney Force for the second-quickest run of the day, as she posted a 3.890 at 323.89 at the controls of her 10,000 horsepower Traxxas Camaro. In fact, John Force Racing cars claimed seven of the 10 quickest runs of the day as 16-time world champ John Force led the parade with runs of 3.914, 3.927 and 3.930 in his baby blue Peak Camaro. Courtney also ran a 3.915 at 323.74 and Hight added a 3.931 at 323.43.
Other notable runs in Funny Car from the day included a 3.919 at 320.66 from Ron Capps in the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger and a 3.962 at 326.79 from two-time world champ Matt Hagan in the Mopar Dodge. Past Phoenix winner Alexis DeJoria was the quickest of the Kalitta Funny cars with a 3.972 at 320.51 in her Tequila Patron Toyota Camry, followed by defending Funny Car world champ Del Worsham with a 3.983 at 320.81 in his DHL Camry.
Jack Beckman, who had the quickest car on each of the first three days of the test session, spent Saturday making several runs to break in a brand new chassis for the Infinite Hero Charger.
In Top Fuel, Brittany Force continued to impress in the Monster Energy dragster, racing to Saturday’s quickest run with a 3.721 at 319.07. She had three of the 10 quickest runs of the day, also clocking a 3.747 at 325.53 and a 3.758 at 317.64.
“There have differently been some big changes for the entire Monster Energy team,” said Force, who is looking to become the first Force family member to win an NHRA race in a Top Fuel dragster and heads to Pomona riding a wave of momentum from the team’s effort this week.
“We teamed up with [consultant] Alan Johnson and [crew chief] Brian Husen,” she continued. “I’m excited to be out here. We all needed this testing, especially me; I’ve been out of the seat a few months. It feels good to get back in the car. Things are a little different, a whole new system. I’m learning that. We had some great runs. We’re ready to get to Pomona.”
Clay Millican, who is also looking to earn his first NHRA victory in 2016, posted an early number that held as the quickest for much of Saturday, a 3.739 at 288.87, in his Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster. Millican was excited about that run as his incremental numbers down track were very similar to Tony Schumacher’s testing-best of 3.683 from Friday, until a blower belt broke on the car just prior to the finish line.
“We called [owner] Doug Stringer, and he gave us the OK to make a ‘hero run,’” Millican said. “It was going the quickest that I’ve ever been until it broke a blower belt that had too many runs on it. It was an unbelievably great run. The best part is that we didn’t hurt a part all week.”
Doug Kalitta was third-quickest of the day in his Mac Tools dragster with a 3.745 at 325.53. Aussie Richie Crampton posted a 3.748 at 319.22 in the Lucas Oil dragster and defending world champ Antron Brown led the DSR dragster charge with a 3.768 at 297.88 in his Matco Tools dragster.
Circle K NHRA Winternationals qualifying gets underway Friday, Feb. 12 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona with sessions at [12:30] and 3:30 p.m., followed by the final two qualifying sessions on Saturday at [12:30] and 3:30 p.m. Sunday’s finals start at 11 a.m. Tickets are available by calling (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or online at www.nhra.com/tickets.
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Below are the quickest performances in both Top Fuel and Funny Car from Saturday at NHRA Nitro Spring Training:
3.721, 319.07 – Brittany Force
3.739, 288.87 – Clay Millican
3.745, 325.53 – Doug Kalitta
3.747, 322.81 – Brittany Force
3.748, 319.22 – Richie Crampton
3.758, 317.64 – Brittany Force
3.768, 297.88 – Antron Brown
3.770, 316.08 – Shawn Langdon
3.791, 320.13 – Antron Brown
3.802, 325.69 – J.R. Todd
3.839, 272.72 – Leah Pritchett
3.882, 251.67 – J.R. Todd
3.916, 256.75 – Terry McMillen
3.929, 255.00 – Troy Buff
3.935, 306.05 – Terry McMillen
4.123, 242.19 – Troy Buff
3.874, 318.47 – Tommy Johnson Jr.
3.885, 329.34 – Robert Hight
3.890, 323.89 – Courtney Force
3.914, 327.35 – John Force
3.915, 323.74 – Courtney Force
3.919, 320.66 – Ron Capps
3.927, 323.66 – John Force
3.930, 328.14 – John Force
3.931, 323.43 – Robert Hight
3.962, 326.79 – Matt Hagan
3.972, 320.51 – Alexis DeJoria
3.982, 289.57 – Jack Beckman
3.983, 320.81 – Del Worsham
3.987, 319.29 – Ron Capps
3.993, 322.58 – Alexis DeJoria
3.999, 320.97 – Del Worsham
4.008, 273.94 – Cruz Pedregon
4.015, 316.01 – Brian Hough
4.070, 273.39 – Del Worsham
4.153, 252.24 – Jim Campbell
4.211, 225.60 – Matt Hagan
* * *
Below are the top 10 quickest runs overall in each category from the four-day test session:
- 3.683, 325.37 – Tony Schumacher
- 3.714, 330.15 – Dave Connolly
- 3.716, 327.35 – Doug Kalitta
- 3.718, 320.58 – Tony Schumacher
- 3.721, 319.07 – Brittany Force
- 3.721, 318.54 – Brittany Force
- 3.727, 322.88 – Doug Kalitta
- 3.729, 326.08 – Steve Torrence
- 3.731, 326.48 – Steve Torrence
- 3.733, 315.49 – Shawn Langdon
- 3.874, 318.47 – Tommy Johnson Jr.
- 3.880, 325.77 – Jack Beckman
- 3.885, 329.34 – Robert Hight
- 3.890, 323.89 – Courtney Force
- 3.894, 327.03 – Jack Beckman
- 3.895, 325.06 – Jack Beckman
- 3.904, 318.54 – Courtney Force
- 3.912, 324.20 – John Force
- 3.913, 326.16 – Robert Hight
- 3.914, 327.35 – John Force
UPDATED Friday Release with ET’s:
BECKMAN AND SCHUMACHER SET THE PACE FRIDAY AT NHRA NITRO SPRING TRAINING
CHANDLER, Ariz. – NHRA Funny Car racer Jack Beckman posted a time quicker than the current national record that he owns and veteran Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher almost bettered the national record in his category Friday during the third day of NHRA Nitro Spring Training at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix.
NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car teams are utilizing the four-day pre-season test session to prepare for the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals, next weekend (Feb. 11-14) at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. The tradition-rich race near Los Angeles is the season-opening event for the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Beckman powered his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger to a time that would better the current national elapsed time record in Funny Car, a 3.880 second blast with a speed of 325.77 mph. It is the third straight day that Beckman, who owns the national E.T. mark in Funny Car at 3.884 seconds, has had the quickest Funny Car.
“It went 3.88 on a 97-degree track,” said Beckman, the 2012 world champ who finished runner-up in the category after a record-breaking season last year with crew chief Jimmy Prock making the tuning calls.
“Those were the best 330-foot numbers that we’ve ever run,” Beckman continued. “We ran 4.02 earlier with the chute coming out and lifting at 740 [feet]. I could have drug the chute and run 3.98. It was pretty smooth on the last run. It wasn’t doing a lot of squishing around. The front end just started coming up, and all I saw was injector so I got out of it.”
Courtney Force nearly joined Beckman in the 3.8-second range with her best pass of the week, a speedy 3.904 at 318.54 in the Traxxas Chevy Camaro. Her John Force Racing teammates, John Force and Robert Hight, posted the third and fourth quickest runs of the day. The elder Force finished in 3.912 at 324.20 in his Peak Camaro, while the 2009 world champ covered the distance in 3.913 at 326.16 in his Auto Club Camaro. Tommy Johnson Jr. was fifth in the Make-A-Wish Dodge, posting a 3.927 at 323.43.
Several Funny Car drivers made their best efforts of the test on Friday, including Chad Head in his Head Racing Toyota Camry with a 3.938 at 319.52, Ron Capps with a 3.958 at 316.23 in the NAPA Auto Parts Charger and Alexis DeJoria with a 3.963 at 290.26 in the Tequila Patron Camry.
In Top Fuel, eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher blistered the track in his U.S. Army dragster and produced the weekend’s first 3.6-second run. His 3.683 at 325.37 on his final attempt Friday nearly equaled the current NHRA national record of 3.680 seconds held by Antron Brown.
“We might have run a couple 3.60s yesterday if they weren’t early shutoffs,” Schumacher said. “Sometimes you try new stuff and nothing works, but it’s running fast with new parts and a lot of new people working on it. It’s pretty cool getting to work with some new crew guys that used to be adversaries on other teams. The test is going well. In my opinion, the two full months off I’ve had is the longest break in my career. It takes some laps to catch back up to the car when you’ve had time off and hop right into a car that is extremely fast at the get-go.”
Dave Connolly, who finished 10th in points last season in the C&J Energy dragster for Bob Vandergriff Racing, made his best run of the weekend with a strong 3.714 at 330.15 for second-best of the day. Doug Kalitta pushed his Mac Tools dragster to a 3.716 at 327.35 as the day’s third quickest run in Top Fuel. Schumacher also posted a 3.718 at 320.58 earlier in the day.
Steve Torrence and Brittany Force, whose tune-ups are being overseen by nitro consultant Alan Johnson, continued to be among the quickest in Top Fuel. Force posted a Friday-best of 3.721 at 318.54 in her Monster Energy dragster, while Torrence followed up his stellar Thursday runs with a best of 3.731 at 326.48 in the Capco Contractors dragster.
Two-time Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan and defending Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Top Fuel winner Morgan Lucas also made several shut-off and tire-smoking attempts in their respective machines.
Below are the quickest performances in both Top Fuel and Funny Car from day three of NHRA Nitro Spring Training:
3.683, 325.37 – Tony Schumacher
3.714, 330.15 – Dave Connolly
3.716, 327.35 – Doug Kalitta
3.718, 320.58 – Tony Schumacher
3.721, 318.54 – Brittany Force
3.727, 322.88 – Doug Kalitta
3.731, 326.48 – Steve Torrence
3.744, 326.48 – Dave Connolly
3.746, 298.34 – Antron Brown
3.751, 317.34 – Antron Brown
3.772, 299.13 – Richie Crampton
3.787, 281.01 – Shawn Langdon
3.811, 259.13 – Steve Torrence
3.821, 252.52 – Clay Millican
3.825, 273.39 – J.R. Todd
3.844, 260.21 – J.R. Todd
3.901, 299.49 – Brittany Force
3.941, 284.15 – Troy Buff
3.955, 246.53 – Leah Pritchett
3.991, 231.60 – Antron Brown
4.008, 217.13 – Doug Kalitta
4.531, 172.43 – Terry McMillen
6.681, 96.35 – Morgan Lucas
3.880, 325.77 – Jack Beckman
3.904, 318.54 – Courtney Force
3.912, 324.20 – John Force
3.913, 326.16 – Robert Hight
3.927, 323.43 – Tommy Johnson Jr.
3.934, 325.06 – Robert Hight
3.938, 319.52 – Chad Head
3.958, 316.23 – Ron Capps
3.963, 290.26 – Alexis DeJoria
3.971, 319.22 – Tommy Johnson Jr.
3.974, 319.82 – Ron Capps
3.974, 310.20 – Tommy Johnson Jr.
3.982, 316.30 – Del Worsham
3.984, 319.60 – Del Worsham
3.988, 316.30 – Tim Wilkerson
3.990, 318.32 – Chad Head
4.036, 252.60 – Ron Capps
4.025, 256.45 – Jack Beckman
4.141, 251.30 – Cruz Pedregon
7.977, 84.05 – Matt Hagan
TJ Coughlin completes Top Fuel license in Schumacher’s Red Fuel dragster
CHANDLER, Ariz. – Steve Torrence and Jack Beckman were the quickest in their respective categories Thursday during the second day of NHRA Nitro Spring Training at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix.
NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car teams are utilizing the four-day pre-season test session to prepare for the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals, next weekend (Feb. 11-14) at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. The tradition-rich race near Los Angeles is the season-opening event for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Torrence, who finished eighth in points last season, stole the show in Top Fuel, powering his Capco Contractors dragster to four low 3.7-second runs during the day, with a best of 3.729 seconds at 326.08 mph.
“That’s going to be my career fastest run, at least through today,” said Torrence, who also posted times of 3.739, 3.750 and 3.753 seconds. “We didn’t even go all the way to the end, clicked it at about 700-750 feet. Went 2.96 to half-track, and I am really impressed with the way the car is running. This new Morgan Lucas Racing chassis is working wonders for us. My team has worked their tails off all winter to get this car going. I’m glad all of this hard work is coming to fruition.”
Shawn Langdon followed Torrence with his 3.733 at 315.49 in the Red Fuel dragster, while Richie Crampton was third quickest in his Lucas Oil dragster with a 3.747 at 298.47. Brittany Force was fourth-quickest, posting a pair of 3.75-second runs in her Monster dragster. Defending world champ Antron Brown posted a best of 3.758 at 292.20 in his Matco Tools dragster.
In Funny Car, Beckman was quickest and produced a pair of 3.89-second runs, with his best effort in the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger a 3.894 at 327.02.
“We are trying different parts and a different tune up on the car,” said Beckman, who had a memorable season last year where he raced to seven victories, set the national record four times and finished second in points. “It’s not just picking up where we left off in Pomona and trying to tweak the timers on clutch flow or the amount of the degrees in the ignition timing. We’re really trying to do things to make a better performing race car here.
“And in testing nobody gets any points, there’s no trophy. But there’s pride. And a lot of times even when you run poorly, you find something that can help you later in the year. We’ve had three outstanding laps so far this weekend, and there’s no reason to think we can’t continue the next two days, I feel good because the guys feel good.”
Tommy Johnson Jr. was second-quickest in his Make-A-Wish Dodge with a 3.932 at 321.81 and 16-time world champ John Force was third in his Peak Chevy Camaro with a 3.945 at 323.97 mph. Defending world champ Del Worsham posted a best of 3.956 at 325.77 in his DHL Toyota Camry.
Doug Kalitta and Ron Capps both experienced minor on-track engine explosions with flashes of fire during separate attempts.
Third-generation racer T.J. Coughlin made three runs in the DSR Red Fuel dragster to complete his Top Fuel license requirement. After competing in NHRA Pro Mod competition last season, TJ is exploring his options in the Top Fuel category and would love to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Jeg Coughlin Sr., who competed in NHRA Top Fuel racing in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Coughlin made three passes: 3.999 at 229.98, 3.853 at 321.81 and 3.870 at 289.14. Prior to today he had also made several runs in Del Worsham’s Top Fuel car at another track. He is in awe of the massive 10,000 horsepower machines.
“It’s pretty wild,” said Coughlin, son of two-time NHRA Pro Mod champ Troy Coughlin. “Thanks to Don Schumacher Racing for giving me the opportunity to do this with them here. It felt great. It was extremely fast and it leaves hard. It takes your shoulders and pushes them back and the further you go the further [your shoulders] go back. You really can feel what you are seeing on the graph of the G-force meter. It’s just unbelievable and very fascinating.”
He finished eighth in Pro Mod points last season with a trio of semifinal finishes in his JEGS Corvette. He says there’s a little bit of a comparison to his Pro Mod machine.
“It leaves a lot harder than a Pro Mod car but it is similar,” Coughlin said. “The way the power comes in and pushes you back it’s a lot like that location wise on the racetrack, but it’s a lot more dramatic in a Top Fuel car. There’s almost no words for it.”
Coughlin says he is still formulating the plan for a Top Fuel career and wants to see what his options are following the licensing procedure.
“I’ve always been into the history of drag racing and I would go to YouTube and watch some older races and I caught one from ‘78 or ‘79 and saw my Grandfather [Jeg Coughlin Sr.] was runner-up to Connie Kalitta and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s really cool,’” Coughlin said. “It made me think about it. I like the history, the amount of work and the effort it takes to be a good driver and good team and working together. I am just really appreciative of the opportunity Don Schumacher and his group have granted me this weekend. They have great equipment and it was a lot of fun today.”
Several other drivers made runs today, many of them either shut-off runs or tire-smokers, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight, Matt Hagan, Chad Head, Alexis DeJoria, Cruz Pedregon and Tim Wilkerson in Funny Car and Troy Buff in Top Fuel.
Schumacher and Beckman were quickest in their respective categories during the few runs that were attempted on Wednesday. Schumacher powered to a 3.745 at 326.95 in the U.S. Army dragster and Beckman’s best was 3.920 at 316.60.
Below are some of the quickest performances from day two of NHRA Nitro Spring Training:
3.729, 326.08 – Steve Torrence
3.733, 315.49 – Shawn Langdon
3.739, 282.54 – Steve Torrence
3.750, 325.45 – Steve Torrence
3.753, 296.11 – Steve Torrence
3.758, 292.20 – Antron Brown
3.747, 298.47 – Richie Crampton
3.751, 316.38 – Brittany Force
3.758, 320.97 – Brittany Force
3.775, 272.12 – Antron Brown
3.781, 260.21 – Tony Schumacher
3.791, 292.58 – Leah Pritchett
3.795, 272.67 – Leah Pritchett
3.825, 274.00 – Antron Brown
3.853, 321.81 – TJ Coughlin
3.863, 269.03 – Dave Connolly
3.865, 239.82 – Tony Schumacher
3.870, 289.14 – TJ Coughlin
3.930, 256.41 – J.R. Todd
3.936, 252.05 – Dave Connolly
3.894, 327.03 – Jack Beckman
3.895, 325.06 – Jack Beckman
3.932, 321.81 – Tommy Johnson Jr.
3.945, 323.97 – John Force
3.956, 325.77 – Del Worsham
3.963, 234.82 – John Force