Top Fuel and Funny Car teams are utilizing the four-day pre-season test session to prepare for the season-opening at Pomona in Southern California.
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
3.880, 325.77 – Jack Beckman
3.904, 318.54 – Courtney Force
3.912, 324.20 – John Force