DON SCHUMACHER RACING DRIVERS MAKE FIRST TEST LAPS IN WEST PALM BEACH WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 18, 2009) - At the invitation of Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing, Don Schumacher Racing teams tested at the newly revamped Palm Beach International ...
DON SCHUMACHER RACING DRIVERS MAKE FIRST TEST LAPS IN WEST PALM BEACH
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 18, 2009) - At the invitation of Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing, Don Schumacher Racing teams tested at the newly revamped Palm Beach International Raceway in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in preparation for the opening of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series in Pomona, Calif., Feb. 5-8.
Next up for the DSR teams is the NAPA AUTO PARTS National Time Trials at Firebird Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., Jan. 23-25.
Here are comments from the DSR Funny Car drivers and the driver of the FRAM Top Fuel dragster following the three-day test session in West Palm Beach:
CORY McCLENATHAN, FRAM Top Fuel Dragster. Third quickest for the weekend in 10 passes, 3.887/208.85. The all-new team members, including new crew chiefs Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler, were also spending time jelling. McClenathan will continue testing here on Monday.
"We were actually testing so many things that we weren't really trying to make full passes," said McClenathan. "We're excited. For Todd and Phil and all the guys coming from Funny Cars and working on the dragster I'm already very pleased with what I've seen as far as early numbers are concerned on the FRAM car. It's a big difference working on a dragster than working on a Funny Car. And the way these guys are conducting themselves on this car has already shown me a lot of class and lot of finesse as I look to the future.
"We have a brand-new car. We took down the spare car we had up in the hauler last year. We wanted to start with something fresh, basically. We have some parts and pieces that we're trying out to help better our program and it looks as though they're all going to work really well. You need that edge, so I'm excited to be able to try some new things.
"The guys have done a great job this weekend. We made only one full run and shut off a little early, and it ran 3.887. So I was happy about that. We left a little bit on the table there, so it probably would have run .86, easy. It just shows that we do not have to step on it to still run very well.
"Even though some of the other cars have run a little bit better than we have, and our teammate Tony Schumacher has run better than we have (3.812/317.05), we're in a different mode. We're more in the `let's go here, let's go to half-track before we make full passes' mode.
"I'm excited for tomorrow and then for Phoenix next week to see what this FRAM Top Fuel dragster is going to be able to run. It really doesn't matter what you run during testing. What matters is what you can do in Pomona. It's funny, to be in drag racing for as many years as I have been in a Top Fuel car, I have not worked with one guy on this team before. It's amazing to have all these people out here and never have worked with any of them.
"I can't wait for the year to start. I think it's time to get back to work. It's been a very productive weekend and I'm looking forward to next weekend also."
RON CAPPS, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car - second quickest of the weekend with a 4.098/299.66 in seven runs. Capps posted the second fastest speed of the Funny Cars in his last full pass, a 4.103/302.25. (Del Worsham was quickest and fastest at 4.056/308.50, set in the cooler final night session.)
"This track is great. Every time you go to a track for the first time you don't know what to expect, especially in preseason testing," said Capps. "It's not just the crew chiefs testing, it's not just the crews testing, it's everybody, including the drivers. We're just trying to get used to the cars again. And This facility is great. It's 100 percent concrete. They've bent over backwards and have done everything as far as preparation of the track goes and it's been a real pleasurable experience.
"We've been spoiled with having Las Vegas to go to for testing in the past and we always go to Phoenix. And Las Vegas is just too cold and it's been in the 70s here, which is just right. So, it's a great track, great facility.
"We got to experiment with some things. I tell you, (crew chief) Ed McCulloch has come out with fire in his eyes. We're really angry that we didn't do better than we did last year, especially at the end of last year. We finally got the fire we were talking about since the last race at Pomona. We're extremely motivated to start to get some race wins for NAPA AUTO PARTS, and you can tell. You can tell by the mood of everybody in the pit area, because this stuff trickles down from the top. I can tell by driving the car that it's a completely different animal, and I'm excited.
"We've got ourselves a really good hot rod right now and it's only after four runs. The first full run down the track was a 4.09, so that tells you how good this NAPA team is going to be this season."
JACK BECKMAN, Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Funny Car. Fifth quickest for the weekend. Quickest lap of seven passes was a 4.144/298.93. A later pass produced a 300 mph run (4.175/300.00).
"We ran three days, seven runs," said Beckman. "We tried some stuff. We also have four crew men who hadn't worked on the Valvoline/MTS car last year so we had a chance to slowly ramp up in the maintenance between runs to where everybody is getting more comfortable.
"We made three solid laps. We ran our first 300 mph of the year here. It is always neat to see that on the time slip. The new chassis works, the guys work well together, and we've got basic tune-up numbers. Now we can go to Phoenix and fine-tune it.
"We got to play with some stuff here and I think that in Phoenix we'll try to finesse it and get closer to our race-day combo."
MATT HAGAN, BrakeSafe Rear-End Collision Avoidance System Dodge Funny Car. Fourth quickest of the weekend. His quickest of 10 passes was a 4.124/301.40. In his first runs as a member of Don Schumacher Racing, Hagan made 10 consistent passes, six of which were in the 4.1-second range.
"I had a great experience this weekend," said Hagan. "Everybody is working well together. I learned so much this weekend from talking to all the guys. Tommy (DeLago, crew chief) is helping me out with my driving and I'm bouncing stuff off of him and everybody else. I'm just trying to act like a sponge to absorb all the knowledge that's floating around here.
"I think we had a really, really productive weekend. We're right on track where I think we need to be. We're not running 4.0s yet but it's our first week out in this car and everything is new to everybody here.
"I can see great out of the BrakeSafe Dodge. I've been driving it right to the finish line, at least that's what the computer says, and I feel like it, so I'm getting a lot of good laps in. So far, so good. It's been really great.
"The engine looks happy and everything is going good. I can't ask for a better car to be in right now.
"This is a great track. It's very smooth and it seems to hold the power that you want to throw at it. The conditions could not have been better."