CLERMONT, Ind. -- Larry Dixon, Del Worsham and Greg Anderson were quickest among competitors Wednesday at Indianapolis Raceway Park participating in the final day of testing for next weekend's Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. NHRA teams utilized the...
CLERMONT, Ind. -- Larry Dixon, Del Worsham and Greg Anderson were quickest among competitors Wednesday at Indianapolis Raceway Park participating in the final day of testing for next weekend's Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
NHRA teams utilized the two day test session in preparation for the world's most prestigious drag race, Aug. 27-Sept. 1, at the historic multi-purpose auto racing facility. The $2.2 million race is the 17th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and features 13 hours of television coverage by ESPN/ESPN2.
Defending Top Fuel champion Dixon, a two-time winner of the event, drove his Miller Lite dragster to a 4.603 second run at 307.86 mph to pace the Top Fuel contingent.
A pair of drivers who have won the historic event in both nitro categories drove their Top Fuel dragsters to impressive performances. Kenny Bernstein clocked a 4.604 at 322.73 in the Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster, while veteran driver Jim Head stopped the clocks in 4.641 at 309.27.
Defending event winner Tony Schumacher, who posted the quickest run of the two-day test yesterday at 4.519 seconds, recorded a 4.719 at 312.57 as his best for the day in the U.S. Army dragster.
Past NHRA Funny Car winner K.C. Spurlock completed his Top Fuel licensing procedure by powering the Carrier Boyz entry to four consecutive runs that met NHRA competition dept. requirements. His quickest effort, a 4.715 at 294.43, was followed by his best speed performance, a 4.740 at 302.62. The Nashville, Tenn. native also logged runs of 4.798 at 289.94 and 4.854 at 289.38.
Worsham, a runner-up at this event during his sophomore season in 1992, raced to the quickest performance in Funny Car for the two-day test. He drove his Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird to a 4.783 at 316.45 to close the test session. His effort was quicker than Tony Pedregon's No. 1 qualifying performance from last season (4.797 seconds).
Meanwhile, Pedregon drove his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang to a 4.823 at 309.20, while teammate John Force clocked a 4.844 at 315.86 in his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Mustang.
The most consistent Funny Car of the day belonged to Gary Scelzi, who posted runs of 4.823 at 318.02 and 4.828 at 320.58 in his Oakley Dodge Stratus.
Three-time Indy winner Cruz Pedregon raced to his best of testing, driving the Advance Auto Parts Pontiac Firebird to a 4.865 at 314.24.
NHRA Summit Sport Compact Series regular Grant Downing earned his NHRA Funny Car license with runs of 5.354 at 285.17 and 5.336 at 281.60. Downing, who works as a chassis builder for Worsham Racing, drives a Toyota Tundra for Venom Performance in the Pro RWD category in NHRA's sport compact touring series. After he completed his licensing runs he left the track for an overnight flight to Portland, Ore. for this weekend's Auto Trader Magazine Northwest NHRA Sport Compact Nationals presented by Les Schwab Tires at Woodburn (Ore.) Dragstrip.
Anderson's quickest Pro Stock performance bettered both ends of the current IRP track record when he covered the quarter-mile in 6.817 seconds at 202.64 mph in the Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am. Ron Krisher holds both ends of the IRP track record in Pro Stock (6.819 at 201.31).
While Anderson's unofficial track record run took place in the evening and produced some raised eyebrows, his most impressive run took place in the heat of the day. He navigated the sizzling IRP surface in 6.861 at 201.70 around 2 p.m. local time.
Jim Yates, a two-time series champion but never a U.S. Nationals winner, made his first career final round appearance at Indy last season. He drove his Splitfire/Peak Grand Am to a 6.840 at 200.56. Larry Morgan drove the quickest Dodge, clocking a 6.850 at 200.92 in his Stratus R/T.
In Pro Stock Bike, Antron Brown recorded a 7.253 at 180.52 on the U.S. Army Suzuki. Craig Treble, the defending winner of the K&N Filters Pro Bike Klash, shut off his Matco Tools Suzuki early and coasted to a 7.265 at 168.07. Bike rookie Sean Conner clocked a 7.251 at 183.84.
Best runs, by category and driver, for the Tuesday and Wednesday test sessions at Indianapolis Raceway Park:
TOP FUEL --
Kenny Bernstein 4.604/322.73
Larry Dixon 4.603/307.86
Doug Herbert 4.693/290.69
K.C. Spurlock 4.715/302.62
Tony Schumacher 4.519/324.20
FUNNY CAR --
Whit Bazemore 4.858/320.36
Scotty Cannon 4.882/315.49
Ron Capps 4.942/308.99
Gary Densham 4.807/320.43
Grant Downing 5.354/285.17
John Force 4.844/315.86
Bob Gilbertson 5.093/295.46
Tommy Johnson Jr. 4.901/310.98
Cruz Pedregon 4.865/314.24
Tony Pedregon 4.823/309.20
Gary Scelzi 4.823/3320.58
Del Worsham 4.7883/316.45
PRO STOCK --
Terry Adams 6.848/200.65
Greg Anderson 6.817/202.64
Dave Connolly 6.888/199.70
Randy Daniels 6.924/198.47
Arturo Delgado 6.933/198.93
Frank DePhillips 7.032/196.33
Jeff Dickey 6.999/196.44
V. Gaines 6.937/199.43
Scott Geoffrion 6.860/200.68
Steve Johns 6.862/201.61
Warren Johnson 6.837/201.94
Ron Krisher 6.874/200.80
Kevin Lawrence 6.996/198.90
Tom Martino 6.867/200.05
Larry Morgan 6.39 PM
(driving '03 Dodge Stratus) 6.850/200.92; (driving '99 Neon) 6.841/200.59
Robert Patrick 6.900/199.40
Mark Pawuk 6.859/199.97
Steve Schmidt 6.852/201.04
(in Mike Thomas' '03 Cavalier) 6.999/195.62
NOTE: (car went out of control when the parachute failed, hitting the left wall, overturning at least once, then hitting the right wall before coming to a rest on its top in the middle of the track)
Ben Watson 6.926/199.40
Mark Whisnant 6.873/199.94
Gene Wilson 6.860/201.46
(George Marnell's car) 6.845/200.89
Jim Yates 6.840/200.86
Bob Yonke 6.912/199.46
PRO STOCK BIKE --
Antron Brown 7.253/180.72
Fred Camarena 7.340/179.18
Sean Conner 7.251/183.84
Steve Johnson 7.275/183.77
Craig Treble 7.265/168.07
Michael Phillips 1.129 3.107
(shut off, transmission problem)
NHRA DRIVER COMMENTS, MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS TESTING
Q: You've had a couple of good passes in the test session, are you guys going for it or being conservative?
SCHUMACHER: We're trying to get down the track in the heat. Last night it was cool and the track was outstanding and I actually clicked it off at 1,250 feet, so that was a really outstanding run (4.519 seconds). And then you have to come out during the day and make it down the track. Alan (Johnson, crew chief) right before that run made them do some dragging and put some rubber down because both cars before us blew the tires off it. We haven't looked at the computer yet. I couldn't tell you. I know it had a hole out early going down the track. We ran a (4.64) with a cylinder out earlier in the heat, probably the hottest point of the day. I don't know what changes they made. I really don't know what happened because we haven't had a chance to look at it yet. I'm happy with the performance and I can't wait to get to Indy and race.
Q: Is there any pressure coming here being the defending champion?
SCHUMACHER: I think there is pressure for everybody that comes to this race just because it is Indy. Being the defending champion, not at all. All we can do is go up there and stage the car and do it right.
Q: How is the chemistry developing between you and Alan Johnson?
SCHUMACHER: It's going great and gets better every day. I think that if we keep putting trust and faith in each other we will have a world championship team next year.
Q: Your team is really close to getting a win. Do you think you will get it at the U.S. Nationals?
PEDREGON: We feel like it's ready to happen at any time. We've been testing a lot this year and it's really a matter of things coming together. The people that I have on this team are getting used to the equipment and we are all coming together and have a good understanding of what we are trying to do and how to run the car. It's been a little slower than we would have liked, but it's nice to see us coming together. I think we're right there. I think we have as good a chance as anybody out here really to win the U. S. Nationals.
Q: What are you working on in this test session?
PEDREGON: We're trying to go fast and pick up the pace. Our car has been consistent and we've established a good baseline and a hot track set-up as we proved on the West Coast Swing we're pretty much consistent every round. We race to run faster when the conditions allow. Coming into this race we didn't have a 4.70 or a potential 4.70 tune-up that we can count on and that's what we're here for. I told Rob (Flynn, co-crew chief) and Dave (Fletcher, co-crew chief) the reason why we are coming here and we are going to spend Advance Auto Parts' money to try and go fast. Even if we smoke the tires each time that's OK because we are trying to go 4.70s. What's not OK is running what we've been running out here. That's the main reason why we are here. We are trying to go for the top spot. We're going to let it be known to everyone on the team that we are here to think big and think No. 1 qualifying position and think win this race. And everything we are doing is consistent with that.
Q: You've had a lot of success at this event in past years, what would another win at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals mean to you?
PEDREGON: It would mean a lot. I mean, this place is special to me and it would really make our season a success. We've got a nice streak going qualifying for every race, something I haven't done in years, even dating back to 1997. I think I'm coming in here with a car good enough to win the race. And I felt we had a shot to win with our own car in 2000, but we had a parts failure in the semis. It would mean a lot and more than anything it would send the message to our team that we belong. It would mean for next year we could think about the points and this year we are tying to finish in the top 10. I'm thinking if we can stay up in the top 10 and move up a few spots that would be great. But to win the U. S. Nationals, like they always say, if you don't win the championship and you win this race, your season is a success.
Q: What do you think of track conditions?
PEDREGON: Well it's hot and anytime it's hot it's not as good as we would like, but we may have to race when it is this hot and I would rather have it warm like this so there are no surprises when we come to the race. This track withstands the heat more than any other track out on the circuit. It maintains pretty good traction so you can run quick and fast while it's warm out there. So it's about what we expected. If we come back and it's 10 degrees cooler then we can run even faster. So we would rather have it this way than the other way around.
Q: You talk about your team's turn around, is there one key factor to it?
PEDREGON: Time. Time has been the main thing, and we've been making runs and runs and runs. I told Rob and Dave that we can test as much as we want. We want to cram what might take a year to develop into six months. Thank God we've had the budget to test the car on Mondays as much as we can. But more than anything, the time we have spent together. It's hard to simulate race conditions when you are testing, but the more we are together and the more we understand the car and they understand what I want, gives us the ability to have success. I would like to put my finger on one thing, but time together is it. The more time goes on, I think we will be able to improve.
Q: You've had a great season so far but would winning the U.S. Nationals put the cherry on the sundae?
ANDERSON: Absolutely. It's been a brilliant season so far and I'm really trying to win that championship, but the last thing I want is to win the championship and look back and say I didn't win Indy. I want to win Indy the year I win the championship because that's our biggest race and it means the most. We prepare so hard for that race. Any secret or any trick that we've had up our sleeves the past few months we kinda wait until Indy and pull it out. Everybody brings their best stuff here and runs their best here. It takes a hell of a damn effort to win this race and it's our Super Bowl or Indy 500 or whatever you want to call it. This means the most to us and absolutely if I go on to win the championship I want this race to be one that I've won.
Q: Sounds like you are really putting a ton of pressure on yourself.
ANDERSON: I am. We are working around the clock and we are all very serious about it. We've got the championship in sight now. It's not a done deal, we've got a slight lead on Kurt (Johnson). If we continue to do what we've been doing, we've got a damn good shot at doing it. If we step on our toes we could lose it too. It could go away as quick as we got it. We know we are in a great position to win it and at the same time we feel we have the best running car the past four or five races. We have the best shot at winning this race, we just need to come in here and make sure it happens.
Q: How is the track?
ANDERSON: The track is great so far. I have no complaints. It is nice and smooth; it's wonderful. The track is always great out here.
Q: You've won out here as driver and crew chief, which one is more memorable?
ANDERSON: I guess the one that I won (driving) is much more important to me. But if I could win this race again, that one would be more special to me because it's like golf or whatever. If you win one major tournament in your career, no one pays attention to it. If I win this race only once in my life, people could say it's a fluke or something. You need to come back and repeat. It's like major golf wins and that's what I need to do so people know I am for real. It's very important and I think this one if I can pull it off, would be more important.