Firebird time trials open 2003 testing

Teams prepare for the 2003 NHRA Powerade Drag Racing season. CHANDLER, Ariz. - Firebird International Raceway will serve as the host for the 2003 NHRA National Time Trials, Feb. 17-19, as NHRA teams prepare for the 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing...

Teams prepare for the 2003 NHRA Powerade Drag Racing season.

CHANDLER, Ariz. - Firebird International Raceway will serve as the host for the 2003 NHRA National Time Trials, Feb. 17-19, as NHRA teams prepare for the 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Competitors will try to take advantage of the knowledge they obtain from the preseason and apply it to the 23-race national event schedule that will culminate in a NHRA POWERade championship.

The 2003 NHRA POWERade season begins with the 43rd annual K&N Filters Winternationals, Feb. 6-9, at the historic Pomona Raceway in Pomona, Calif. The season opener isn't the only event teams will be preparing for as the NHRA will return to the Valley of the Sun for the second event of the 2003 season, the 19th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals, Feb. 20-23, at Firebird Raceway.

Many of the sport's biggest stars will be in attendance as teams, drivers and crew chiefs try and get a grip on the tune-up required to power everything down the quarter-mile drag strip ranging from the 6,000 horsepower, 330-mph nitromethane-burning Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars, to the sleeker 200-mph Pro Stock vehicles. Different aspects of the car ranging from the tires, to the clutch setup, aerodynamics, and the fuel system will be tested during the session to enhance the performance of the vehicle.

In what will be one of the most exciting stories of 2003, the young Brandon Bernstein will take his place behind the wheel of the famed Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster which was left vacant by his father Kenny, who retired at the conclusion of the 2002 season. The younger Bernstein will be attempting to continue the winning tradition established by the Top Fuel and Funny Car legend.

Funny Car icon and fan-favorite John Force earned his 12th NHRA POWERade championship in 2002 and his 10th straight in his familiar Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. Force will be joined by teammates Tony Pedregon and Gary Densham as his entire three-car team plans to test at FIR as they seek to maintain their reputation as the sports most dominant team. Force Racing will be joined by Schumacher Racing and it's new four-car team, which features one Top Fuel dragster and three Funny Cars. The U.S. Army sponsored dragster is piloted by 1999 Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher, the first driver to eclipse the 330-mph barrier which he accomplished at FIR in 1999. Three-time Top Fuel champion Gary Scelzi will be the newest driver to join Whit Bazemore and Scotty Cannon on Schumacher Racing, giving the Indianapolis-based team a formidable Funny Car contingent to challenge Force's three Ford Mustangs. Rising star Del Worsham, the defending winner of the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals and teammate Johnny Gray also will be testing at FIR as they seek to improve on a 2002 season where they both finished in the NHRA POWERade Funny Car top 10 standings.

For ticket information call Firebird International Raceway at (602) 268-0200, or Ticketmaster at (480) 784-4444.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Gary Densham , Scotty Cannon , Brandon Bernstein , Johnny Gray