PAST WINNERS DIXON, SCELZI AND ANDERSON ARE QUICKEST AT OPENING DAY OF MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS TESTING AT INDIANAPOLIS RACEWAY PARK CLERMONT, Ind. -- Larry Dixon clocked the quickest Top Fuel pass in his Miller Lite dragster Tuesday during...
PAST WINNERS DIXON, SCELZI AND ANDERSON ARE QUICKEST AT OPENING DAY OF MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS TESTING AT INDIANAPOLIS RACEWAY PARK
CLERMONT, Ind. -- Larry Dixon clocked the quickest Top Fuel pass in his Miller Lite dragster Tuesday during the opening day of testing for the 51st annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, the world's most prestigious drag race.
Two-time Mac Tools U.S. Nationals winner Dixon and a host of NHRA teams are utilizing the two-day open test session in preparation for the $2.6 million race, the 18th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Since posting his second victory of the season at Englishtown in June, the two-time Top Fuel world champion has recorded the top speed at three of six events. Now Dixon hopes to use a hometown advantage to end defending event winner Tony Schumacher's streak of three consecutive victories at the sport's marquee event. He led the 10 Top Fuel cars on the property at Indianapolis Raceway Park with a performance of 4.553 seconds at 322.04 mph.
"Everything went very smoothly today," said Dixon, an Indianapolis resident who is third in the point standings behind series leader Doug Kalitta and Schumacher. "On the first run, the car smoked the tires instantly. We made an adjustment, went back up and I drove it to 1,000-feet and it ran 4.64. We were trying some different equipment and on the last run they said to take it to the first light at the finish line and we ran 4.55. Tomorrow I think that we'll try some different things with the engine and clutch to make our car better for Indy next weekend."
Schumacher also won at the event in 2000 and trails Kalitta by just four points. He drove his U.S. Army dragster to the second-quickest time of the day, a 4.585 at 269.56. Kalitta piloted his Mac Tools dragster to the fastest speed of the day with a 4.647 pass at 323.89.
Gary Scelzi was quickest in the Funny Car category out of 16 drivers participating in the test. The three-time Top Fuel world champion covered the quarter-mile distance in 4.829 seconds at 324.75 in his Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus. Scelzi, currently third in the point standings behind rookie Robert Hight and teammate Ron Capps, topped friendly rival John Force's effort of 4.830 at 301.27.
"It went horrible on the first run," said Scelzi, who is trying to become the fifth driver to win the historic event in both nitro categories. He won here in Top Fuel in 1998. "There was no rubber on the race track, so finally after everybody was smoking the tires not getting down the track there was enough rubber built up. We went to hit it tonight and still didn't run as good as we wanted to. The track came around and should be good tomorrow. It is nice to come home with the low e.t. of the day. It is good till tomorrow morning anyway. But we are happy.
"We are trying some things but really when you try things it needs to get down the race track to make sure it works."
Two-time and defending NHRA POWERade Pro Stock world champion Greg Anderson posted the best pass in Pro Stock, a 6.742 effort at 204.32 in his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO. Anderson leads the series point standings after 17 events with a 73-point advantage over Kurt Johnson.
Ryan Schnitz, of Decatur, Ind., raced to a 7.194 at 185.51 atop his Team Muzzy Buell for the best run of the day in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
The test session, which is closed to the public, continues Wednesday. Professional qualifying officially opens for the tradition-rich race next Friday (Sept. 2) at 6:15 p.m. There will be five rounds of qualifying (Fri.-Sun.) for the four professional categories with final eliminations set for 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 5. ESPN2 will telecast more than 10 hours of event coverage -- including action from two lucrative bonus events, the Skoal Showdown and Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle.