SCHUMACHER, FORCE HOOD ARE LEADERS IN MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS TESTING AT O'REILLY RACEWAY PARK AT INDIANAPOLIS CLERMONT, Ind. -- Tony Schumacher and Ashley Force Hood were the quickest in their respective categories during testing Wednesday...
SCHUMACHER, FORCE HOOD ARE LEADERS IN MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS TESTING AT O'REILLY RACEWAY PARK AT INDIANAPOLIS
CLERMONT, Ind. -- Tony Schumacher and Ashley Force Hood were the quickest in their respective categories during testing Wednesday at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis.
NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car teams utilized the test session in preparation for the 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, the world's most prestigious drag race. The tradition-rich race, which will be held Sept. 2-7 and will be showcased during more than 10 hours of coverage on ESPN2 HD, is the final regular season race in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series before the top 10 fields in each pro category are set for NHRA's six-race championship playoff, the Countdown to 1.
Schumacher powered his U.S. Army dragster to the quickest time in Top Fuel with a 3.833 second effort. Schumacher, who will be trying to tie drag racing legend "Big Daddy" Don Garlits as the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals all-time Top Fuel wins leader next weekend, feels confident about his chances at the historic track. Schumacher has seven Mac Tools U.S. Nationals victories, including the last three.
"I was real pleased; I think we ran great," said Schumacher, who has three victories this season and is third in the points order behind Antron Brown and Larry Dixon, who didn't participate in the test. "Not only did the car go fast, but we were fast early, fast late and we learned a lot in the middle of the test session and just felt comfortable. I drove the car good. My lights were good and we did everything we wanted to try. We had made some pretty drastic changes in the fuel system and everything worked out great. Our 60-foot (times) were .830s and we ran good every run. The car smoked the tires a few times, but the way we look at it we have been way too conservative and if we're not smoking the tires, were not learning. Our goal was to make it go out and smoke the tires, and we did that."
Veteran Cory McClenathan, a two-time winner at Indy, was second overall with a 3.841 in his FRAM Tough Guard dragster, while Brainerd winner Morgan Lucas was third in his GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil dragster with a 3.865. Rookie Spencer Massey was fourth in his U.S. Smokeless dragster with a 3.879.
Clay Millican and Joe Hartley, who are in a tight battle for 10th place in the point standings to earn a starting spot in the playoffs, participated in the test. Millican posted a 3.886 in his LifeLockracing.com dragster, while Hartley was eighth in his family-owned dragster with a best of 3.936. Only three points separate the two drivers.
In Funny Car, Force Hood had the quickest time of the day in her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, covering the distance in 4.157 seconds. She is currently third in the point standings behind series leader Tony Pedregon and second place driver Ron Capps.
"Our entire team feels great that we were able to get some laps on this new Mustang," Force Hood said. "I wasn't too fond of the car after changing to it for one round in Reading, but feel 100 percent more comfortable after testing. It's great to go into an event, especially the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, after such a positive test day. I think the most important thing is the quality of runs we had with the new car, I know we feel a little more prepared and confident going into the weekend."
Her teammate Robert Hight, the defending U.S. Nationals winner who is in a tight battle with Cruz Pedregon and Matt Hagan for the 10th spot in the Countdown to 1, was second in his Auto Club Ford Mustang, that is now being tuned by longtime John Force crew chiefs Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly. Hight is currently in 12th place in points, 38 behind 10th place Pedregon, a three-time Indy winner. Hight said he is pleased with his team's effort for the day.
"Today's test session has gone really good and you know it was kinda relaxed," said Hight, who posted a best for the day of 4.170 seconds. "If we can go into the race weekend with the same attitude we had today, I think we will be better off. It is easier said than done, but that is the goal. Today has been a perfect success of testing and couldn't have gone better. So if we can just have some fun, I think our outlook is going to be better."
Mike Neff was third in the Drive One Mustang with a best of 4.175, while five-time season winner Capps was third in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger with a 4.205. Last year's runner-up Jack Beckman was seventh in his MTS/Valvoline Charger, posting a 4.262.
The following includes the best time for each driver who participated in the test:
1. Tony Schumacher, 3.833
2. Cory McClenathan, 3.841
3. Morgan Lucas, 3.865
4. Spencer Massey, 3.879
5. Brandon Bernstein, 3.882
6. Clay Millican, 3.886
7. Shawn Langdon, 3.898
8. Joe Hartley, 3.936
9. Doug Kalitta, 3.968
10. Ron August Jr., 4.120.
1. Ashley Force Hood, Ford Mustang, 4.157
2. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.170
3. Mike Neff, Mustang, 4.175
4. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.205
5. Brian Thiel, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.243
6. Jim Head, Toyota Camry, 4.249
7. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.262
8. Jeff Arend, Camry, 4.319
9. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.341
10. Del Worsham, Toyota Solara, 4.379
11. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 7.555
12. Matt Hagan, Charger, 7.884.
SCHEDULE: The first of five pro qualifying sessions is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 4. Qualifying continues at noon and 5:45 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5 and concludes at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 6. Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle eliminations are at 1:15 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7:40 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 7.
TICKETS: Tickets are available for the 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil by calling (800) 884-NHRA, or via the Web at www.ticketmaster.com.
ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise more than 10 hours of coverage of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil beginning with a two hour and 30 minute qualifying show on Sunday, Sept. 6 at 11:30 a.m. (ET). A two-hour qualifying show will air later that day on ESPN2 HD at 5 p.m. (ET). On Monday, Sept. 7, ESPN2 HD will televise a one-hour NHRA Race Day from the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals preview show at noon (ET), followed by a five-hour eliminations show starting at 1 p.m. (ET).
ON THE WEB: For complete online coverage of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, please visit www.nhra.com.