Tucson Friday testing notes

TUCSON, Ariz. - Defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Kenny Bernstein had the quickest 60-foot elapsed time Friday during pre-season testing at Southwestern International Raceway. NHRA teams are utilizing the three-day test to prepare for the 41st...

TUCSON, Ariz. - Defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Kenny Bernstein had the quickest 60-foot elapsed time Friday during pre-season testing at Southwestern International Raceway. NHRA teams are utilizing the three-day test to prepare for the 41st annual K&N Filters Winternationals at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway, the first of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Bernstein recorded a .862-second mark before shutting his Budweiser King dragster off during his only pass of the day. Racing was limited for professional competitors due to high winds at the quarter-mile desert facility. Doug Herbert (.866), Rhonda Hartman-Smith (.871) and Clay Millican (.894) also clocked impressive 60-foot times.

Defending champion John Force had the best 60-foot time among Funny Car competitors. He clocked a .881 in his lone pass of the day as he begins his quest for a 12th championship. Johnny Gray had the second-quickest Funny Car, hitting the desired shut-off spot in .930 while Dean Skuza debuted his new Dodge Stratus body and hit the 60-foot point in .941.

George Marnell was the lone Pro Stock competitor at the test session and made the only complete passes down the track. Marnell made two runs down the quarter-mile and recorded times of 7.054 and 7.070 respectively.

Testing continues Saturday at 10 a.m.


12:05 PM Tony Pedregon brings the Mustang to the line sporting one of Forces white 10X bodies. Pedregon basically duplicates Force's squirt as the screen shows an .884 sixty foot number and he shuts off before the 330 cone with a very loose racecar.

1:30 PM Grant Downing, from Paralax Race Cars, is getting suited up for what he hopes will be the pass that nets him his Funnycar license. He has one full pass to complete to get his ticket. Not this time. After the burnout Downing backed to the line and the crew gave him the kill sign. He was pushed backwards and there was a small trail of fluid leading all the way back to the staging lanes. Oops. I heard later that oil was bubbling up between the diaper and the pan.

3:41 PM Dean Skuza debuts his Mopar racer this weekend and it's really nice looking. Another shutoff, this time it's before the burnout. Everyone gathers around to take a look but the crowd doesn't seem to be much help. The body pole goes in and the car is pushed back into the staging lanes.

4:17 PM Whatever the problem with Skuza's car they must have gotten it fixed as he's back and the car sounds very healthy. After the burnout it's the same thing again. The rpm goes up and the car is shutoff. Try again later?

4:23 PM Force is back for another attempt. Another run up in smoke before 330. This time Force has a .872 to show for his effort.

4:30 PM Gary Densham is the next contestant to attempt sorting out the SIR surface. Densham gets past the 330 marker then it's up in smoke. His run was soft at sixty, .902 and the 330 number was a 2.360. 4:50 PM Johnny Gray is out in his new CSK ride for his first attempt. Still windy and getting cooler by the moment. Last night the temperature was down into the 20's. Not a real sharp attempt as there was raw fuel out of the pipes at the hit. After a .930 sixty Grey decides to save the parts.

5:00 PM Skuza is back for another attempt. All that for a .941 sixty and a quick flip of the mag switch. New cars can be tough critters to sort out!

5:42 PM  Grant Downing is back for his
licensing attempt.  The Worshams have this thing sounding just like the CSK Blue
car.  Instant tire smoke and no license today.

Doug Herbert is in the lanes and will become the first Top Fuel Car to test the SIR surface. Herbert makes a sixty footer and nets a .866 ET.

3:22 PM Clay Millican launches fairly soft with a .894 short time. He was getting very close to the center line by 660 but still records a 3.340 on the time slip.

3:37 PM Kenny Bernstein comes around the corner of the tower for his first of the weekend. Another sixty foot shot and the screen says .862.

5:30 PM Rhonda Hartman-Smith brings the Fram Top Fueler to life for pass number one. Smith gets just past the sixty foot clock rattles the tires loose. .871 to sixty feet.

1:15 PM George Marnell makes his first run of the weekend. Marnell cards a 1.029 sixty foot number and is very loose before 330.

3:14 PM Marnell is back for his second run of the day. For the first time we have a full pass. Marnell turns a 1.032 into a 7.054/194.72. Not bad for 3200 feet of altitude.

5:16 PM and the lone Pro Stocker returns. Marnell cards a 7.070/194.74.

*Run-by-run summary provided by FastNews Network.


Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Clay Millican , Kenny Bernstein , Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , John Force , Rhonda Hartman-Smith , Gary Densham , George Marnell , Johnny Gray , Grant Downing