Tucson Saturday testing notes

TUCSON, Ariz. - Kenny Bernstein made the best pass of the day to lead all Top Fuel competitors Saturday at the pre-season test session at Southwestern International Raceway. NHRA teams are utilizing the test session to prepare for the NHRA...

TUCSON, Ariz. - Kenny Bernstein made the best pass of the day to lead all Top Fuel competitors Saturday at the pre-season test session at Southwestern International Raceway. NHRA teams are utilizing the test session to prepare for the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, which will begin with the 42nd annual K&N Filters Winternationals, Feb. 7-10, at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway, the first of 23 events in the $50 million series.

The defending NHRA Top Fuel champion blasted his Budweiser King dragster down the quarter-mile in 4.603 seconds at 319.37 mph in his final pass of the day. Doug Herbert clocked a 4.677 at 299.33 while Top Fuel rookie Ken Zeal covered the distance in 4.863 at 267.96.

John Force drove his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to the 1,000-foot mark before shutting it off and recorded numbers of 5.140 at 233.44 to set the pace for all Funny Car competitors. Dean Skuza, also shutting down before the finish line, piloted his new Dodge Stratus to a run of 5.236 at 201.37 on his final attempt of the day.

George Marnell was the lone Pro Stock vehicle to attend the test session and clocked a 7.071 at 194.63 in the Marnell Racing Pontiac Grand Am for his best numbers of the day.

Testing continues Sunday at 10 a.m.


11:00 AM Gary Densham is first out for the Pro cars today. Just like Friday, Densham gets to about 150 feet and shakes the tires hard. The first sixty netted him a .888 for his effort.

11:28 AM 'The Champ' is next around the corner of the tower. Force has a soft .904 short time and manages to stay with the loud pedal until just before half track. The eighth mile numbers were 3.419/226.43. Coasting out numbers were 5.719/174.44.

11:50 AM  Tony Pedregon gets to almost
half track before he kicks the tires loose.  .885 sixty foot and 3.376/214.66 at
the eighth.  Pedregon coasted out with a 5.786/167.91.

11:54 AM Dean Skuza makes a sixty smoking footer. .893 was the only valid number for his attempt.

12:07 PM Johnny Gray has raw fuel out of the pipes at the hit and is off the pedal before sixty feet.

12:47 PM  Del Worsham is out for their first hit of the day for the
CSK Red car.  Worsham makes an expensive pass as he blows the burst panel out of
the car just before 330 feet.  The short time was .897 and the 330 was 2.380.

1:31 PM It's Gary Densham turn again in the Mustang. Densham makes it almost to half track before he has his hands full of very loose Pony car. The short numbers were: .891, 2.337, 3.431/208.62 and a finish of 5.966/154.56.

2:27 PM A weather update. The wind is a thing of the past and the temperature is now in the mid 70's. No humidity to speak of and not a cloud to be found. The track has been in direct sunshine since dawn and may be beginning to heat under these conditions.

2:35 PM Tony Pedregon answers the call to 'Fire the next single'. Tony again strikes the tires at around 330: .893, 2.324 at 330.

2:49 PM Dean Skuza brings the 2002 Dodge Stratos out for another attempt. Skuza had some new car problems yesterday and hopes that's behind him. The run says they still have some work as he cards a .894 sixty, followed by smoke.

2:57 PM It's John Force making another appearance. Force again gets to the 330 marker and strikes the tires: .877, 2.312.

3:35 PM Johnny Gray gets a .910 short time but rattles the tires loose before 330.

4:08 PM After a small bit of down time we are back into the Pro session. Del Worsham is out first and appears to be on a good pass until just after half track as the engine goes silent. Numbers: .890, 2.310, 3.353/232.67 and finally 5.687/149.43.

4:28 PM Gary Densham gets to half track before there is a puff of fuel out of the headers and the Mustang goes silent: .894, 2.323, 3.382/213.57. Tony Pedregon is next out of the Force camp. Pedregon cards: .885, 2.315, 3.359/239.10 and finally 5.542/184.57.

5:17 PM John Force will get one more before the day is over. Force gets to the 1000 foot marker before he clicks it off. Numbers: .872, 2.311, 3.344/237.96, 4.252 and 5.140/233.40.

5:32 PM Dean Skuza gets in one more attempt before days end. Skuza makes a 1000 foot pass as planned. The numbers for Skuza: .884, 2.304, 3.302/254.57, 4.223 and finally 5.236/201.37.

5:35 and Johnny Gray presents the car to the starting line. Gray gets another sixty foot squirt and cards a .899.

11:22 AM Doug Herbert makes his morning appearance in the Snap On Top Fueler. .855 is on the screen for the sixty foot number but again shake claims Herbert's run.

11:37 AM John Smith is out in the Fram racer. This is Smith's first pass in a fuel car since the incident last year with Gary Scelzi at Brainerd. The sixty foot shot for Smith nets a .877 and tire smoke.

11:40 AM Ken Zeal makes the burnout in Bill Miller's Top Fuel entry. Again it's sixty and out for Zeal. This time the screen says .904 before the tire smoke sets in.

12:15 PM Kenny Bernstein sets it on kill and clicks off a .842 sixty footer. That actually appeared to be planned.

12:18 PM Clay Millican pulls to the line in the Werner Enterprises Top Fueler. Millican makes the first full pull of the weekend. The numbers looked like this: .875, 2.250, 3.237/252.61, 4.834/285.29.

12:21 PM  Wyatt
Radke makes his first appearance of the weekend.  Radke appeared to toss a belt
after the 330 marker.  Up to that point the numbers were: .878 and 2.231 to 330.

1:27 PM Doug Herbert is back for his second attempt today on the SIR surface. Herbert makes it almost to half track and blows the tires away: .850, 2.208, 3.379/184.57.

2:33 PM The Fram sponsored dragster is back to the starting line and this time it's Rhonda Hartman-Smith at the controls. Rhonda is up in smoke after a .853 short time.

2:42 PM The black and yellow Top Fuel car belonging to Bill Miller, with Ken Zeal at the controls, is next. Zeal becomes the second fuel driver to complete a full pass. The car was getting close to the center line as he neared the finish but it was still a nice run. It looked like this: .899, 2.289, 3.260/257.87, 4.091 and finally 4.863/267.96.

3:00 PM and the Budweiser King fires it up. Bernstein has yet another sixty foot smoker: .858 60'.

3:20 PM Millican doesn't make it this time as the car was dropping cylinders before 330 and he clicked it off.

3:28 PM and Doug Herbert appears again. Herbert launches hard with a .853 short time but at 330 there was a big flash and it appears to be a torched head gasket.

4:35 PM Gene Davis makes his first of the weekend. The clutch is way to loose and he records a 1.221 sixty foot number with the rest getting even worse. He shut the car off after half track.

5:02 PM The King of Speed makes another shot. Bernstein rocks Tucson with low ET and Top Speed. .852, 2.176, 3.117/267.59, 3.913 and finally 4.603/319.37.

4:21 PM Doug Herbert also gets in an 1100 footer: .852, 2.176, 3.146/263.87, 3.961 and 4.677/299.33. 5:25 Ken Zeal records a .906 sixty and is up in smoke within just a few feet after that.

5:28 PM Clay Millican launches to a .873 short time but has sparklers out of the headers and clicks it off at around 330.

6:05 PM Rhonda Hartman-Smith will be the final Pro car down the track for today. Smith cards a .873 short number and clicks it off.

12:40 PM George Marnell is the only Pro Stocker here this weekend and he makes his third pass. It nets him a 7.115/194.02. 3200 feet is tough on the Pro Stock folks.

Marnell is back at 3:10 PM for another shot. This time it's a: 1.031, the eighth was 4.539/153.98 and a final of 7.071/194.63.

4:54 PM and the lone Pro Stocker is back. Marnell records another 7.07.

*Run-by-run summary provided by FastNews Network


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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Clay Millican , Kenny Bernstein , Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , John Force , Rhonda Hartman-Smith , Gary Scelzi , Gary Densham , George Marnell , Johnny Gray