VOLUME XX,  NUMBER 2 - FEBRUARY,  2018

FEATURES

NHRA Testing at Phoenix, Arizona

A Final Workout

 

Photos by Ron Lewis

Several teams spent a few days getting ready for the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season by testing at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix, AZ.

 

THURSDAY

Three-time Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown led the pack at the NHRA Nitro Spring Training on Thursday, Feb. 1, at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park located outside of Phoenix.

 

Brown piloted his Matco Dragster to a pass of 3.714 seconds at 328.46 mph to send him to the top of leader board. He was followed by teammate Tony Schumacher in his U.S. Army dragster with his pass of 3.717 at 330.15. Brown won four events in 2017 and is looking wins during the coming season.

 

“We are getting seasoned in with our two new guys on our team and with crew chiefs Mark (Oswald) and Brad (Mason) at the helm,” Brown said. “It just feels good to be back in the swing of things. We are getting back and getting better and we will see what tomorrow brings, but right now I like the direction we are going.”

Steve Torrence finished second in the 2017 points and is hungry for a different outcome for the 2018 season. During the course of the busy day, he took laps in his Capco Contractor / Torrence Racing dragster (above) and a dragster driven by his father Billy (below) who races at select events.

“We had a really good car the whole time last year but struggled after the wreck at Dallas,” Torrence stated. “We were able to spend the off season getting things addressed and go over everything with a fine-tooth comb. We’re coming here to try a couple of things but won’t deviate too much from our tune-up.”

Matt Hagan leads the Funny Car class with a pass of 3.879 at 330.72 in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T. After finishing the 2017 season fifth in points, the two-time Funny Car world champion is looking to kick-off the 2018 season strong. Current Funny Car world champion Robert Hight is right behind Hagan with a run of 3.880 at 324.05 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car.

Alex Laughlin has a new sponsor this season.

 

In Pro Stock, Erica Enders drove her Melling Performance / Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro to a 6.555 run at 210.28 and teammate Alex Laughlin tested his Gas Monkey Energy Chevrolet Camaro to a pass of 6.580 at 209.10.

 

FRIDAY

Courtney Force powered to the top of the Funny Car class at the Friday, Feb. 2, NHRA Nitro Spring Training at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

 

Force drove her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS to a pass of 3.839-seconds at 329.99 mph. She is seeking to capitalize on her career-best seven No. 1 qualifiers last season.

Two-time world champion Matt Hagan made a pass of 3.851 at 330.72 in his Mopar Express Dodge Charger R/T and teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. (shown) ran a 3.884 at 326.16.

 

“This is a new chassis we’re out here running,” Force said. “This team has been doing an amazing job. We’ve got a couple new guys with Brian Corradi and Dan Hood tuning it. We’ve been taking it slow, but we’re going to see if we can get our car running the same kind of numbers.”

Shawn Langdon is brand new to the Funny Car class in his Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry and ran it to a 3.911 at 324.05. He got his license in October of 2017 and is already showing to be competitive with the veterans.

 

“It’s been a big transition for me,” Langdon said. “Everything I learned driving a Top Fuel dragster I take about 50-percent of that and throw it out the window. I’m excited for the challenge. I haven’t hit anything yet so that’s a positive.”

Doug Kalitta leads the Top Fuel class with a pass of 3.688 at 331.12 in his Mac Tools dragster. Finishing the 2017 season third overall in points, Kalitta is preparing for an even better 2018.

Current Top Fuel world champion Brittany Force is second with a pass of 3.699 at 323.35.

 

In Pro Stock, Alex Laughlin drove his Chevrolet Camaro to a pass of 6.484 at 210.11 and teammate Erica Enders ran a 6.563 at 208.30 in her Melling Performance / Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.

 

SATURDAY

Leah Pritchett unofficially became the fastest Top Fuel pilot in history during NHRA Nitro Spring Training at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park on Saturday.

 

Pritchett piloted her Mopar/Papa John’s dragster to a pass of 3.664-seconds at 334.73 mph. Last season, she set both ends of the track record at the NHRA Arizona Nationals and is seeking to reset it again in a couple of weeks.

 

“We struggled a little bit when we first came out of the box,” Pritchett said. “It took us all the way to the fourth day to get to the finish line and put down that pass. What was crazy about that run was how smooth it was. It was awesome. I was smiling ear to ear.”

 

Current Top Fuel world champion Brittany Force ran the second quickest pass of the day with a 3.692 at 327.43 in her Monster Energy dragster.

Mike Salinas rounds out the top three with a pass of 3.733 at 325.53.

 

Matt Hagan led the Funny Car class with a pass of 3.843 at 332.84 in his Mopar Express Dodge Charger R/T. Current Funny Car world champion Robert Hight ran a pass of 3.880 at 332.02 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS.

 

In Pro Stock, Erica Enders ran a 6.572 at 208.97 in her Melling Performance / Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. Greg Anderson wheeled t a pass of 6.595 at 209.20 in his Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro.

“We’re very happy with how testing went. We came out here and made ten passes and pretty much accomplished what we wanted to, especially on that last run,” John Force said. “It was a pretty successful test session. It’s not just about getting the car down the track and making those runs but I’ve been out of the seat, the whole team has been away from the race track, so it really was also pulling together and finding our routine again and getting us ready to jump right into Pomona.” 

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