INDIANAPOLIS, IN – August 25, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Tommy Johnson Jr. posted the quickest time in Funny Car Thursday at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis during the final day of testing for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series drivers took part in two-day test in preparation for the world’s most prestigious drag race, held Aug. 31-Sept. 5, at the famed NHRA-owned multi-purpose motorsports facility just west of downtown Indianapolis. The event, which will also feature the lucrative Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel and Funny Car, is the final race in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season and will be televised by FOX and FOX Sports 1 with expanded coverage during Labor Day weekend.
Tickets for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals are available by calling 800-884-NHRA (6472) or logging on to www.NHRA.com/tickets.
Johnson Jr., who finished third in the championship points for the second consecutive year in 2015, posted the quickest Funny Car pass of the session when he piloted his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T down the track in 3.896 seconds at 318.84 mph. The time is quicker than the current Lucas Oil Raceway elapsed time track record of 3.936 seconds held by Jack Beckman. On Wednesday, Johnson Jr.’s time and speed bettered both ends of the track records.
“Coming out here and doing two days of testing gives you a feel for the track, the conditions and just getting familiar with the track,” Johnson Jr. said. “I think it gives you an advantage coming into Q1 Friday night in front of the big crowd. You have a little more confidence and you have a good idea of what you need to do to make [the car] run well.”
Courtney Force improved on her time yesterday with a 3.899 at 325.69 in her Traxxas Chevy Camaro. Courtney is currently second in points behind Ron Capps who is not testing this weekend. She is looking for her first Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals win and would join her father John who has won the event four times and her sister Ashely who has won it twice.
“Coming off of our performance in Brainerd, going to the semis, the Chevy Camaro was doing great so there wasn’t really a ton we wanted to change,” C. Force said. “We actually brought out our spare car and have been testing a lot things with that. Got the spare car running good and it’s right there with the car that I’m currently running. We tried a bunch of different things and learned from it.
“To be honest, we are really excited. We brought the spare car out because we want to be able to have a back-up car that’s ready to go and can be in contention if we need it for the Countdown to the Championship. Just trying to look ahead and really excited with what we’ve seen.”
The 2009 Funny Car world champion, Robert Hight, improved on his Wednesday test session with a time of 3.929 at 327.66 for the third best time in his Auto Club Chevy Camaro on Thursday. His speed is unofficially better than the track record of 323.74 held by Beckman. Hight was runner-up in last year’s Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals for the second consecutive year and has won the race three times, most recently in 2013.
Reigning Funny Car World Champion Del Worsham ran the fourth best time in his Kalitta Racing teammate Alexis DeJoria’s Patron Tequila Toyota Camry. Worsham put up a 4.652 at 178.33. The U.S. Nationals is schedule to be DeJoria’s return from an injury she suffered in Sonoma.
World Record holder in both time and speed, Matt Hagan, had the fifth best time at Thursday’s test session. Hagan powered his Mopar / Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T to a 6.252 at 111. 57. Hagan has yet to make a finals appearance at the U.S. Nationals but has been the No. 1 qualifier three times.
Sixteen-time world champion John Force had the sixth best time with a pass of 8.137 at 89.26 in his Peak Antifreeze Chevy Camaro. The seventh best time went defending Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals and NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout winner Beckman with an 8.476 at 81.97.
“A lot of teams are out here practicing more than testing, in other words they are sticking with their combinations and are fine tuning it,” Beckman said. “We chose to treat it like a true test session we made some changes in the bell housing with the clutch levers with clutch discs. As you progress through the season you will run out of batches of clutch discs and you hope that it is a seamless transition to the next one. Testing is what usually helps you get that way and that is what we used it for.”
Chad Head was eighth in his Head Racing Toyota Camry with a 10.280 run at 61.50. Head is still battling to earn his spot into the Countdown and will be battling against DeJoria, and Cruz Pedregon for the final Funny Car spot.
Top Fuel teams also tested their 10,000 horsepower dragsters for a second time on at Lucas Oil Raceway. Richie Crampton continues to lead the pack with a 3.676 at 323.58 in his Lucas Oil dragster. Doug Kalitta was second quickest with a 3.686 at 328.86 in his Mac Tools dragster and was followed by nine-time U.S. Nationals winner Tony Schumacher who had a 3.717 at 299.40 in his U.S. Army dragster.
The first of five Mello Yello Series qualifying sessions at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2. Two more sessions will take to the track on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 2:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m., and the final two qualifying sessions will take place on Sunday, Sept. 4 at 11:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 5. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel will be contested Saturday, Sept. 3 with rounds at 4 p.m., 5:15 p.m. and 8 p.m. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car takes place on Sunday, Sept. 4 for the eight qualified drivers, with rounds at 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:45 p.m.
Below is a listing of each Top Fuel and Funny Car competitor’s best performance from Thursday’s testing:
1. Tommy Johnson Jr. 3.896, 318.84
2. Courtney Force 3.899, 325.69
3. Robert Hight 3.929, 327.66
4. Del Worsham 4.652 178.33 (In Tequila Patron Car)
5. Matt Hagan 6.252, 111.57
6. John Force 8.137, 89.26
7. Jack Beckman 8.476, 81.97
8. Chad Head 10.280, 61.50
1. Richie Crampton 3.676, 323.58
2. Doug Kalitta 3.686, 328.86
3. Tony Schumacher 3.717, 299.40
4. Shawn Langdon 3.743, 324.51
5. JR Todd 3.810, 269.46
6. Leah Pritchett 3.811, 263.67
7. Antron Brown 3.745, 317.42
8. Tripp Tatum 3.988, 241.80
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 23 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association