Brandon Bernstein and John Force led the way on a busier second day at the 2010 NAPA Auto Parts National Time Trials at Firebird Int’l Raceway in Phoenix. Sporting his new Copart blue colors, Bernstein powered to a 3.873 to lead the Top Fuel contingent, while Force bettered the 4.11s posted by his team cars Saturday with a 4.109 to lead the floppers.
Warmer temperatures, cloudless skies, and no wind created better conditions for the teams who made the trek to the desert for the annual preseason test fest, and the racers took advantage with all teams making multiple runs during the day. Though the full pulls were still rare as teams tested the limits on their tune-ups, there were moments of great 1,000-foot passes as well as some not planned moments that were definitely highlight-reel worthy.
Three Top Fuel teams made attempts during Sunday’s activities, and Bernstein was far and away the best of the trio with his 3.873-second, 316.08-mph run. Doug Foley, testing the new Dote Family Racing dragster, also posted a nice 3.943 on a run where he clicked it off early.
Troy Buff, the final Top Fuel driver on site, had a tough Sunday with two burst-panel-popping runs, including one precipitated by a fuel line breaking prior to the hit that resulted in a spectacular fire when he mashed the throttle.
In the Funny Car ranks, Force was definitely the shining star Sunday, piloting his new-look Castrol 25th Anniversary Mustang, to back-to-back runs of 4.11 and 4.10. Force’s other team cars struggled a bit during the day with Robert Hight posting a best of 4.406 and Ashley Force Hood recording a 6.816 best.
After sitting out Saturday, Tim Wilkerson hit the track Sunday with the NHRA spec motor under the hood of his Levi, Ray & Shoup Mustang to continue testing in conjunction with NHRA. His runs got progressively longer and better as the day went on with a best of 4.178 at day’s end.
Bob Tasca III also made a near-full pass, piloting his Quick Lane-backed ride to a 4.188 on a run when his engine let go just before the finish line. Cruz Pedregon also hit the track multiple times, clocking a best of 4.533 with his new Snap-on-adorned flopper.
Though the National Time Trials officially ended Sunday, most teams have elected to stay and continue testing in the coming days.
The ticket renewal deadline on February 12, 2010 for the 25th Anniversary O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals is fast approaching and is now only 23 days away. Renewing your tickets is the best way to ensure that you keep the same great seats that you had in 2009 for this years 25th Anniversary event, also by renewing your ticket order you will receive a special thank you gift, the book Faith, Family & Fortune authored by Paul J . Meyer.
Dick Wells, the first editor of National DRAGSTER and a longtime member of the NHRA board of directors, died late Monday night from complications after heart surgery last November. He was 75.
A member of both the NHRA board of directors and the NHRA Wally Parks Motorsports Museum presented by Automobile Club of Southern California board of directors, SEMA Industry Hall of Famer Wells began his long and storied career in motorsports as National DRAGSTER’s first editor in 1960.
“Dick loved the NHRA and everything about drag racing and the world of performance,” said Dallas Gardner, NHRA chairman of the board. “His passion led him to a lifetime of contribution that, simply put, made things better. His efforts and influence touched everyone. He was a great part of the leadership that saw the sport grow to what it has become today. We will miss him for his participation, but we will miss him more as a friend.”
As the original editor of National DRAGSTER, Wells laid the foundation for what would become drag racing’s most famous publication. He joined the NHRA board of directors in 1979 and was an important force behind the scenes since.
“NHRA lost one of its most loyal and trusted advisors and friends in Dick Wells,” said Tom Compton, president, NHRA. “He was an integral part of NHRA in the early days and has been a guiding force for NHRA ever since. Dick loved NHRA and was an ambassador like no other for the sport. On behalf of his NHRA family, we send our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. He will be greatly missed.”
(Above) As the first editor of National DRAGSTER, Wells, right, helped launch drag racing’s most famous and longest-running publication. (Below) Wells was a longtime friend and confidant to NHRA founder Wally Parks.
After his tenure at National DRAGSTER, the hot-rodder from Lincoln, Neb., later moved to editorial positions at Hot Rod and earned the title of executive editor at Motor Trend. As Petersen Publishing Co.’s director of special events, Wells produced what many believe to be his greatest contribution to the automotive industry: the first SEMA Show in 1967 at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles.
Wells, who also began the Street Rod Nationals and was the first active president of the National Street Rod Association, is credited with the massive street rod movement in the U.S. In 2007, he retired from the position of vice president of corporate projects at SEMA, where he also served as executive director in the 1970s.
He was honored many times for contributions to the automotive industry. He was named SEMA Person of the Year in 1977 and was inducted into the SEMA Industry Hall of Fame in 1993. He was presented the International Specialty Car Association (ISCA) Founder’s Award in 1994, the Street Rod Marketing Alliance Industry Recognition Award in 1996, and was among those honored with the NHRA Pioneers Award in 2001. Last year, he was inducted into the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame.
Jupiter, Fla. (January 13, 2010) – Palm Beach International Raceway has seen some stellar times posted as the NHRA teams are at the facility testing for the upcoming 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Ideal weather conditions and a smooth concrete surface are definitely benefitting the teams as they perfect their tune-ups.
Testing has shown that the season long rivalry between Al-Anabi Racing and Don Schumacher Racing last year is still alive and well. Yesterday the Al-Anabi Top Fuel car of Larry Dixon posted a 3.767 ET (elapsed time) at 322 mph. Early in the test season on Wednesday, Larry Dixon posted another stellar run with a 3.763 ET. Tony Schumacher bested him early Wednesday with a 3.759 ET at 318 mph. He followed that up later in the day with a 3.753 ET at 322.88 mph.
A few of the drivers discussed the off season, the test at PBIR and their expectations for the 2010 season.
Tony Schumacher, driver of the Don Schumacher Racing U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
On the test session at PBIR: “It’s great. It’s way better than what we normally get. Generally speaking when we show up at Phoenix we’ve got to run side by side with other cars and we only get to run when they want us to run, and we’re testing, that’s not how we want to do it. We come down to a place like this, it’s an amazing facility. It’s just as nice as any of the other tracks that we race on and we get to fast.
Expectations for the 2010 season: “There will be good battles. There’s about 10 good cars out there that are going to battle every weekend. It’s what you show up for. No one out here is showing up for an easy battle, we’re all showing up to dig deep and to battle it out.”
Morgan Lucas, driver of the Morgan Lucas Racing Geico Powersports Top Fuel Dragster
On the test session at PBIR: “Now that we’re into our second day of testing I’m really, really impressed with the facility here. The security and personnel here are very nice, the surface of the track is very smooth and it’s got a lot of grip. We’re running as good of times that we ran at any point last year and it gives you a lot of confidence going into the season. It’s nice to go somewhere where you can trust what you’re going to have and know that you’re going to learn something and address it. You never want to go into a race season, especially one 23 races long with your tail between your legs wondering what’s really going to happen when you get there.”
Expectations for 2010: “Our main goals are just to go out and minimize first round losses. That’s what we did last year and we ended up winning a few races out of that. You have to put yourself in a position to win and we’re going to have to pick up our performance a little bit to keep up with the Schumacher’s and the Alan Johnson cars, they’re running over 320 mph right now at 1,000 ft. and that’s very impressive. That’s something we’re trying to pick up on and get that extra ET out of these cars. Getting these cars on the track, being more consistent and not making mistakes to beat ourselves, that’s really what we’re looking at. Hopefully we can go out there and finish top 5 this year and chase the championship and put ourselves in those good spots, that’s what we’re all about.”
Cory McClenathan, driver of the Don Schumacher Racing FRAM Top Fuel Dragster
On the test session at PBIR: “We’re really happy. We knew last year after we came to PBIR that we were not going to go to Phoenix or Vegas, we were just going to come here and wrap it all up in a weeks’ time. We made sure that Alan Johnson and all of the other teams, and everyone at DSR, really wanted to do this. We knew that in a years time the track would be that much better, and we’ve definitely proved that. We’ve ran a 3.77 ET now at 321 mph, it’s just right off the tick at being record runs. So we know that this is what we’re looking for. I think we’ll be very comfortable testing through Thursday and be able to leave here and go to Pomona and go racing.”
Expectations for 2010: “The only thing I want to do is finish three spots better than I did last year. That would be the key thing. It’s one thing that NHRA has done, the point system, and what happens there has really changed things. It’s made it a real driver’s game and it’s made it good for the fans. To go into Pomona and know that you have a shot at the championship and end up fourth was a little bit alarming for me. But if you don’t have that shot at it, where’s all the drama at? I want to see it where we are and it’s exciting that way. We’re back with a fresh paint job and a whole new attitude and we’re looking forward to it.”
Ron Capps, driver of the Don Schumacher Racing NAPA Auto Parts Funny Car
On testing at PBIR: “It’s going great. Last year was our first time here at PBIR and we enjoyed it so much. We had such a good time last year and the people were so good to us at the track that we would rather just spend our whole time down here getting ready for Pomona and that way the guys have time to go back to Indianapolis and get everything ready and then take the trucks and go to Pomona. Last year we were low ET for most of the test session, we’d just love to have a race here. I just ran a 4.10 ET and I shut it off early and it was on a good run. The track is great, the people are great and the best part about it is the group of cars that are here. It’s a small enough group that you’re not waiting long to run and it’s all teams that you don’t have to worry about strange things happening to the surface of the track. All in all it’s been great, you look around the pit area and everyone’s smiling.”
Expectations for 2010: “Last year when we left here I was pretty confident. We went to Pomona and we won, went to Phoenix and we won, and I feel the same way right now. (Crew chief) Ed McCulloch is the best. He’s got his game face on already and we just got here. He’s relaxed and he’s excited about pushing the limits on our car and the NAPA guys have two brand new cars ready to run.
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