Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Sunday Notebook

On Wednesday, NHRA pros combined to make nearly 100 runs down Lucas Oil Raceway as part of a two-day test ahead of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. After a marathon 11-hour day, the quickest time slips went to Tony Schumacher (3.702) and Matt Hagan (3.861) in Top Fuel and Funny Car, respectively.

Wednesday’s test was restricted to just the left lane for nitro cars with the right lane being set up for quarter-mile runs by a handful of Pro Mod, Alcohol, and Pro Stock Motorcycle teams that were on hand. Today, both lanes will be in the 1,000-foot configuration and it’s entirely possible we’ll have some side-by-side runs. Unless they choose to go elsewhere, this test will serve as the final preparation for teams ahead of the sport’s marquee event next weekend.

Here’s a chronological look at some of the day’s most notable action, which will be updated throughout the day.

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Tony Schumacher

For the second-straight day, Schumacher is the first driver down the freshly-prepped left lane at Indy and the Army team is quite happy after a strong 3.702, 332.10 effort.

Jonnie Lindberg

The Head car has been very consistent and Lindberg puts another three-second run on the board with a 3.957 at just 284.33 mph

Jack Beckman

"Fast Jack" rocks Lucas Oil Raceway with a 3.827, 337.02. the best Funny Car run of the test so far. For the record, the existing track speed record at Indy is 333.80 mph by Beckman last year.

Brittany Force

Right behind Beckman’s 3.827 run, everyone is expecting a big number from the Monster car but Brittany smokes the tires as soon as she hits the throttle.

John Force

Force is on a solid run but there’s a puff of smoke from the headers at half-track. He runs a respectable 3.868, 292.14, but the NHRA Safety Safari crew is called into action to clean up the left lane.

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Antron Brown

The Matco team makes it look so easy. The roll out their 3.7-second bracket car with a 3.722, 330.72 run. The Top Fuel speed record at Indy is 328.54 so that is almost sure to get crushed next week.

J.R. Todd

Probably not exactly what the DHL team was looking for, but a 3.956, 297.02 probably gave them the data they need to make improvements.

Tommy Johnson Jr.

Johnson noted yesterday that the team had a lot of parts and pieces to test. This run produces a solid 3.930, 329.33

Cruz Pedregon

Cruz did not test yesterday so this is his first shot at Lucas Oil Raceway. He does not have the same data that other teams have so it’s not a big surprise that he smokes the tires quickly.

Robert Hight

Hight continues to put run on his new car and continues to make competitive passes. This one is a 3.842, 330.88, both numbers better than the current track records.

Billy Torrence

Torrence drags the parachute from half-track on which helps explain why his 3.870, 292.33 is off the pace. 

Alexis DeJoria

Fresh off her Brainerd win, Alexis arrives in Indy to make a few runs in her Tequila Patron Toyota. Her first pass is an early shutoff which results in a 4.264, 214.25.

Ron Capps

After a full day of testing yesterday, the DSR teams have clearly figured out the track here. Capps posts another strong run with a 3.861, 330.72.

Ashley Sanford

Sanford will be making her professional debut next weekend and naturally, she wanted to make a couple of runs before entering the biggest event of the season. Sanford was impressive during her licensing runs earlier this year and she’s solid again with a 3.842, 302.48 in the Lagana family’s Nitro Ninja dragster.

Troy Coughlin Jr.TJ-Thursday.jpg

It’s been a frustrating season for rookie Coughlin and his struggles continue with an early-shutoff 3.964 at just 232.91 mph.

Courtney Force

Early tire shake and smoke for the Advance Auto Parts team.

Schumacher

The second run of the day for Schumacher and it’s a 3.849 at 249.07. The Army team has shown a willingness to be first-out this week and this is no exception since Schumacher is the first nitro driver to tackle the right lane during the test.

Lindberg

Lindberg also tries out the right lane and powers to a 3.933, 296.63. Historically, team owner Jim Head has not been big on testing but he’s relishing the opportunity to experiment in a non-competitive environment.

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B. Force

Whatever the Monster team is trying, it’s not working. For the second straight run, they blow the tires away at the hit of the throttle.

Johnson

Consistent. T.J. backs up his earlier 3.930 with a 3.955 in the Make-A-Wish car

Pedregon

Tire smoke early for the Cruzer. Missing yesterday’s test has likely left the Snap-on team a bit behind their rivals.

DeJoria

Very impressive with a 3.946 at just 286.13 mph. It does appear that the Patron team has found their mojo again.

Beckman

Tire shake early in the run. A quick shutoff

J. Force

Instant tire smoke. Makes one wonder just how far out in left field crew chiefs are willing to go today.

Brown

The most consistent car in the test has its first hiccup with an early shut off 6.15.

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C. Force

Very solid run for the Advance car with a 3.868, 332.18 and it appears she may have shut off slightly before the finish line.

Coughlin

Wheels up on the launch but an early shut-off 4.18. This is however, a very clean and straight run.

Hight

At this point, he’s just showing off. A 3.854, 330.96 and remember, this is a brand new car

B. Force

Tire smoke at the hit. This one is over early.

Torrence

The scoreboard reads 3.975, but the bigger talk is the loud concussion that rings through the nearly-empty pits. The Capco team appears to have banged a supercharger or at the very least, taken out a burst panel.

Todd

Clean and solid, a 3.973, 294.11 early shut off run

Capps

Not spectacular, but also not embarrassing. Who would have ever thought we’d describe a 3.896, 326.95 pass in those terms?

Pedregon

Pedregon goes a bit further this time but the car still smokes the tires about 100-feet out.

Newby

The Rapisarda team is reportedly making their first runs with a six-disc clutch set-up. The car smokes the tires immediately.

Brown

The worlds’ quickest bracket car lays down another solid 3.761, 327.90 in the heat of the day.

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J. Force

A bit overly aggressive, the Peak Chevy launches hard, but unloads the tires just past the Christmas Tree.

Dickie Venables

You see some strange things at test sessions but how about a street-legal Cadillac STS running a 10.02 at 136.94 mph? The car reportedly belongs to Matt Hagan’s crew chief, Dickie Venables. Since Hagan completed his testing yesterday, Venables apparently decided to have some fun with his quick Caddy.

Schumacher

Tire smoke early and the Army dragster coasts across the finish line

DeJoria

Making up for missing yesterday’s runs, DeJoria is once again solid with a 3.976, 282.95.

C. Force

Force shuts off early again, but the scoreboard shows a very respectable 3.943, 292.33

Beckman

The Infinite Hero team isn’t trying to duplicate this morning’s 3.82 run. They’re trying some new components and the end result is a 4.016 at just 267.75.

Todd

4.003, 287.11 for the DHL crew. With few clouds and the sun on the track, have to wonder how many teams are testing set-ups they plan to use on race day at Indy.

Johnson

The Make-A-Wish team has been very active and Johnson clicks off another representative run with a 3.972, 310.84.

Coughlin

The top-end wiggle continues to be a concern for the SealMaster team. Coughlin is out of the throttle early with a 3.882 at 258.07 mph.

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Hight

A 3.8 in the heat of the day? No problem for the world’s quickest Dodger fan. Hight sets the bar high with a 3.897, 330.55.

Pedregon

Pedregon breaks the tires loose just past the Tree and the Snap-on Toyota darts across the centerline between the 330- and 660-foot timing blocks. Pedregon starts in the right lane and finishes in the left but manages not to hit anything.

Newby

In the warmest part of the day, the Rapisarda team posts a competitive 3.868 pass at just 306.74 mph.

J. Force

Force’s Chevy breaks the tires loose near half-track and the car makes a move towards the centerline. The 16-time champ corrals it and coasts to a 4.286. Teams are learning that conditions are quite different than they were this morning.

Langdon

The Global Electronic Technology crew spent most of Thursday assembling a new race car in the pits are Lucas Oil Raceway. The new chassis, Bounty Hunter No. 4, was completed in April, but will now be put into service. On a planned half-track shut off, Langdon runs 4.498, 169.27. While NHRA teams routinely rebuild and service engines in less than an hour, it’s rare that a team can take a bare chassis and turn it into a competitive race car in less than a day.

Johnson

It’s after 6 p.m. on the East Coast so the sun is beginning to set and header flames are now visible. Johnson takes advantage of the dropping track temps to post a 3.891, 327.19. He’s been one of the most active drivers during this week’s test.

Todd

Right after Johnson runs a 3.891, Todd matches him with a 3.899. The big difference between the runs was Todd’s top end speed, which was just 308.71 mph. That’s almost 20-mph slower than Johnson ran. Todd’s half-track E.T. is a very respectable 3.149.

DeJoria

DeJoria has made steady progress during each of her four runs today and she caps off a successful test with a 3.888, 330.31 blast.

Brown

Brown wraps up a successful test with a 3.740, 330.47 run. It will be interesting to see how he stacks up against teammate and points rival Leah Pritchett, who did not participate in the Indy test.

Pedregon

More frustration for the two-time champ as he smokes the tires again, this time at half-track.

Sanford

Sanford hardly looks like a rookie with a straight and clean 3.865 pass with an early shut-off 307.58 mph speed.

Schumacher

Schumacher ties the quickest run of the entire test with a 3.702, 332.34. He’s also got the best incremental numbers of the two-day test with a 2.976-second eighth mile.

Beckman

The Infinite Hero car knocks the tires loose early and slows to a 7.770. Regardless, the team must feel satisfied with their progress.

Capps

Much like Beckman, the NAPA Dodge is a bit too aggressive to get down the track and the result is a coasting 4.329

Newby

Newby has been solidly in the 3.8s all week and he lays down another one with a 3.840, 309.91.

Johnson

There are bracket racers who don’t make as many runs as Johnson has in this two day test. His final pass of the week is one of his best with a 3.864. Johnson was out of the gas before the finish line with a 311.63 mph speed.

Langdon

The second run on the new Bounty Hunter chassis is a beauty. Langdon clicks it at half-track but the early numbers are staggering. A 2.115 330-foot time is just a thousandth of a second off Schumacher’s best and a 2.977 eighth-mile is also one of the best of the week.

NOTEBOOK

Hight-Thu.jpgAfter running a record 3.79 and dominating the better part of the last four races, there was really no reason for

Robert Hight to test his Auto Club Camaro so that car is parked in favor of an all-new race car.

“You never know when you’re going to need a car so we thought it was best to have a spare car ready,” said Hight. “This car isn’t that much different than our old one but it’s brand new so we wanted to make some runs and get it as close to the other one as possible.”

Hight didn’t say which car he’ll run at Indy but when asked if he’d really consider parking the sport’s quickest and fastest Funny Car in favor of an all-new chassis, he was non-committal.

“We might do that,” he said. “Honestly, we’ll probably run the same car we ran in Brainerd but if this car runs the way we expect it to, we might race it. It’s just nice to have options. I ran a 3.86 on the second run and that’s not bad for a car that has never been down the track. We’re also here to test some parts and try some things that will be used for our other teams. We’re making a pretty serious effort to get John’s car to run like mine so that’s part of our reason for being here.”

 

It doesn’t take much to get

Ashley Sanford excited so it wasn’t much of a surprise to see her smiling from ear-to-ear after running a 3.848 in the Lagana Bros. Nitro Ninja dragster. It was Sanford’s first run since acquiring her Top Fuel license in May.

“That felt so good,” Sanford beamed. “It was great to make that first pass and get the butterflies out of my system. I haven’t driven in three months and I’ve been getting antsy. There is a lot of pressure over here because I want to do well. I want to qualify so I need all the runs I can get.”

Sanford shut off early on her first run with a 302-mph speed after she felt the car make a small move near half-track.

“My guys were really good; they just told me to drive it as far as I felt comfortable,” she said. “I felt the car move a little and I took my foot out of it. I was a bit surprised that we even ran 3.84 but that’s good. We know we’re probably going to have to run 3.76 or so to qualify next week so that’s our goal.”

Sanford and the K1 Speed/Lagana team plan to make one more run later tonight towards the 8 p.m. closing time in an effort to best duplicate the conditions that will likely be present for Q1 next Friday.

 

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Jack Beckman’s Infinite Hero Dodge has not exactly been the most consistent car at the Indy test but when it does make a full run, it’ has been impressive. Beckman has been the star of day two after his 3.827, 337.07 run this morning.

“That is my best speed by almost three miles-per-hour,” said Beckman. “So far, I’d say this test has been very productive, and not because we have the quickest run at the moment. We’ve only gotten down the track one run out of five but even when we don’t make it, we’ve gotten good data that we can use.”

Beckman acknowledged that the team was testing a variety of new parts including blowers, pressure plates, injectors, and some valve-train components.

“On the 3.82 run we had our baseline tune-up in along with some new valvetrain stuff we wanted to try,” said Beckman. “Other than that, we’re trying to cycle in all our back up parts so we know exactly what we have for the next seven races. We don’t want any surprises. I’m even using new boots and a new fire suit for this test.”

Beckman won’t say that he’s caught up to current performance leader Robert Hight, but he certainly has closed the gap on the Auto Club team that ran 3.79 last week in Brainerd.

“Look, before you can run 3.79 you have to learn how to run a 3.82 and then a 3.80 and so on. You can’t just go out there and pick up five-hundredths. You chip away at it. On that run, we probably could have squeezed a 3.81 out of it so that means we’re close. I’m also not sure if you’re going to see those kinds of numbers next week during the race. This track is a Gorilla; it’s sticky and over-prepped and we don’t have any sportsman cars running on it this week. Still, that doesn’t mean it won’t be fast.”

 

Poring over the raw data from the two-day Indy test reveals some interesting inside information. On Wednesday’s 3.702 pass,

Tony Schumacher ran the first 330-feet of Lucas Oil Raceway in 2.125 seconds. A day later, the 10-time Indy winner was actually quicker to the 330 with a 2.114 on an early shut-off 3.849. On his final run of the week, a 3.702, Schumacher also posted a 2.115-second short time. On the final run of the test, Shawn Langdon shut off early and recorded a 2.115-second short time.

Schumacher wasn’t the only Top Fuel racer to post an impressive 330-foot number. Antron Brown and Brittany Force both had 2.128-second numbers during the test. Brown did so on his 3.722-second run while Force shut off early with a coasting 4.599, but her early numbers would indicate a low 3.7-second pass. Billy Torrence was also quick in the first part of the track with a 2.136.

Only four runs in Top Fuel were quicker than 3.00-seconds with Schumacher again having the best three with a 2.976 and a pair of identical 2.978 runs while Brown also ran 2.994 on Thursday. Langdon's final pass was a 2.977 at half-track.

In Funny Car, Jack Beckman’s strong 3.82-second run from Thursday morning included a 3.104-second eighth mile but John Force was actually quicker to that distance with a 3.097 during his early shut-off 3.868 run at just 292.14 mph.

Schumacher also had the best eighth-mile speed at 295.46 mph while Beckman was the fastest Funny Car shutting off the clocks at 288.39 mph.

 

Although he did not have low elapsed time or top speed of the Indy test,

John Force wasn’t afraid to call it a success. The 16-time champ was in the mix with a best of 3.86 in his Peak Camaro.

“We had a good test session,” said Force. “We changed a lot of motor stuff and the clutch. We have been over the last couple of races and it’s starting to show; we’re running some good numbers. We ran an [3.] 86 and that was shutting off at about 700-feet. Big picture; I’d said we’d be ready for Indy and we’re ready for Indy. We’re ready to go racing.”

As noted above, Force’s 3.86-second run had some impressive incremental numbers including a 3.097 eighth-mile and a 287.05 mph eighth-mile speed. Force has won the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals four times during his career but his last win came in 2002 when he defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final round. Force also won “the Big Go” in 1993, 1996, and 1998.

 

Source : https://www.nhra.com/news/2017/thursday-s-indy-testing-notebook

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