Schumacher paces DSR dragsters with No. 3 spot in Top Fuel
POMONA, CA – A year ago at the end of the season-opening NHRA Winternationals, Jack Beckman and Don Schumacher Racing’s Infinite Hero Funny Car team didn’t have to worry about racing on Sunday because they failed to qualify for the 16-car field.
What a difference a year makes.
Beckman with crew chief Jimmy Prock and assistants John Medlen and Chris Cunningham along with the Infinite Hero team will be racing on Sunday this year in the NHRA Circle K Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., as the No. 1 qualifier to open the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season at Pomona, Calif.
POMONA, CA – In the ever-evolving new world of Pro Stock, improvement is the No. 1 goal. Two-time champion Erica Enders nailed that goal every time at the season-opening NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series race, the Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.
Enders improved in every qualifying session with her Elite Motorsports Mopar Dodge Dart, ending up No. 9 for Sunday’s eliminations.
“I think we have a lot to be optimistic about,” Enders said. “We have slowly picked away at it through these four qualifying sessions. We made a pretty big change for that last run just to see how the car would take it. It adapted well, so that gives us a little confidence going into tomorrow.”
POMONA, CA – Morgan Lucas had a pretty busy day at the 56th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals, but when the dust settled he had successfully managed to qualify his Lucas Oil Racing TV dragster in the Top Fuel field and give Hollywood legend Jane Seymour a “Baptism by Nitro.”
“We had a pretty special first-timer with us today with Jane Seymour, and we were honored to show her a little slice of what we do,” Lucas said. “Jane is working on a movie project with my father (Lucas Oil founder Forrest Lucas) and the extremely talented group at ESX, and Dad had invited them all out to the races. I think they had a great time and I know Jane was still buzzing about being on the starting line a good hour after we ran.
POMONA, CA – Allen Johnson and his Marathon Petroleum/J&J Racing Dodge Dart GT came to Auto Club Raceway at Pomona with a positive outlook on the new fuel injection setups for the entire Pro Stock category. Johnson powered his red, white and blue Pro Stock Dart through all four rounds of qualifying and began the process of gaining data to put towards his raceday tuneup. On Sunday, Johnson will be running his own race and focusing on turning on the win light in his lane each round and find his way in the winner circle at the 56th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals.
In the first round of qualifying, Johnson clocked in with a 6.653-second pass at 208.33 mph, putting him in the top half of the field. In Friday’s afternoon session, Johnson crossed the finish line with a 6.663, 206.80 and remained in the top half of the field in the No. 7 spot.
POMONA, CA – The four rounds of professional qualifying at the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals have gone extremely well for Top Fuel pro Richie Crampton. The affable Aussie has looked solid in the seat of his Lucas Oil dragster as he begins his third year of professional competition, and his best pass of 3.727 seconds at 323.66 mph has him ranked a lofty fourth heading into race day.
“It feels great to get back in the car and make passes that count,” Crampton said. “I’m still as excited about driving this race car as I was two years ago when it all started for me, and I look at every run as though it’s going to be the best run I’ve ever made.
POMONA – At the conclusion of qualifying for the historic 56th annual edition of the Circle K NHRA Winternationals Robert Hight and the Automobile Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car will lead the charge for John Force Racing as the No. 3 qualifier. Hight’s final run of qualifying a stellar 3.913 second pass secured the third spot and earned Hight a valuable qualifying bonus point. Hight is followed in the Funny Car qualifying order by teammate Courtney Force, No. 6 and John Force, No. 9. Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster team were the picture of consistency throughout all four qualifying session settling into the No. 6 qualifying spot, her best career start at the Winternationals.
Hight and the Auto Club team powered into the No. 3 spot and he will face Tommy Johnson Jr. in the first round. This will be the first time Hight has faced Johnson Jr. at the Winternationals and Hight holds a 13-6 career win record versus him. Last year as the No. 7 qualifier Hight raced to the semi-finals before dropping a close race to Ron Capps.
POMONA, CA – Shane Gray will kick off the new era of NHRA Pro Stock from the No. 11 spot at the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season opener, the Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
For this season, NHRA mandated new rules for the Pro Stock class, including fuel-injected engines limited to 10,500 rpms and shorter wheelie bars. Gray and his Gray Motorsports team spent the entire off-season building new engines for the retooled Valvoline/Nova Services Chevrolet, testing several times.
“The guys did a lot of work between now and the last time we were here,” Gray said. “We’re not where we want to be, of course, but only one guy is today. We’ve got some good speed in the car, and we’ll keep working on it to get some better e.t.s.”