It was another record-breaking Friday night near Phoenix for U.S. Army Racing’s Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher and his nine-man team led by crew chief Mike Neff at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona.
The eight-time NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Top Fuel world champion made two record-breaking runs during the opening day of the 34th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals establishing a new track elapsed time record and twice turning the fastest speed in Top Fuel history to earn the provisional pole heading in Saturday’s final two qualifying sessions. U.S. Army Racing’s Antron Brown and Leah Pritchett posted the seventh-best and 10th-best runs down the track, respectively.
Schumacher, driver of the U.S. Army Dragster for Don Schumacher Racing (DSR), opened his run for a sixth Phoenix triumph by setting new track records for both time and speed with his pass of 3.649 seconds at 334.65 mph. After seeing Clay Millican break his speed record by going 335.23 mph to open the second session, Schumacher was machine-like to close qualifying with a lap of 3.667 seconds at 336.57 mph to regain the speed record.
‘The Sarge’ laid down a blazing 3.649-second at 334.65-mph pass powered by Pennzoil in Q1, resetting both ends of the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park track records. The run not only became the quickest and fastest Top Fuel pass officially recorded at the Chandler, Arizona dragstrip, but also went down in the books as the fastest Top Fuel run in NHRA history.
As Schumacher waited to run in the final Top Fuel pairing of the day, his crew chief Mike ‘Zippy’ Neff watched competitor Clay Millican steal the speed record. Not to be outdone, Zippy turned up the wick and tuned the U.S. Army dragster to another impressive pass. Schumacher crossed the beams in 3.667-secs at 336.57-mph to earn three bonus points and reclaim top speed.
B. FORCE RETURNS TO RACING; C. FORCE LEADS JOHN FORCE RACING AFTER FRIDAY QUALIFYING AT NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS
CHANDLER, AZ — John Force Racing had it’s full fleet on the race track Friday at the 34th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals, the second of 24 races on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule, at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park outside of Phoenix.
Top Fuel world champion Brittany Force returned to work in her Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster just 13 days after a crash at the season-opening Winternationals.
“It was ugly,” said Force of her Feb. 11 crash. “I was hurting for a few days but I feel good right now. I got in (the race car) yesterday. I think that was the best decision. I jumped in, got belted in and I felt good. I recovered pretty quickly. I’m glad to be back. You know, this is home; these racetracks are home.”
CHANDLER, AZ – Just 12 days after a huge crash in the opening round of the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, reigning Top Fuel world champion Brittany Force has been cleared and plans to race at this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park outside of Phoenix.
“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season. It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”
Force has piloted her Monster Energy dragster to three runner-up finishes out of her five starts at the facility including two consecutive finals in 2016 and 2017.
The 34th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals, the second of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, begins with qualifying on Friday, Feb. 23 and Saturday, Feb. 24 at 2 and 4:30 p.m. MT. Sunday eliminations begin at 11 a.m. MT. Tune in to watch live qualifying Friday on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) at 5 p.m. MT.
VALDOSTA, GA – Straight out of the box after winning the Mid-West Pro Mod Series Radials vs. the World championship last fall, Keith Haney drove his nitrous-boosted 2016 Camaro to an impressive runner-up finish Feb. 18, at Lights Out 9, the biggest, most prestigious standalone drag radial race in the world. After qualifying eighth for the 32-car RvW field at South Georgia Motorsports Park, the Tulsa, OK-based new car dealer defeated four worthy rivals before coming up just a little short of Georgia’s own “Stevie Fast” Jackson.
“Amazing. To come out here and run like this and get to the finals when everybody said I wouldn’t, and make career-best runs in this car, well, it really couldn’t be much better,” Haney said shortly after covering the SGMP eighth mile in 3.77 seconds at 199.52 mph, compared to 3.74 at 199.67 for Jackson in the $50,000-to-win final round. “We didn’t do any testing before coming here. None whatsoever–and everybody knows it–so my team, I just couldn’t be any prouder of them.”
KALITTA LOOKS TO MAKE IT TWO IN A ROW – Coming off a season-opening win at the Winternationals in Pomona, Doug Kalitta will be looking to make it two in a row this weekend in Phoenix. Kalitta now has registered at least one Top Fuel victory in each of the last six seasons and in 18 of 21 overall. The Mac Tools Toyota driver has 44 career Top Fuel victories – good for fifth all-time. He has one Phoenix win to his credit (2001) and has earned three runner-up finishes (2015, 2010, 2004) at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.
Doug Kalitta: “To get the first win of the season and get that monkey off our back was huge. My guys have had a lot of work to do to prepare for Phoenix. We blew up a lot of stuff in Pomona. But we’ll be ready. We’ll go there and see if we can qualify upfront and try to get another win.”
Top Sportsman 32 will enter its second season this year. This will be the first season for Top Dragster 32. Since the PDRA’s inception, TS and TD have grown in number of entries to allow for these ‘32’ classes. If 42 or more entries in TS or TD make a qualifying pass, the class is split into Elite 16 and a second 32 car field. Both the 32 classes and the Elite 16 classes will crown world champions and now the payout will be the same up to the runner up finishers.