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NHRA Fires Up For Spring Training

| , RacinToday.com Friday, February 5 2016

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Steve Torrence and Jack Beckman were quickest in their respective categories Thursday during Day 2 of NHRA Nitro Spring Training at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz., near Phoenix.

NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car teams are utilizing the four-day preseason test to prepare for the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals next weekend (Feb. 11-14) at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. The race near Los Angeles is the 2016 season-opening event for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

Torrence, who finished eighth in points last season, stole the show in Top Fuel, powering his Capco Contractors dragster to four low 3.7-second runs over 1,000-feet, with a best of 3.729-seconds at 326.08 mph.

“That’s going to be my career-fastest run, at least through today,” said Torrence, who also posted times of 3.739, 3.750 and 3.753-seconds. “We didn’t even go all the way to the end, clicked it at about 700-750 feet. Went 2.96 to half-track, and I’m really impressed with the way the car is running. This new Morgan Lucas Racing chassis is working wonders for us. My team has worked their tails off all winter to get this car going. I’m glad all of this hard work is coming to fruition.”

Former world champion Shawn Langdon followed Torrence with his 3.733-second pass at 315.49 mph in the Red Fuel dragster, while Richie Crampton was third-quickest in his Lucas Oil dragster with a 3.747 at 298.47. Brittany Force was fourth-quickest, posting a pair of 3.75-second runs in her Monster dragster. Two-time/reigning world champ Antron Brown posted a best of 3.758 at 292.20 in his Matco Tools dragster.

In Funny Car, “Fast Jack” Beckman was quickest and produced a pair of 3.89-second runs, with his best effort in the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger a 3.894-second pass at 327.02 mph.

“We’re trying different parts and a different tune-up on the car,” said Beckman, a former world champ who had a memorable season last year when he raced to seven victories, set the national record four times and finished second in points. “It’s not just picking up where we left off in Pomona and trying to tweak the timers on clutch flow or the amount of the degrees in the ignition timing. We’re really trying to do things to make a better performing race car here.

“And in testing nobody gets any points, there’s no trophy. But there’s pride. And a lot of times even when you run poorly, you find something that can help you later in the year. We’ve had three outstanding laps so far this weekend, and there’s no reason to think we can’t continue the next two days. I feel good because the guys feel good.”

Tommy Johnson Jr. was second-quickest in his Make-A-Wish Dodge with a 3.932-second pass at 321.81 mph. Meanwhile, 16-time world champ John Force was third in his Peak Chevy Camaro with a 3.945 at 323.97 mph. Reigning world champion Del Worsham posted a best of 3.956 at 325.77 in his DHL Toyota Camry.

Doug Kalitta and Ron Capps both experienced minor on-track engine explosions with flashes of fire during separate attempts.

Third-generation racer T.J. Coughlin made three runs in the DSR Red Fuel dragster to complete his Top Fuel license requirement. After competing in NHRA Pro Mod competition last season, TJ is exploring his options in the Top Fuel category in a bid to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Jeg Coughlin Sr., who competed in NHRA Top Fuel racing in the 1960s and ‘70s.

Coughlin made three passes: 3.999 at 229.98, 3.853 at 321.81 and 3.870 at 289.14. Prior to Thursday he also had made several runs in Del Worsham’s Top Fuel car at another track. Coughlin is in awe of the massive 10,000 horsepower machines.

“It’s pretty wild,” said Coughlin, son of two-time NHRA Pro Mod champ Troy Coughlin. “Thanks to Don Schumacher Racing for giving me the opportunity to do this with them here. It felt great. It was extremely fast and it leaves hard. It takes your shoulders and pushes them back and the further you go the further (your shoulders) go back. You really can feel what you are seeing on the graph of the G-force meter. It’s just unbelievable and very fascinating.”

Coughlin finished eighth in Pro Mod points last season with a trio of semifinal finishes in his JEGS Corvette. He said there’s a bit of a comparison to his Pro Mod machine.  “It leaves a lot harder than a Pro Mod car but it’s similar,” Coughlin said. “The way the power comes in and pushes you back it’s a lot like that location-wise on the racetrack, but it’s a lot more dramatic in a Top Fuel car. There’s almost no words for it.”

Coughlin said he still is formulating a plan for a Top Fuel career.  “I’ve always been into the history of drag racing and I would go to YouTube and watch some older races and I caught one from ‘78 or ‘79 and saw my grandfather (Jeg Coughlin Sr.) was runnerup to Connie Kalitta and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s really cool,’^” Coughlin said. “It made me think about it. I like the history, the amount of work and the effort it takes to be a good driver and good team and working together.

“I’m just really appreciative of the opportunity Don Schumacher and his group have granted me this weekend. They have great equipment and it was a lot of fun today.”

Several drivers made runs Thursday, many of them either shut-off runs or tire-smokers, including former Funny Car world champions Robert Hight, Matt Hagan and Cruz Pedregon as well was Courtney Force, Chad Head, Alexis DeJoria and Tim Wilkerson and Troy Buff in Top Fuel.

Tony Schumacher and Jack Beckman were quickest in their respective categories during the few runs attempted on Wednesday. Schumacher, an eight-time Top Fuel world champion, powered to a 3.745 at 326.95 in the U.S. Army dragster and Beckman’s best was 3.920 at 316.60.

Some of the quickest performances from Day 2 of NHRA Nitro Spring Training:

TOP FUEL

3.729-seconds, 326.08 mph _ Steve Torrence

3.733, 315.49 _ Shawn Langdon

3.739, 282.54 _ Steve Torrence

3.750, 325.45 _ Steve Torrence

3.753, 296.11 _ Steve Torrence

3.758, 292.20 _ Antron Brown

3.747, 298.47 _ Richie Crampton

3.751, 316.38 _ Brittany Force

3.758, 320.97 _ Brittany Force

3.775, 272.12 _ Antron Brown

3.781, 260.21 _ Tony Schumacher

3.791, 292.58 _ Leah Pritchett

3.795, 272.67 _ Leah Pritchett

3.825, 274.00 _ Antron Brown

3.853, 321.81 _ TJ Coughlin

3.863, 269.03 _ Dave Connolly

3.865, 239.82 _ Tony Schumacher

3.870, 289.14 _ TJ Coughlin

3.930, 256.41 _ J.R. Todd

3.936, 252.05 _ Dave Connolly

FUNNY CAR

3.894, 327.03 _ Jack Beckman

3.895, 325.06 _ Jack Beckman

3.932, 321.81 _Tommy Johnson Jr.

3.945, 323.97_ John Force

3.956, 325.77 _ Del Worsham

3.963, 234.82 _ John Force

 

| , RacinToday.com Friday, February 5 2016
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