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Testing Under Way at U.S. Nats

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, August 24 2017

Tony Schumacher led the pack at testing in Indy on Wednesday. (File photo)

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Eight-time NHRA world champion Tony Schumacher led Top Fuel drivers during the first of two days of  testing Wednesday for the 63rd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Clermont, Ind.

Meanwhile, Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan led the Funny Car class as preparations began for “The Big Go,” the final event of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season near Indianapolis.

Schumacher posted a 1,000-foot run of 3.707-seconds at 327.19 mph in his U.S. Army dragster. The defending event winner, “The Sarge” has 10 wins at the U.S. Nationals and is the winningest driver in the event’s history. Schumacher, who has one win this year, is looking to parlay a successful test into a strong showing during the event scheduled from Aug. 30-Sept. 4.

“When we talk about the result it comes down to this _ it comes down to testing, working hard and digging deep,” Schumacher said. “All the thought that goes into the work before (the race). We’ve had some great success here because of that, because of the effort that we put in for this big race.”

DSR teammate Antron Brown was second with his run of 3.753-seconds at 325.30 mph in his Matco Tools dragster. Brown has three wins at the U.S. Nationals _ one in Top Fuel and two in Pro Stock Motorcycle _ and his team used the day to run in conditions competitors expect to see during the race weekend. 

“We’re just trying to be strategic and run the same times that we’re actually going to run down the racetrack,” said Brown, the three-time/reigning world champion. “So that when we come out here we can put our best foot forward. This is the race where you come and want to show-out.”

Brittany Force of John Force Racing was third with her run of 3.773-seconds at 301.07 mph in her Monster Energy dragster.

Hagan was the class of the Funny Car field with his 1,000-foot run of 3.861-seconds at 332.92 mph in his Pennzoil/Mopar Dodge Charger R/T. Hagan, the defending event winner, currently is third in points. JFR’s Robert Hight was second at 3.863-seconds at 328.78 mph in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevy Camaro SS while reigning world champion and point-leader Ron Capps of DSR was third at 3.898-seconds at 327.98 mph in his NAPA Auto Parts Charger.

The world’s biggest drag race, the U.S. Nationals is the 18th of 24 events on the 2017 schedule. Teams will be battling for top-10 spots in order to qualify for the six-race Countdown to the Championship with an increased amount of points in play via the point-and-a-half system for this event (150 points to the winner).

The Countdown playoff season will begin with the 10th annual Carolina NHRA Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C., Sept. 15-17.

Over the course of six days at the U.S. Nationals, nearly 1,000 drivers across 12 categories will compete in order to raise a Wally trophy on Labor Day Monday and collect expanded prize money.

In addition to Schumacher and Hagan, Chris McGaha (Pro Stock) and five-time world champion Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of a race that will be carried on the FOX national broadcast network and Fox Sports 1 (FS1). Included is a live broadcast of Monday’s finals on both FOX and FS1 on Monday, Sept. 4.

The first of five Mello Yello Series qualifying sessions is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1. Two more sessions will take place on Saturday, Sept. 2, at 2:30 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place on Sunday, Sept. 3, at 11:30 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 4.

The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel will be contested Saturday, Sept. 2, with rounds at 3:45 p.m., 5:45 p.m. and 7:40 p.m. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car takes place on Sunday, Sept. 3, for the eight qualified drivers, with rounds at 12:45 p.m., 2:45 p.m. and 4:40 p.m.

FOX’s national network and FS1 will televise coverage starting with qualifying on Sunday, Sept. 3, on FS1 at 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. (EST). The broadcasts will continue on FS1 with two hours of live coverage of eliminations on Monday, Sept. 4, starting at 11 a.m. (EST) and continuing live on FOX at 1 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased by calling the NHRA Ticket Sales Center at (800) 884-NHRA (6472), or online at www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12-and-under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information visit www.NHRA.com.

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The 17th edition of the Mopar HEMI® Challenge will be contested during the U.S. Nationals. Mopar’s Sportsman racers have reached national and divisional winner’s circles across the country this season, and during Labor Day weekend they will be a major part of “The Big Go.”

The unique event will see drivers in Super Stock/Automatic HEMI (SS/AH) battle for bragging rights in 1968 HEMI-powered Dodge Darts and Plymouth Barracudas _ the original Mopar package cars. The vehicles were purpose-built for the drag strip and served as the precursor to today’s Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak vehicles.

The winner will claim $15,000 and a HEMI Challenge trophy, while the event also provides a cash payout to the top 16 finishers. All competitors receive special HEMI Challenge decals, hats and limited-edition posters.

“We take pride in how our classic Mopar package cars have remained so popular close to 50 years after they were introduced,” said Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA – Global. “As we celebrate our brand’s 80th anniversary in 2017, we continue to support the passion and commitment of our Sportsman racers not only through the Mopar HEMI Challenge, but also with contingency programs and our modern-day package car, the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak.”

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Wednesday’s testing results for the 63rd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway:

Top Fuel _ 1. Tony Schumacher, 3.707-seconds, 327.19 mph; 2. Antron Brown, 3.753, 325.50; 3. Brittany Force, 3.773, 301.07; 4. Wayne Newby, 3.806, 309.77; 5. Billy Torrence, 3.819, 324.59; 6. Shawn Langdon, 3.877, 248.93.

Funny Car _ 1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.861, 332.92; 2. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.863, 328.78; 3. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.898, 327.98; 4. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.917, 325.06; 5. Johnnie Lindberg, Toyota Camry, 3.994, 274.44; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.023, 306.88; 7. J.R. Todd, Camry,  4.024, 263.72; 8. John Force, Camaro, 4.222, 216.41; 9. Jack Beckman, Charger, 5.006, 151.54.

Pro Stock Motorcycle_1. Ron Tornow, 6.960, 190.65; 2. Ryan Oehler, 7.121, 187.76; 3. Mark Paquette, 7.275, 150.25.

Point standings (top-10) following the 36th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway:

Top Fuel _1. Antron Brown, 1,513; 2. Steve Torrence, 1,482; 3. Leah Pritchett, 1,453; 4. Tony Schumacher, 1,121; 5. Brittany Force, 1,052; 6. Doug Kalitta, 1,038; 7. Clay Millican, 1,014; 8. Terry McMillen, 722; 9. Scott Palmer, 649; 10. Troy Coughlin Jr., 576.

Funny Car _1. Ron Capps, 1,383; 2. Robert Hight, 1,247; 3. Matt Hagan, 1,214; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., 1,180; 5. Jack Beckman, 1,160; 6. Courtney Force, 1,012; 7. John Force, 954; 8. Tim Wilkerson, 792; 9. J.R. Todd, 788; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 664.

Pro Stock _1. Bo Butner, 1,526; 2. Tanner Gray, 1,300; 3. Greg Anderson, 1,263; 4. Jason Line, 1,123; 5. Drew Skillman, 1,089; 6. Erica Enders, 1,044; 7. Jeg Coughlin Jr., 1,006; 8. Vincent Nobile, 899; 9. Allen Johnson, 657; 10. Chris McGaha, 645.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1. LE Tonglet, 874; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 690; 3. Jerry Savoie, 655; 4. Hector Arana Jr., 632; 5. Matt Smith, 581; 6. Andrew Hines, 529; 7. Scotty Pollacheck, 528; 8. Joey Gladstone, 427; 9. Karen Stoffer, 408; 10. Angie Smith, 394.

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, August 24 2017
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