Dixon, Force still tops in testing
CHANDLER Ariz - SUMMIT FastNews - The names at the top of the "leader board" after the second day of testing at Firebird International Raceway were the same as Saturday, with Larry Dixon turning in the top laps in Top Fuel and John Force the clear leader among the Funny Cars, but Scotty Cannon came very close to raining on Force's parade!
Clear, blue, sunny skies with chilly air temperatures greeted the racers and fans at the National Time Trials and the challenging Firebird launch pad continued to baffle many crew chiefs, reducing most runs to tire shake and an early shutoff. But a few top teams solved the equation and two well-known rookies also finished their licensing upgrades.
Dixon made two early-shutoff runs today, the first a 4.676 at 261.62 mph, and the second a 4.630 at 279.85. His intermediate times were all quicker than those posted by any of the other Top Fuel teams, including Tony Schumacher.
The only other Top Fuel driver to make close to a full pass was Joe Amato's replacement driver, Darrell Russell, who completed his license upgrade with a 4.818 at 265.74 mph, the header flames out just past 1,000 feet. Schumacher was able to deliver two respectable half-track runs and Doug Herbert managed one trip to half-track, but Kenny Bernstein continued to struggle on the launch pad.
Force capped his day with an early-shutoff 4.831 at 293.54 mph after strong half-track runs on two of his other three attempts. Force's teammate Tony Pedregon also made several strong half-track runs, with times very close to those of Force, but his final attempt at a full pass came to an early end when the car moved toward the wall and he had to shut it off.
It was Scotty Cannon who came closest to dethroning Force this weekend, building on two good earlier half-track runs to make the only true full pass we saw from the fuel cars all weekend. In the gathering darkness, Cannon thundered down the middle of the groove and right out the back door for a 4.945 at 304.39, the highest speed by any fuel car this weekend.
Tony Bartone completed his license upgrade in Funny Car with a 5.135 at 243.06 mph, demonstrating his driving experience when the car pushed out a head gasket on the top end and the unbalanced header force drove the car toward the wall.
Tommy Johnson, Jr. and Del Worsham were the only other Funny Car drivers able to get off the launch pad successfully, making strong, almost identical runs to half-track on their final pass of the day.
Stephen Belsky, on a Funny Car licensing pass, was involved in the only incident of the weekend. The car shook hard on the launch and then the supercharger exploded violently. The concussion blew the body in the air. The car stopped at the finish line and the body came to rest, upside down, near the 330-foot marker. Belsky was uninjured and the car body appeared to be intact.
The best Federal-Mogul Dragster runs of the day were a 5.515 at 254.09 by Brian Hough and a 5.554 at 266.64 by Brandon Bernstein, while Jay Payne continued to make strong runs in F-M Funny Car, his best a 5.835 at 242.98
Several teams will stay at Firebird to test through Wednesday, then move to Tucson for next weekend's testing.
Kenny Bernstein: His first pass of the day produced a 0.844 60-foot time, the quickest to that point in the weekend, accompanied by by tire shake and then smoke. His second was even quicker off the mark, 0.832, but then the car went into shake, followed by full-blown tire smoke. His final try of the day produced instant tire shake, with a 0.888 60-foot time, and he shut it down early once again.
Larry Dixon: Made a very strong run to 1,000 feet and then shut it down. His intermediate times were very close to his 4.61 run Saturday, 0.843 at 60 feet (the quickest so far this weekend), 2.158 at 330, 3.094 and 268.12 mph at half track, and 3.894 at 1,000 feet, coasting to a 4.676 at 261.62 mph at the finish line. His second of the day was also a 1,000-foot effort, with even better incremental times: 0.847, 2.156, 3.087/268.49, and 4.319, coasting to a 4.630 at 279.85.
Doug Herbert: His first run was a good half pass despite dropped cylinders as he neared the midpoint of the track. His intermediate times were 0.851 at 60 feet, 2.214 at 330, then he slowed. Herbert's second pass was a good half-track run, starting with a 0.856 short time, 2.216 at 330 feet, and 3.231 and 236.26 mph at half-track. His final run of the day went back to smoking the tires, launching with the wheels up at a 0.862 pace, followed by tire smoke when the wheels came down around 100 feet out.
Darrell Russell: His first run of the day was a smooth half pass, with a 0.871 60-foot time, 2.224 at 330 feet, and 3.199 and 255.48 at half track. Then he came back to complete his licensing runs with a full pass, starting with a 0.969 60-foot time, a 3.202 at 255.53 mph at half track, then shutting off a bit before the finish line with a 4.818 at 265.74 mph.
C.J. Nelson: The San Diego, Calif., driver made a licensing pass in Top Fuel, but tire shake and smoke ended the run early.
His first run was another solid half pass, with a 0.866 at 60 feet, 2.211 at 330, and 3.166 and 264.70 at half track. His second was also a half pass, even quicker, with a 0.856 short time and a 3.13 at 265 mph at half-track. The car was drifting toward the centerline and he shut it off at that point.
Tony Bartone: His first pass of the day produced lots of shake and a 0.869 60-foot time, followed by tire smoke about 100 feet out. His second was a good half-track run, the header flames going out a bit before the 660-foot marker after a shaking 0.895 60-foot time and a 2.342 at 330 feet. His final run of the day completed his licensing requirements with a 5.13 at 243.06, the ET and speed off a bit because the engine ate a head gasket on the top end, pushing the car toward the wall, forcing him to lift a bit early.
Scotty Cannon: His first run of the day was a good half-track effort, with a 0.892 60-foot time accompanied by some shake, a 2.353 at 330 feet, and a 3.438 and 210.31 at the midpoint. He came back later for another half-track effort, with incremental times of 0.885, 2.309, and 3.401 at 201.82, shutting off a little before the 660-foot marker. His third pass of the day was the next-to-last run of the day, in gathering twilight, and he came close to knocking Force off the top of the heap with the only true "full pass" we've seen all weekend from the fuel cars, running it out the back door for a 4.945 at 304.39 mph.
Dean Skuza: His first run of the day produced a 0.883 60-foot time with some tire shake, and a 2.288 at 330 feet, where he clicked it off. His second produced a 0.887 60-foot time, followed by tire smoke. His third was almost a duplicate of the second, with a 0.885 60-foot time, followed by lots of tire smoke.
Tony Pedregon: Attempted a full pass on his first run, but the car started smoking heavily around the 1,000-foot marker and the car moved over next to the wall, so Tony shut it down at that point. The incremental times, 0.871 at 60 feet, 2.321 at 330, 3.380 and 235.56 at half-track, and 4.288 at 1,000 feet. He shut it off just past half-track on his second run after a 0.870 short time, 2.317 at 330 feet, and 3.355 and 240.59 mph at half-track. His final try was the last run of the weekend and the car was on a good pass to half-track, but started drifting toward the wall and Tony had to lift.
John Force: His first pass of the day was a half-track run with good numbers, 0.869 at 60 feet, 2.272 at 330, and 3.285 and 228.56 at half track. He made a big burnout on his second, but had to shut it down when the tires started to smoke about 400 feet down the track after a 0.871 60-foot time and a 2.282 at 330 feet. His final pass of the day was a crusher for all the teams struggling to even get off the launch pad, an early-shutoff 4.831 at 293.54 mph, the car firmly planted without a trace of tire smoke anywhere in the run.
Al Hofmann: His first try of the day ended with the burnout after the car developed a fuel leak. The team fixed the leak and he came back to take his turn in the "shake and smoke" contest, the car losing traction about 100 feet off the starting line. His third produced a shaking 0.948 60-foot time and another early shutoff.
Jerry Toliver: His first run of the day produced lots of shake and he shut it down almost immediately.
Johnny Gray: His first run of the day produced shake at the start and tire smoke at 100 feet. His second was a little better, the tire smoke starting at 200 feet. His third was a carbon copy of the first, shaking and then smoking before going 100 feet.
Stephen Belsky: His first pass of the day was his second try at a licensing pass and it ended in spectacular fashion. The Cavalieri Brothers' Funny Car shook hard on the launch and Belsky tried to drive through it. Then the supercharger exploded, blowing the body in the air. The car coasted to a stop at the finish line, while the body came to rest at the 330-foot marker, upside down. Belsky was unhurt and the car body appeared to be mostly intact.
Del Worsham: His first try of the day ended in tire smoke at 100 feet after a shaking 0.886 launch. His second was much better, with a 0.878 60-foot time and no tire shake. He shut it down between half-track and the 660-foot marker, clocked at 3.35 and 244 mph at half-track.
Ron Capps: His first of the day produced shake and a 0.904 60-foot time, then tire smoke. His second was a bit quicker, a 0.892, but still shaking and he shut it off around 100 feet down the track.
Tommy Johnson Jr.: His first try was much the same as his teammate Capps', with shake and a 0.891 60-foot time, then tire smoke. His second was much better, very close to identical with Del Worsham's second run, with a 0.876 at 60 feet and a 3.35 at 239.36 mph at half track, where he clicked it off.
Pro Stock Truck
Rick Distefano: On his first attempt the truck didn't shift at all, staying in first gear. On the second he managed the first couple gearshifts, but the truck was skating to the right and Distefano wisely lifted, doing a good job of avoiding the 330-foot reflector.
Brandon Bernstein: His first run of the day was a solid pass, despite slight shake on the launch. His incremental times were 0.983, 2.555, 3.732 and 213.30 mph, 4.715, and 5.554 at 266.64. He came back on a side-by-side run opposite Darryl Hitchman, but shut the car down before mid track with problems.
Craig Hough: His first pass of the day trailed a bunch of foggy mist and the engine sounded like it floated a couple valves, but he hung in there for a 5.515 at 254.09 mph. On his second run of the day, he left hard and was charging at half track, then the burst panel let go and the car coasted to a 5.747 at 187.78 mph after posting a 0.913 60-foot time, a 2.387 at 330 feet, and 3.558 and 209.95 mph at half track.
Darryl Hitchman: On his first try of the day the car dropped cylinders at the start and he shut it down just past half-track. His second run, opposite Brandon Bernstein, was a bit better, but again the car dropped cylinders and he could only manage a 6.381 at 181.01.
Mark Niver: His first run of the day was a nice one, driving out of shake to post a 5.606 at 255.10 mph.
Federal-Mogul Funny Car
John Hyland: Got the tires firmly planted on the launch with a shake-free 0.966 60-foot time, but the front wheels were in the air and the car headed for the centerline, so he shut it down. His second of the day produced instant, severe tire shake and he called it off immediately. He came back for a final try and the car launched hard, wheels up, and headed for the wall, so once again he had to shut it down.
John Patton: His first run produced some shake on the launch, but he drove out of it to post a 5.891 at 230.61 mph. His second try of the day found his car skating to the left, chattering the tires, and he kissed the wall before he could get the car to come back to the center of the lane.
Jay Payne: His first run of the day was a good one, 5.856 at 242.50 mph. His second, however, produced instant tire shake and smoke. His final attempt was his best of the day, cleanly off the launch pad with a 0.925 60-foot time and a string-straight run for a 5.836 at 242.98 mph.
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