CLERMONT, Ind. — Robert Hight and Mike Neff were the quickest in Funny Car, while Top Fuel pilot Bob Vandergriff, Jr. and Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Andrew Hines put up the best time in their respective categories Wednesday during the first of two days of open testing at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series teams are utilizing the two-day test session to prepare for the 57th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, the world’s most prestigious drag race, which will be held Aug. 31 – Sept. 5.
Hight, who currently sits second in the Funny Car point standings, powered his Auto Club Ford Mustang to a Funny Car best of 4.249 seconds at 282.90 mph.
“It’s become a tradition to come here and make test runs,” Hight said. “I believe if we didn’t come it would feel like our chances would be out the window. We got a full line up of five or six runs hopefully ready to go to get this thing ready so Friday night (qualifying for the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals) we know this thing is going to go down the track. When you only have one run that first night on Friday it is something important. Normally you have two runs on the first day, but here you’ve got to make the first one count and then you can stand back on Saturday night and throw down. A big, big part of that is what we do this week during testing.”
Fellow John Force teammate and current Funny Car points leader Mike Neff posted an impressive run in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang of 4.262 at 298.27 to be the second quickest of the day.
“You hope the conditions (during testing) are close to what they’ll be during the race at least to get you a base line,” Neff said. “You could do good testing here and come out for the race and have different conditions and it doesn’t mean you are going to do good or vice versa. You can do so good in testing and then at the race everything is different so you just never know. There is no guarantee that if you run good in testing you are going to run good in the race.”
Jeff Arend was the third quickest of the Funny Car session with a run of 4.332 at 246.08 in his DHL Toyota. Courtney Force, who is expected to make her Funny Car debut in 2012, was fourth quickest with a 4.362 at 287.53 while Melanie Troxel posted a 9.030 at 74. 28. Alexis DeJoria, who will make her Funny Car debut at Dallas in September, rounded out the class with a run of 9.58 at 83.49 in her patron Tequila Toyota.
In Top Fuel, Vandergriff and Rod Fuller waited until late in the first day of testing to take to the track hoping to simulate conditions they might encounter during the first session of qualifying. Vandergriff led the field with a run of 3.937 at 280.02 and Fuller posted a run of 3.999 at 255.29 in his Abu Dhabi/Yas Marina Circuit dragster. Brady Kalivoda rounded out the class with his run of 4.363, 201.22.
“Next week is all about qualifying,” said Fuller. “You know at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals everybody swings for the fences. We have two night sessions, Friday night and then essentially a night session on Saturday night. For us our car is running really fast and consistent. We really want to get qualified in the top five so these night test sessions are so important. Tonight we figured we would get a good baseline for tomorrow. Tomorrow we are really going to go after it and run a low 3.80 run.”
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hines made an impressive run of 7.000 at 190.86 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to take the top spot in the class.
“We’ve got to get our V-Rods down the track as many times as possible and garner as much data as we can and it has been paying off today luckily,” said Hines. “We’re getting ready to make run number 10 and we’ve learned quite a bit. We started off running basically a 7.010 at 185 and now we are going seven flat, so we’ve learned some things with my bike. Our main focus today was working on my motorcycle because it hasn’t been running and hasn’t been up to our par as of late. I’ve probably had more laps down this track than any track in the country, so it is like coming home for me.”
Two –time Mac Tools U.S. Nationals winner Steve Johnson had the second quickest run in the two-wheel class with his pass of 7.013 at 191.40, followed closely by Jerry Savoie and his pass of 7.054 at 188.28. Joe DeSantis rounded out the Pro Stock Motorcycle class with his run of 7.193 at 183.87.
NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series drivers Danny Rowe posted an impressive run of 6.058 at 238.43, while Troy Coughlin’s quickest pass of the day was a 6.237 at 235.89.