Testing Heats Up For U.S. Nationals

Tony Schumacher makes a run during testing at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. (Mark Schmidt photo)
Tony Schumacher makes a run during testing at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. (Mark Schmidt photo)
Tony Schumacher makes a run during testing at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. (Mark Schmidt photo)

CLERMONT, Ind. — Top Fuel standout Shawn Langdon wasn’t far off his track-record pace during Thursday’s second day of testing for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, as the Top Fuel points leader and 15-time Funny Car world champion John Force recorded the quickest passes at historic Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

NHRA teams utilized the second day of the two-day open test to prepare for the world’s most prestigious drag race, which will be held Aug. 28-Sept. 2 at the famed NHRA-owned multi-purpose motorsports facility that sits just west of downtown Indianapolis. The event, which will also feature the lucrative Traxxas Nitro Shootout, is the final race in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season and will be televised by ESPN2HD with more than 10 hours of coverage on Labor Day weekend.

Langdon, who set the track record at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis a year ago with a 3.740-second performance, laid down a standout run of 3.748 seconds at 325.77 mph in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster, a day after running a solid 3.802 on Wednesday. It’s an ideal situation for Langdon, who has four wins in 2013 and is seeking not only his first Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victory but his first world championship as well.

“The car has been strong lately and we’re just going to kind of take it from there and look at a couple of tweaks,” Langdon said. “We want to win the (Chevrolet Performance) U.S. Nationals as much as any race in the Countdown so we’re treating it all the same. They’re all big races and we’re treating all of them like that.”

Tony Schumacher also improved on his session from Wednesday, powering his 8,000-horsepower U.S. Army dragster to a run of 3.755 at 323.04. A nine-time winner at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the seven-time world champion is embracing the challenge that awaits next weekend when he will try to become the first driver to record 10 victories at drag racing’s most prestigious event.

“To have the chance, I think that plays into our benefit,” Schumacher said. “We’re better with the pressure on. That’s what our team has been great at. Right now we’ve got a good handle on the car and we’re making good calls.”

Antron Brown was third in his Matco Tools dragster with a time of 3.756 at 323.35, while Morgan Lucas posted the fourth-quickest time on Thursday with a run of 3.765 at 321.42 in his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster. Khalid alBalooshi was the fifth driver to reach the 3.70s, taking his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to the finish line in 3.769 at 321.65 and Spencer Massey, the most recent event winner, recorded a 3.802 at 318.09.

“We wanted to try a couple different things that aren’t big moves,” Lucas said. “The car is a lot closer to where we want it than at the beginning of the year, so we’re just trying to find different ways to run it in different conditions. For us, the most important thing is getting this GEICO car down the track as much as possible to give ourselves the best chances to try to pursue a championship.”

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