BROWNSBURG, Ind. – Top Fuel driver J.R. Todd and Funny Car championship contender Johnny Gray put together the quickest passes during Wednesday’s first day of testing for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at historic Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
NHRA teams utilized the first 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 Shootouts, 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.
Driving Brandon Bernstein’s Protect The Harvest/MAV TV dragster, Todd powered the 8,000-horsepower hot rod to an impressive run of 3.786 seconds at 317.57 mph. Bernstein will be back behind the wheel for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals next weekend, but Todd was able to make valuable passes in the dragster during Wednesday’s test session and was the only driver to dip into the 3.70s. Todd, who will be driving a third Top Fuel entry for Bob Vandergriff Racing next week, also went as quick as 3.880 at 261.98 in that dragster on Wednesday.
“That was way cool and my career best,” Todd said of the 3.786 pass. “It kind of hurt itself down track, but it was running really strong early on and could have been better than the .78. We are running our car with Bob Vandergriff, and our numbers were similar to what Brandon’s numbers were and what it ran today.
“I’m really happy with my team as well and what (crew chief) Mike Guger is doing. With not running all year I still think we can come out and contend with these guys. But that was a heck of a run for Brandon’s crew that is for sure.”
The pair of Al-Anabi Racing standouts followed Todd, as Khalid alBalooshi, who clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship last weekend in Brainerd, went 3.801 at 321.27. Points leader Shawn Langdon, who has won four times in 2013 and will be seeking his first Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victory, went 3.802 at 321.96, putting the Al-Anabi team in a good spot heading into the biggest drag race of the year.
“We’re just doing a little bit of fine-tuning right now,” said Langdon, who broke the track record at last year’s event with a 3.740. “We feel confident with the way the car has been performing. It’s been running very well and we’re happy with the results, but there are just a couple little things we’re trying to fix. Overall the car has been strong lately and we’re just making a couple of tweaks to get ready for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, as well as the Countdown.”