Team DSR ready for season opener

Led by the three Top Fuel teams which all recorded runs in the 3.76 range, the seven Don Schumacher Racing teams came away from six days of winter testing poised to begin the upcoming NHRA Full Throttle drag racing season in the hunt for championships.

Antron Brown

Antron Brown, in the Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster, at 3.762 and Spencer Massey, in the Prestone/FRAM dragster, at 3.766 had their quickest runs, while Tony “the Sarge” Schumacher, in the U.S. Army dragster, ran a 3.763 lap, all of which bettered the 3.771-second E.T. national record.

The four DSR Funny Car teams did not reach record numbers, but did make it down the track well below the 4.10-second barrier, all recording at least one pass in the 4.07 range.

Matt Hagan

Matt Hagan, who finished second in the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car championship, broke in a new DSR-developed car, like three of the DSR Funny Car drivers, during the tests. Matt posted a 4.05 run along with a couple of 4.08s as he got used to the new wheels.

“It may be a new car, but it acts and feels the same, if not a little bit better than the old car,” said Hagan, who, like all the DSR drivers, heads into the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals, the 2011 season opener Feb. 24-27 in Pomona, Calif., full of optimism. “This was a good test session, the new car seems to work well and I got to knock off some of my off-season rust.”

Jack Beckman

Jack Beckman’s Valvoline Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car was the lone carry-over machine from 2010, when he finished fourth in the standings. It was the same car because it was new in June, a mid-season replacement. Here his runs included a 4.05, 4.06, 4.08 and three 4.10s.

“What you want to know is did all your educated guesses [in modifying and tweaking] add up and give you the time slip, a run, which makes a lot of sense,” explained the veteran driver. “We had things to work on and we did. So far, so good.”

Ron Capps

The NAPA Auto Parts team started the testing with its off-season modified 2010 car, which will serve as a backup to the new 2011 Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, which features some radical new design elements and components never before seen in this class. Ron Capps got the older car down the track at 4.08 and 4.11, then after several abbreviated shake down runs, the new car came into its own.

“This car is really unique, with design features never seen in the Funny Car class before,” Capps said. “But, of course, I can’t talk about them and possibly help the folks we are trying to beat.

“It felt better each time we ran,” he explained about getting used to the new setup. “It really felt good during those first full 1,000-foot runs of a solid 4.15 seconds and then the blistering 4.075 and 4.081 runs!”

Johnny Gray

For an all new team, a new driver who had not been in a Funny Car for five years and a crew chief who had not worked on one in about the same amount of time, the testing was critical. And it took Johnny Gray until the fourth day of testing to make a complete run, turning in a 4.12 in the Service Central Funny Car. But once this barrier was breached, race-winning quick runs followed for the Lee Beard-tuned Dodge Charger R/T: 4.10, 4.056, 4.083 and 4.084!

“We had a few glitches, but once we worked them out, we took off,” said Gray. “We aim to spoil a lot of drivers’ weekends this season and surprise some people along the way.”

Spencer Massey

Massey sat out the 2010 season after a rookie-of-the-year campaign in 2009. The 28-year-old Texan was anxious for this round of testing to get more laps under his belt before taking on the Top Fuel competition in Pomona. And he could not have been more pleased with the numbers posted here, including: 3.78, 3.78, 3.76, 3.79 and 3.78.

“I’m ready for Pomona; I’m ready to go racing again,” he said. “We had high expectations about what this car could run and obviously the week in Florida has proven just how good the Prestone/FRAM team is at preparing this car. And working with this team is great. I feel like we’ve been together for a full season.”

Brown came to testing on a positive note – having won the final race of 2010 on the way to fourth place in the Top Fuel championship – and he was looking to continue in the same vein. And with the exception a tire-spinning session, his full runs were sub 3.8: 3.78, 3.78, 3.79, 3.76, 3.76 and 3.77!

“We made a lot changes since last year,” said Brown. “All of that new stuff is obviously working out and we are getting real consistent. Being consistent it what winning drag racing is all about. There is one way to describe how the changes we have made have worked – flawlessly!”

Runner up in the 2010 Top Fuel championship, Schumacher wants nothing more than to be back on top. Florida testing allowed Tony and the U.S. Army team to shake out any bugs from changes made during the off season. And the Top Fuel driver with the most wins in NHRA history responded with runs down the strip including 3.78, 3.78, 3.76, 3.79, 3.77, and 3.77.

“We’re ready to go,” said the seven-time world champion. “We had a terrific week of testing in Florida and we can’t wait to get to Pomona. I certainly was happy with the way the car performed in Florida. We were quick and fast the majority of the time, which was fantastic!”

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