CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 3, 2017) This week the primary nitro teams on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing circuit pulled up their bootstraps, loaded the trucks, and made their way to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix, AZ. We’re one week away from the start of 2017 season and teams are putting in their best efforts to fine tune their setups in what’s being dubbed the “Nitro Spring Training.”
The first of three days of testing saw drivers from the top teams make at least one run. The pilots and crewmen of Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars from top teams such as Don Schumacher Racing, John Force Racing, and Kalitta Motorsports were seen shaking off the rust that has built up since the Finals in November at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The only one-car teams that made an appearance on Thursday were CAPCO Racing, Tim Wilkerson Racing, and Clay Millican Racing.
Untested setups, too much ambition, intentional early shut-offs, and the unknown seemed to get the best of everyone for most of the day. Full, clean passes that were made can be counted on one hand. Antron Brown led the charge with his second pass of the day at 3.701 @ 323.97 mph. Fellow DSR stablemate, Matt Hagan threw down a 3.955 run but the horsepower was lacking as his speed was only 281.25 mph.
Overall the day was filled with the sights, sounds, and smells that have been missing from our lives for the last 3 months. Seeing new drivers in the pro ranks, returning faces, ever-changing paint schemes, fast runs, and maybe not-so-fast passes are what preseason testing is all about. This 4-day glimpse into the 2017 season will provide much insight into who will hit the drag strip running next week in Pomona and who will be struggling to catch up.