Racing andÂ Don Schumacher Racing last year is still alive and well. Yesterday the Al-Anabi Top Fuel car of Larry Dixon posted a 3.767 ET (elapsed time) at 322 mph. Early in the test season on Wednesday, Larry Dixon posted another stellar run with a 3.763 ET. Tony Schumacher bested him early Wednesday with a 3.759 ET at 318 mph. He followed that up later in the day with a 3.753 ET at 322.88 mph.
A few of the drivers discussed the off season, the test at PBIR and their expectations for the 2010 season.
Tony Schumacher, driver of the Don Schumacher Racing U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
On the test session at PBIR: â€œItâ€™s great. Itâ€™s way better than what we normally get. Generally speaking when we show up at Phoenix weâ€™ve got to run side by side with other cars and we only get to run when they want us to run, and weâ€™re testing, thatâ€™s not how we want to do it. We come down to a place like this, itâ€™s an amazing facility. Itâ€™s just as nice as any of the other tracks that we race on and we get to fast.
Expectations for the 2010 season: â€œThere will be good battles. Thereâ€™s about 10 good cars out there that are going to battle every weekend. Itâ€™s what you show up for. No one out here is showing up for an easy battle, weâ€™re all showing up to dig deep and to battle it out.â€
Morgan Lucas, driver of the Morgan Lucas Racing Geico Powersports Top Fuel Dragster
On the test session at PBIR: â€œNow that weâ€™re into our second day of testing Iâ€™m really, really impressed with the facility here. The security and personnel here are very nice, the surface of the track is very smooth and itâ€™s got a lot of grip. Weâ€™re running as good of times that we ran at any point last year and it gives you a lot of confidence going into the season. Itâ€™s nice to go somewhere where you can trust what youâ€™re going to have and know that youâ€™re going to learn something and address it. You never want to go into a race season, especially one 23 races long with your tail between your legs wondering whatâ€™s really going to happen when you get there.â€
Expectations for 2010 : â€œOur main goals are just to go out and minimize first round losses. Thatâ€™s what we did last year and we ended up winning a few races out of that. You have to put yourself in a position to win and weâ€™re going to have to pick up our performance a little bit to keep up with the Schumacherâ€™s and the Alan Johnson cars, theyâ€™re running over 320 mph right now at 1,000 ft. and thatâ€™s very impressive. Thatâ€™s something weâ€™re trying to pick up on and get that extra ET out of these cars. Getting these cars on the track, being more consistent and not making mistakes to beat ourselves, thatâ€™s really what weâ€™re looking at. Hopefully we can go out there and finish top 5 this year and chase the championship and put ourselves in those good spots, thatâ€™s what weâ€™re all about.
Cory McClenathan, driver of the Don Schumacher Racing FRAM Top Fuel Dragster
On the test session at PBIR: â€œWeâ€™re really happy. We knew last year after we came to PBIR that we were not going to go to Phoenix or Vegas, we were just going to come here and wrap it all up in a weeksâ€™ time. We made sure that Alan Johnson and all of the other teams, and everyone at DSR, really wanted to do this. We knew that in a years time the track would be that much better, and weâ€™ve definitely proved that. Weâ€™ve ran a 3.77 ET now at 321 mph, itâ€™s just right off the tick at being record runs. So we know that this is what weâ€™re looking for. I think weâ€™ll be very comfortable testing through Thursday and be able to leave here and go to Pomona and go racing.â€
Expectations for 2010: â€œThe only thing I want to do is finish three spots better than I did last year. That would be the key thing. Itâ€™s one thing that NHRA has done, the point system, and what happens there has really changed things. Itâ€™s made it a real driverâ€™s game and itâ€™s made it good for the fans. To go into Pomona and know that you have a shot at the championship and end up fourth was a little bit alarming for me. But if you donâ€™t have that shot at it, whereâ€™s all the drama at? I want to see it where we are and itâ€™s exciting that way. Weâ€™re back with a fresh paint job and a whole new attitude and weâ€™re looking forward to it.â€
Ron Capps, driver of the Don Schumacher Racing NAPA Auto Parts Funny Car
On testing at PBIR: â€œItâ€™s going great. Last year was our first time here at PBIR and we enjoyed it so much. We had such a good time last year and the people were so good to us at the track that we would rather just spend our whole time down here getting ready for Pomona and that way the guys have time to go back to Indianapolis and get everything ready and then take the trucks and go to Pomona. Last year we were low ET for most of the test session, weâ€™d just love to have a race here. I just ran a 4.10 ET and I shut it off early and it was on a good run. The track is great, the people are great and the best part about it is the group of cars that are here. Itâ€™s a small enough group that youâ€™re not waiting long to run and itâ€™s all teams that you donâ€™t have to worry about strange things happening to the surface of the track. All in all itâ€™s been great, you look around the pit area and everyoneâ€™s smiling.â€
Expectations for 2010: â€œLast year when we left here I was pretty confident. We went to Pomona and we won, went to Phoenix and we won, and I feel the same way right now. (Crew chief) Ed McCulloch is the best. Heâ€™s got his game face on already and we just got here. Heâ€™s relaxed and heâ€™s excited about pushing the limits on our car and the NAPA guys have two brand new cars ready to run.
**Photo credit: Roger Richards**
Palm Beach International Raceway, formerly Moroso Motorsports Park, was purchased approximately eighteen months ago by a group of real estate and corporate investors. The newly re-branded and re-designed state-of-the-art venue is rapidly becoming one of the most popular raceways in the country for racers and spectators alike. As a leader in its operating form and function, PBIR seeks to provide its drivers with a higher level of challenge, excellence and opportunity. PBIR boasts three completely refurbished, exceptionally designed tracks, including a high-performance road course, an all-concrete drag strip and a 7/10â€™s mile karting track and new karting center. The technologically superior two-mile road course features some of the fastest and most challenging corners and straight-aways offered by any track in North America. PBIR is currently sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and the Indy Racing League (IRL) as a test facility and is pending certification by the FÃ©dÃ©ration Internationale de lâ€™Automobile (FIA), the governing body for many major racing events.