:::::: News ::::::

HANEY TO LONG: GET THAT LIGHTS OUT 9 CHECK READY FOR ME

The amount of smack talk between promoter Donald Long and driver/owner Keith Haney would rival any between an NFL wide receiver and the cornerback covering him.

And with Long's Lights Out 9 drag radial race approaching, the talk has reached a fever pitch. From cracks about each other's height to a song Long produced about Haney to Haney smack-talking Facebook videos, the two have taken pre-race promotion to new levels.

So what would Long do if he had to sign a winner's check over to Haney?

PRITCHETT TO RACE FULL FACTORY STOCK SHOWDOWN SCHEDULE

It’s shaping up to be a busy 2018 season for Leah Pritchett. In addition to the Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) star’s responsibilities behind the wheel of her Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Top Fuel Dragster, Pritchett will also steer a supercharged Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak in the full slate of 2018 SAM Tech NHRA Factory Stock Showdown events.

Pritchett’s 354-cubic-inch HEMI engine-powered Drag Pak will be prepped and maintained by the DSR team, led by crew chief and new DSR employee Kevin Helms. Helms brings years of experience driving and tuning a Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak to his new role, including a 2015 NHRA Stock Eliminator World Championship and 2017 NHRA Stock and Super Stock runner-up finishes.

CANDID CRUZ, BROOKS MAKE BIG CHANGES FOR 2018

 

If candor counts for anything, two-time champion Cruz Pedregon and crew chief Aaron Brooks are the Funny Car leaders. Consider some of their preseason confessions:

Pedregon:  “We’ve done some analytics and the elephant in the room has been our inconsistent runs.”

Brooks: “Last year was a little bit of a beat-down. It made me feel pretty stupid for a while.”

Pedregon: “Talk is cheap, but I feel like we’ll be in the mix this year.”

LOSING A CLOSE TITLE DOESN'T AFFECT ONLY THE DRIVER

 

Steve Torrence understandably was monumentally disappointed that he didn’t close the 2017 season as the Top Fuel championship. He won eight times in 11 final-round appearances, was 56-16 on race day, led the standings on three separate occasions following 10 of 24 races, and won both the U.S. Nationals and Traxxas Nitro Shootout with all the momentum heading into the Countdown. But a massive crash at Dallas, from which he was blessed to escape unhurt, set his program back at the worst possible. He battled gamely but never recaptured the magic and watched Brittany Force take the title.

The emotional toll takes time to erase, And that’s true, as well, for Torrence’s loyal and hard-working Capco Contractors Dragster crew.  

Clutch specialist Gary Pritchett, whose wife Leah Pritchett dogged Torrence for Top Fuel supremacy all season long from the Don Schumacher Racing camp, said after the 2017 experience, “We’ve got something to prove this year.”

A YEAR AFTER WIDOWMAKER HEART ATTACK, LEE RETURNS TO FUNNY CAR

 

The way Paul Lee sees it; he's playing with house money.

In December 2016, Lee, who had just been announced as a third driver for Kalitta Motorsports, suffered as severe of a heart attack as imaginable. He was diagnosed with a 100-percent blockage of the left anterior descending artery, otherwise known as the Widowmaker. 

Such a condition generally results in dire results.

PRITCHETT LED TOP FUEL CLASS AT NITRO SPRING TRAINING

Leah Pritchett unofficially ran the fastest Top Fuel pass on Saturday at NHRA Nitro Spring Training at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park located outside of Phoenix. The 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to the facility for the NHRA Arizona Nationals Feb. 23 -25 for the second event of the series.

Pritchett piloted her Mopar/Papa John’s dragster to a pass of 3.664-seconds at 334.73 mph. Last season, she set both ends of the track record at the NHRA Arizona Nationals and is seeking to reset it again in a couple of weeks.

TERRY BRIAN TOP FUEL LICENSING IN PHOENIX

 

While all the powerhouse Top Fuel and Nitro Funny Car teams are testing at NHRA’s Nitro Spring Training this week at Wild Horse Motorsports Park in Phoenix, Ariz., Terry Brian is on the opposite end of the spectrum.

The Texas driver is going to use the test session to get his Top Fuel license.

Brian has been racing a fuel altered since 2011, competing in the Outlaw Fuel Altered Association. He owns his own business, ProFab Custom Welding & Fabrication, serving Overton, Tyler, East Texas and Western Louisiana.

C. FORCE TOPS FUNNY CAR CLASS AT NITRO SPRING TRAINING

Courtney Force powered to the top of the Funny Car class at Friday’s NHRA Nitro Spring Training at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park located outside of Phoenix. The 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to this facility for the NHRA Arizona Nationals Feb. 23 -25 for the second event of the series.

Force drove her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS to a pass of 3.839-seconds at 329.99 mph. She is seeking to capitalize on her career-best seven No. 1 qualifiers last season. Two-time world champion Matt Hagan made a pass of 3.851 at 330.72 in his Mopar Express Dodge Charger R/T and teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. ran a 3.884 at 326.16.

MID-WEST PRO MOD SERIES OPENER MOVED TO TEXAS MOTORPLEX

Following an impressive display of cooperation between track operators and promoters, the Frankenstein Engine Dynamics Mid-West Pro Mod Series (MWPMS) has officially moved its Mar. 2-3, 2018 season opener to the Texas Motorplex, at Ennis, TX, just south of Dallas. The MWPMS was originally scheduled to open the brand-new Xtreme Raceway Park (XRP) in nearby Trumbull, but ongoing construction prompted XRP owner Clyde Scott and facility manager Gaylen Smith to reach out to Motorplex General Manager Andy Carter with the suggestion for a change of venue.

“We’re probably more than 80 percent done, and really, I think we will be ready by March, but this is Texas and you never know what the weather might bring so we just thought it would be safer and smarter to call Andy and see if he could take over the race for us,” Smith explained. “I’ve known Andy a long time and we’ve always had a good relationship with everyone over there. They’re NHRA and we’re IHRA, but we were very careful with scheduling this year to make sure we weren’t putting our big races on top of each other and fortunately he had that weekend available and agreed to help us out.”

BROWN, HAGAN LEAD PRESEASON TESTING THURSDAY AT PHOENIX

Antron Brown came into this preseason testing event at Arizona’s Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park last year confident his long-intact team had the power to steamroll to a third straight and fourth overall NHRA Top Fuel championship. As first Leah Pritchett challenged his reign, then Steve Torrence and finally Brittany Force followed suit, Brown faded to fourth in the final standings.

His return to Chandler, Ariz., near Phoenix, this week produced a class-best elapsed time of 3.714 seconds at 328.46 mph Thursday.

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