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Five things we learned from NHRA preseason testing

We learned a lot at the annual preseason test session in Phoenix. Here are five of them, with some burnouts and runs to satiate your appetite, too.
03 Feb 2019
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Feature

Happy Super Bowl Sunday. Let's talk some NHRA Drag Racing. I know you have a lot to do today, so I'll keep it brief. Let's talk about the five biggest takeaways from NHRA preseason testing and how they will affect teams as we head towards the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona. By the way, have you gotten your tickets yet? Some of my friends in the ticketing department would love for you to hang out with us. 

1. Steve Torrence might win 16 races this year

Okay, that's hyperbole, but damn did the Capco Contractors team look good in its brief time testing in Phoenix. A 3.689 right off the trailer on Thursday set the key for testing ... a key no one else could reach. David Grubnic, now tuning Brittany Force's dragster, noted he's a couple hundredths behind Richard Hogan right now. Keep an eye on that friendly rivalry this year -- because those guys are. 

2. It's very hard to recover from the departure of big-time talent

See: Brian Corradi leaving Antron Brown in 2018. See: David Grubnic leaving Clay Millican in 2019. That doesn't mean it's impossible, but this stuff is hard. So, stop taking top-level crew chiefs and drivers for granted while other teams struggle. New crew chief Mike Kloeber deserves some time to get everything set for Millican, but the floor for this team is certainly lower than it was a year ago. 

3. Kalitta Motorsports looks stronger than ever

The Funny Car contingent led by J.R. Todd and crew chiefs Todd Smith and Jon Oberhofer looked even better than last year. It's important not to overreact to a test session, but the Yella Fellas absolutely have room to improve this year. That's not a criticism so much as it is exciting for a team that looked great at the back end of last year. Shawn Langdon also looked terrific with Del Worsham on board with Nicky Boninfante. Look out for those guys to get a win early. 

4. Riding a Harley-Davidson isn't as easy as it looks

Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines are underrated as riders. Yes, they have great equipment. No, they do not lead the class in reaction times. But those Harleys area not easy to ride and they make it look effortless. Angelle Sampey is going to figure it out (writer's opinion), but there will be growing pains. She looked much better at the end of testing than at the beginning, and that's the kind of progression you need to see. 

5. John Force Racing is off to a great start

Robert Hight, Brittany Force and John Force all enjoyed great test sessions. There are new crew chiefs on the latter two of those cars (David Grubnic and Brian Corradi, respectively) and both have reason to be happy. Both Forces ran very well, especially the 2017 Top Fuel champion. It seems like Grubnic has been able to work with the new John Force Racing parts and pieces successfully thus far -- that doesn't mean things will be easy right away in Pomona ... but it's a start.