Antron Brown, Robert Hight lead first day of NHRA testing

Photo courtesy: Roger Richards: CompetitionPlus.com

Unfortunately for the Top Fuel community, Antron Brown hasn’t lost a step over the offseason.

During first-day testing at the NHRA Nitro Spring Training event outside of Phoenix, Az., the three-time champion only needed two runs to establish the Matco Tools dragster is the team to beat in 2017.

Brown stopped the Wild Horse Motorsports Park timers at 3.701 seconds at 323.97. His first run of the season was 3.77 seconds.

“It’s Day One of testing, but the good part is getting the cobwebs broke out,” Brown said. “The guys didn’t skip a beat, but when you don’t drive one of these monsters for two months and you get back in, I can honestly tell you when I stepped on the gas pedal and I looked away from the tree, and I looked down the racetrack, usually I can see the 60’ clock cone going by, by the time I caught up with the race car I saw the 330’ cone.

“So, when you get back in and you’re on a low .70 run, and we shut off and went .75 though the first pass, I mean it definitely caught my attention. But by the third run we made a really good run, like a .701. And the track is plenty good. There’s still more out there. But we made a really good, good quality run. I tell you what, it gives you a little confidence boost going into tomorrow.”

Nipping at Brown’s heels was teammate Tony Schumacher, second quickest with a 3.705. Brittany Force was third with a 3.769.

Robert Hight’s willingness to disobey an order from his crew chief Mike Neff made him Thursday’s top Funny Car in testing.

Hight, on his opening run of 2017, drove his Auto Club of Southern California-sponsored Camaro SS Funny Car to a 3.886 elapsed time at 302.75.

“We came out of the box swinging,” Hight said. “It was nice; Mike Neff decided to leave the car like we finished the year with. This way we already had an established baseline to begin testing new things with. He also told me to go only to half-track.

“On that first run of the season, the car is way out ahead of you. It feels like it is marching, and hauling the mail. I didn’t want to lift. I went down a little further than half-track and shut it off. That’s why it only ran 302. I think I shut it off and three-and-a-half seconds. It still ran an .88.

“It was on a good run, and was likely going to be in the mid-3.80s. This track has a lot of bite. It’s really good, and you will see some low 3.80s before we are finished.”

Hight’s teammate Courtney Force drove her Advance Auto Parts-sponsored Camaro to the second quickest lap with a 3.894. Tommy Johnson Jr. ran a 3.904.

Testing resumes Friday morning at 9 a.m., MST.

Thursday’s best ET’s:

Funny Car:

Robert Hight – 3.886

Courtney Force – 3.894

Tommy Johnson Jr. – 3.904

Matt Hagan – 3.95

Alexis DeJoria – 4.00

Ron Capps – 4.01

Jack Beckman – 4.03

J.R. Todd – 4.03

Top Fuel:

Antron Brown – 3.701

Tony Schumacher – 3.705

Brittany Force – 3.769

Steve Torrence – 3.82

Troy Coughlin – 4.08

Leah Pritchett – 4.29

Clay Millican – 4.72

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Bobby Bennett is the Publisher/Editor of CompetitionPlus.com, a leading independent online drag racing magazine, since 1999. For the latest in dragster news worldwide, visit www.competitionplus.com or follow on Twitter @competitionplus