Thunder could be heard throughout the valley in Chandler, Arizona, as nitro-infused, supercharged HEMI® machines pounded the pavement at Wild Horse Motorsports Park. Known among racers as the Nitro Spring Training 2018, this event is a pre-season test that allows the drivers, crews and teams to “get back into the groove” before heading to Pomona, California, and kicking off for the NHRA season at one of drag racing’s grandest traditions: the Winternationals. The fabled Auto Club Raceway facility is known for its outstanding traction, smooth surface, and record performances.

During testing, Matt Hagan in the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car had one of quickest runs with a 3.879-second pass. Hagan, who hails from  Christiansburg, Virginia, had no problem climbing back into the seat of his 11,000 horsepower supercharged HEMI® machine and blasting down the strip at Wild Horse Park.

“So far the car has gone down the track every time we wanted it to,” said Hagan after edging current champion Robert Hight for Thursday’s performance honors by one-thousandth of a second.

“Being able to get behind the wheel and getting a feel for the car again and even though this is my tenth season behind the wheel, it all becomes routine,” Hagan, a two-time champion like Hight, said. “But, you still have to make those passes to get yourself sharp. It’s just a great feeling to get behind the wheel again.”

In the Top Fuel ranks, Leah Pritchett was knocking out the cobwebs out of her dragster and got back in the swing of things during the Nitro Spring Training test session.

“This is a lot different than last year and we just wanted to get on the track and put in the car what we knew would work, and it worked out really well,” said Pritchett.

“It’s about 10-12 degrees warmer than last year’s test session and every one’s numbers reflect that, but for us specifically, we have four areas of interest that we are working on hardcore. Anywhere from ignition, clutch management, to our blower program, and including our injectors. So, you can’t test all of those things at one time, which is why we’re trying to make as many laps as possible per day. We’re seeing progress, and that’s a sigh of relief for us.”

The rest of the DSR Mopar team, including Ron Capps, Jack Beckman, and Tommy Johnson JR., are also fine-tuning their Charger R/T Funny Cars at the Nitro Spring Training.  They know their competition will be tougher this year, but they’re all ready to claim an NHRA World Championship for Mopar.