Any rust Spencer Massey might have accumulated by sitting out the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle season appears to have been knocked off the new driver of the Prestone/FRAM Top Fuel Dragster during a strong preseason testing session at Palm Beach International Raceway.
The 28-year-old Fort Worth native consistently put together runs amongst the quickest of his career, including his first 3.76-second lap (among five runs in the 3.7 range), indicating new driver and veteran team are working well together in preparation for the Feb. 24-27 Winternationals, the 2011 season-opening race, in Pomona, Calif.
“I'm ready for Pomona; I'm ready to go racing again,” said the 2009 Top Fuel rookie of the year. “We had high expectations about what this car could run and obviously the week in Florida has proven just how good the Prestone/FRAM team is at preparing this car. And working with this team is great. I feel like we've been together for a full season.”
Phil Shuler, co-crew chief, echoed Massey's sentiments, “Spencer is really good at what he does, which makes it easy for us to adjust to a new driver. We've had an easy transition including good tests in December and now [in February] for driver, crew and crew chief.”
The December program introduced Massey to the car and team which had achieved a third-place finish in the 2010 championship.
“I wasn't completely comfortable in the car during the first session,” he said. “The guys raised the roll cage, made some other adjustments and now I'm 100 percent comfortable. I can sit back and drive it just like I'm driving down the freeway, that's how comfortable I am in this racecar.”
Both Massey and Shuler agree the testing sessions overall went well, without any major incidents or setbacks.
“We've made 25 runs between the two sessions and it has gone smoothly,” said Shuler. “Since the third run, Spencer has gone straight as a string.”
“We've been testing some things, and the results show we've made moves in the right direction,” Massey added. “We've had hiccups here and there, but that's racing.”
Massey and the Prestone/FRAM team, as well as the other six Don Schumacher Racing teams which participated in the February testing, which culminated in four rounds of side-by-side runs over two evenings during the first PRO Winter Warm-up. The event – which included drivers like DSR teammates Tony Schumacher, Antron Brown, Matt Hagan, Jack Beckman, Ron Capps and Johnny Gray, as well as others like John Force, Brandon Bernstein, Robert Hight and Cruz Pedregon – had the feel of a regular-season race, with heavy fan attendance.
“It was a great way to end the test sessions and get ready for the season,” said Massey. “The biggest difference, for me, was staging – you have to consider the other driver when you stage in a side-by-side run, which we do for every round of qualifying and racing.
“Oh, and we ran really well in that last round [3.78], which is not a bad way to go to Pomona.”