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The latest update as of February 2, 2018

NHRA Spring Training starts at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park - THURSDAY

Judging by the pictures we've received from ace photog and good friend, Bob Snyder, it looks like a nice time to be in Phoenix for the unofficial/official kickoff of the 2018 NHRA drag racing season. Lots of race cars, new faces, new paint schemes - actually wraps nowadays - and some rather stout numbers coming out of the Arizona desert facility. We'll be working as time permits this weekend to bring photos and reports from the "Spring Training" event.

Remember to refresh this page each time you visit - and you really should come back to see the latest news and photos from Phoenix - throughout the weekend. To see full-size images, click on the smaller images on the page.

Erica Enders PS - 6.559 - 210.57 --- Alex Laughlin PS - 6.590 - 209.04

As you can see from the scoreboard insets, two-time World Champion Erica Enders led the gas-burning brigade with a very nice 6.55 - 210 mph pass, while Alex Laughlin slotted in behind her with a solid 6.59 at 209 mph. Sporting the "Speed Society" colours that he first ran at last year's World Finals, Laughlin presents a much-needed new look in the Pro Stock class.

Robert Hight FC - 3.880 - 324.05 --- Shawn Langdon FC

Moving on up to the nitro floppers, 2017 World Champion Robert Hight picked up almost where he left off last season with a very quick out-of-the-box 3.88 at 324 mph, while Funny Car rookie Shawn Langdon didn't fare so well on his first pass, with hard tire shake, clocking in at 8-seconds.

Robert Hight FC - 3.880 - 324.05 --- Leah Pritchett TF - 3.740 - 308.28

Here's a couple of the fast - actually not always as fast as the floppers - cars, with Steve Torrence opening the season with a 3.77 at only 268 mph. Shortly after that blast, Leah Pritchett came out in her new Pennzoil-Army colours (bye bye Papa John's) and put down a very respectable 3.74 at 308 mph to start her test week.

Courtney Force FC --- Cruz Pedregon FC

Courtney Force (left) began the season with a jarring wakeup call, with hard tire shake and a timeslip that read 7.49, as new tuner Brian Corradi began to acclimatize himself to the JFR (John Force Racing) camp. With Snap-On Tools extending their long running sponsorship for another three years, Cruz Pedregon (right) rolled into Phoenix ready to rock and prepare for much improved results in 2018. His first lap didn't quite match up to his expectations, with a 5-second time showing up on the scoreboards.

JR Todd FC --- Ron Capps FC

Not much to report on this pair either, as they didn't factor on the top run charts on their first attempts. JR Todd left, and "RunnerUp" Ron Capps on the right, both shut off early, but Todd did manage to break into the 3's later in the day with a 3.995 pass.

Antron Brown TF --- Tony Schumacher TF - 3.717 - 330.15

Don Schumacher Racing teammates, Antron Brown left, and Tony Schumacher, right, both carded some strong numbers on their first runs of the new season. Brown posted an early shutoff 3.816, while Schumacher called that and raised him a full tenth at 3.717, coupled with the first 330 mph pass of the day, to show he was serious about contending for his first championship since 2014. Lagter in the day, Brown leapfrogged over "The Sarge" with a best of the day 3.714 at 328.46 mph.

Vincent Nobile PS --- Deric Kramer PS

Two Pro Stock regulars who didn't have much impact on the scoreboards on Thursday were Vincent Nobile (shaking off the rust after sitting out the Countdown portion of the 2017 NHRA schedule) and Deric Kramer on the right. Nobile was "credited" with a 6.271 on one pass, but the unanimous consensus of the timeslip was "bogus". Kramer did put down a solid 6.64 later in the day.

Jonnie Lindberg FC - 3.960 - 298.04 --- Bob Tasca FC

Two fresh new looks from the nitro flopper contingent saw Jonnie Lindberg, left, put down a 3.96 at 298 in his first pass of testing in Jim "The Mad Scientist" Head's always experimental car. On the right, returning to full-time competition with a new sponsorship from Ford, Bob Tasca III was shut off with a fuel leak in his first go-round.

Tommy Johnson FC - 3.938 - 298.67 --- Matt Hagan FC - 3.940 - 281.19

A pair of DSR stablemates, Tommy Johnson on the left, and Matt Hagan (right), showed they were ready to rumble with two early shutoff runs in the 3's. Johnson's solid 3.93 at 298 mph was nearly eclipsed by Hagan's almost-as-quick 3.94 at just 281 mph. Two very good starts to the season for the veteran racers.

Bo Butner PS - 6.602 - 209.46 --- Alex Laughlin PS - 6.580 - 209.10

Defending World Champion Bo Butner opened his 2018 account with a solid, but unspectacular 6.602 pass, but was overshadowed by an ever-improving Alex Laughlin, who moved into second spot on the test "ladder" with a strong 6.580 clocking.

Mike Salinas TF --- Richard Townsend FC

A rather odd pairing here, with Mike Salinas on the left, preparing for his first season of full-time NHRA competition. Mike earned his Top Fuel license nearly ten years ago, and made his NHRA debut in 2011, and finally decided to join the tour full time after qualifying at all seven events he attended in 2017. On the right side is the still unwrapped "Nitroholic" of veteran nostalgia flopper racer Richard Townsend who made two runs (a 4.63 and a 5.88) towards upgrading his license to "big show" status.

Jeg Coughlin PS - 6.619 - 208.52 --- Bo Butner PS

After a tire shake afflicted first pass, Jeg Coughlin rolled to a decent 6.61 at just 208 mph on his second attempt, while Bo Butner went in the wrong direction, slowing from his earlier 6.60 to a 6.62 on his second lap.

Doug Kalitta TF - 3.729 - 315.34 --- Richie Crampton TF

After an early shutoff in his first attempt, Doug Kalitta stayed on the pedal to nearly the finish line, clicking it just a tad soon with a very good 3.729 at only 315 mph. On the right side, in the new look "Kalitta Air" Top Fuel car, Richie Crampton improved from a 5-second first pass to a 4.27 - still well off the pace - as he and tuner Connie Kalitta sort out a new combination.

Tommy Johnson FC - 3.913 - 312.78 --- Matt Hagan FC - 3.879 - 330.72

On the left side, Tommy Johnson improved slightly over his earlier 3.93 pass with a 3.913 at 312 mph, while Matt Hagan jumped up BIG time with a quick 3.879 e.t., coupled with the top speed of the day at 330.72 mph.

That's all from Thursday's first open test day at Phoenix's Wild Horse Pass Motorports Park. We're hoping to see Friday's photos before the end of the day, and after that, there's still two more days of action before the alky cars hit the strip.

John Force FC

Hold on a minute. Where's all the JFR (John Force Racing) cars? Yes, there was one shot of Robert Hight near the top of the page, but where are Courtney, Brittany, or John. OKay, here's one shot of the "Old Truck Driver" hisself, John Force, launching into his 45th (or thereabouts) season of nitro drag racing. He ended the day with best numbers of 3.963 at 305.22 mph.