CONCORD, N.C. — Both Courtney Force and Clay Millican started off strong in their quests for back-to-back No. 1 qualifiers, leading the opening day of qualifying for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.
Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock), defending champion Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) and Troy Coughlin (Pro Mod) also topped their respective classes following the first two rounds of drills on Friday.
The event is the sixth of 24 races on the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
Force powered her way to the track elapsed time record, making a pass of 3.851 seconds at 323.27 mph in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro to lead a 19-car grid in Funny Car after two rounds of qualifying.
She was part of a one-two-three sweep by John Force Racing on Friday, with Robert Hight and her father John qualifying second and third, respectively.
“This is an important track because it’s four-wide,” said Courtney Force. “It’s so crazy from a driver’s perspective, but it’s so much fun. This track makes you a better driver. People will make mistakes, but you have to be on your A-game.”
“To be one, two and three and to be here in North Carolina, which is the home state for my sponsor Advance Auto Parts … the pressure is on a little bit,” Force added. “I’m really happy with the run; I’m really happy to see that our car was actually there on Q1 anyway, even though it turned left and didn’t give us the time we’d hoped for. I actually feel like we’ve got a pretty consistent car this weekend. It’s an exciting start, for sure.”
Hight’s pass of 3.873 at 333.91 mph in his Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro set the track speed record, while John Force went down the track in 3.889 seconds at 323.43 mph.
Defending Funny Car champion Ron Capps was sixth on Friday, while Dave Richards, Cruz Pedregon and Jonnie Lindberg are outside the starting field with two rounds of qualifying remaining.
Millican’s Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster led the way among the Top Fuel contingent, making a pass of 3.716 seconds at 325.77 mph to lead a 17-car field at the ‘Bellagio of Drag Strips’.
He will look to hold the position and garner his sixth-career No. 1 qualifier after two more rounds of qualifying on Saturday.
“Really and truly, it’s the team working on consistency,” said Millican in regards to what his team has found that’s made them so fast in recent weeks. “Last year, we wanted to run 3.6-second (passes). This year, we said we wanted to take a little step back but get down the track more and it’s paid off.”
“It’s just crazy that now we’re at the front of the field. If it’s 100 degrees tomorrow, I’m OK with that … because that means we’ll probably stay No. 1.”
Doug Kalitta’s Mac Tools dragster was second through two rounds, running 3.718 at 322.73 mph, while defending and three-time Top Fuel champion Antron Brown was third (3.720/328.06)
Fourth-place Steve Torrence posted the fastest top end speed on Friday, with a mark of 329.10 mph.
Luigi Novelli is the lone driver not currently inside the Top Fuel field, having issues on both of his Friday passes.
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