ENNIS, Texas – official release — NHRA photo — Courtney Force raced to the Funny Car qualifying lead Friday at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals with a track record performance at Texas Motorplex.
J.R. Todd (Top Fuel), Shane Gray (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) led their respective categories during round two of the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs near Dallas.
Force set both ends of the track record in her Traxxas Ford Mustang with a 4.039-second pass at 314.90 mph. She has three No. 1 qualifying positions this year and six in her 65-race career.
“Going into this race I was confident that we had a good car,” said Force. “To go out there and go to the No. 1 spot with our Traxxas team and run a number like that, is a good weekend so far. We still have tomorrow and it is going to down since we are running later in the day but I’m excited and proud of my team.”
In Top Fuel, Todd raced to the qualifying lead with a track record time of 3.761 at 317.87 in his Optima Batteries dragster. If the time holds, it will be Todd’s second consecutive No. 1 position in the Countdown playoffs.
“We were a little aggressive in Q1 and Q2,” said Todd, who was the No. 1 qualifier last weekend in Charlotte and will meet Spencer Massey in the quarterfinals of the delayed Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals tomorrow. “I felt there were a couple more cars that were going to run better than what we did, but you can never count out Connie (Kalitta, team owner) and James (Oberhofer, crew chief) and they are always loaded for bear when the conditions call for it and the track’s definitely good here this weekend.”
Gray led Pro Stock qualifying with a run of 6.577 at 209.88 in his Gray Manufacturing Chevy Camaro. Gray will meet Erica Enders-Stevens in the second round of Charlotte eliminations. Other Charlotte Pro Stock first round winners today included Dave Connolly, Jonathan Gray and Vincent Nobile.
“We wanted to make a couple of runs and see what happens,” said Gray. “I don’t think we were swinging for the fences by any means, but it all came together and it made a nice smooth run down there. It actually felt a little bit slow it was so smooth.”
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana Jr. led qualifying with a run of 6.855 at 194.63 on his Lucas Oil Products Buell. Arana Jr. also won his first round of eliminations for the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals. He will face Chaz Kennedy when eliminations continue on Saturday. Other PSM first round winners included Eddie Krawiec, Scotty Pollacheck, Andrew Hines, Matt Smith, Steve Johnson and Angie Smith.
“We made a swing for the tune-up and nailed it right on the head,” said Arana Jr. “We went right to the top in Q1. There was actually a little more we wanted to do, but we had to be conservative because we were going into round one of eliminations. We took away a little bit, and it stayed consistent on the line. I actually got lucky. The bike didn’t want to shift, and I kept pushing the button. Finally, when it hit the rev limiter, I was able to plug it in the next gear and stay ahead of him for the win.”