JOLIET, Ill. — official release — NHRA photo — Brittany Force piloted to the provisional No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel during Friday qualifying at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals.
Robert Hight (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were qualifying leaders at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at Route 66 Raceway.
Force ran a 3.791-second pass at 324.51 mph in her Castrol EDGE dragster to claim the top spot after the first two qualifying sessions. Force, the reigning Auto Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award winner, has started in the top spot twice this season and will have two more attempts to secure a third top starting position.
“I was excited,” said Force, the first and only Top Fuel driver in John Force Racing history. “It felt like a quick run. I felt it pull me to the centerline so I never thought we were going to be No. 1. But we got it down there. When I jumped out at the other end I was excited and just crossing my fingers it would hold.”
Force, who claimed her first career No. 1 qualifier at the NHRA Kansas Nationals in Topeka earlier this season, held off Spencer Massey for the top spot. Massey, driver of the Battery Extender powered by Schumacher Electric dragster, has two wins on the season and ran a 3.804 at 324.83 for the No. 2 provisional spot.
In Funny Car, Hight raced his Auto Club Ford Mustang to a 4.026-second run at 317.64 mph to take the lead after the first two sessions. Hight, the 2009 world champ, topped Tommy Johnson Jr.’s elapsed time on the last run of the second session.
“(Crew chief) Mike Neff was actually very happy with that run,” said Hight, who has four wins on the season. “We were No. 1 after the first session, and No. 1 again tonight, that’s six small points today. Tomorrow we’re going to get all over this thing. We’re going to get after it. We’re either going to run a three or we’re going to smoke the tires.”
Johnson Jr.’s Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger was strong, running a 4.038 at 318.32 to claim the second spot after the first day of qualifying.
In Pro Stock, Johnson laid down a 6.574 at 209.43 in his Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart to top the Friday leaderboard.
“I would be surprised if you could have sucked another two-thousandths out of that run,” Johnson said. “It was perfect. There was nothing left. Actually both of the runs I made today were two of the best I’ve made this year, maybe even in my career. We left nothing on the table.”
Johnson, the 2012 world champ, is going for his third No. 1 starting spot of the season and has two more qualifying sessions to improve his performance. He has 33 career No. 1 qualifiers.
Point leader Erica Enders-Stevens sits second after the first day with her pass of 6.594 at 209.65 in her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro.
Krawiec shot to the top of Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying with a track record 6.872 at 194.86 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. Krawiec, who has been No. 1 qualifier in three straight events, has yet to win or qualify in the top position at Route 66 Raceway.
“The key is that we made two good passes today,” said Krawiec, a three-time world champ. “On the first run I ran a 6.93, which was good, but we also left a lot on the table. We used that run and came up with a good tune-up for Q2. The track is really good here and we can get after it.”