BROWNSBURG, Ind — Sunday’s Dodge//SRT U.S. Nationals was already going to be a wild one, but with the liquid menace interrupting Saturday’s activity, the teams have literally have had just 5 seconds of on track time heading into eliminations. With three qualifying sessions available this weekend at the Lucas Oil Raceway, only one of them was able to be completed with mother nature ruining plans on Saturday.
Rain fell on the west side of Indianapolis in late morning and really never let up enough to get the two rounds of pro qualifying in. That meant that Friday night’s times will set the lineups for the Big Go in the pursuit of the prestigious Wally’s on Sunday.
Talk about pressure runs that night.
The name of the series as well as the name of race weekend may be different, but Friday night’s NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series’ 61st trip to Raceway Park for the U.S. Nationals packed the typical same punch as it annually does and shaped the ladders.
Sometimes though, the best dish is savored when its served at the very end.
Following a pulse pounding night of speed on the west side of Indianapolis, Brittany Force turned in the top time of the opening day of action with a blazing hot pass in her Monster Energy dragster of 3.684 (334.57 mph).
That shouldn’t come much of a shock though with Force being the No. 1 qualifier in seven of her 12 previous races this season, five of which coming all consecutively.
Last year’s US Nationals/Top Fuel champion, Steve Torrence, went against Force in the final pairing and used that quality spot in Q1 to turn in the second quickest pass at 3.688 ET (329.50 mph).
Torrence, has qualified second in three of the last five races to Force and was actually the last to top her in qualifying too, as that came six races ago in Norwalk.
2019 US Nationals winner, Doug Kalitta, was P3 (3.751 ET, 317.05 mph) while Josh Hart bested Leah Pruett for the fourth spot in a tiebreaker. Both went 3.755 ET, but Hart’s speed of 325.22 mph compared to Pruett’s 322.88 puts him fourth and her fifth at the moment.
On the flip side, last year’s winner, Shawn Langdon, was 16th overall and holds the 16th and final qualifier spot into the Big Go at 4.553 ET.
Mike Salinas (4.908 ET), Lex Joon (5.166 ET) and 2018 winner Clay Millican (5.555 ET) were on the outside looking in.
While we have the 2017 and 2019 winners in the top three, we have the 2018 and 2020 winners in the bottom four too.
16 Shawn Langdon vs. 1 Brittany Force
9 Justin Ashley vs. 8 Alex Laughlin
12 Joe Morrison vs. 5 Leah Pruett
13 Buddy Hull vs. 4 Josh Hart
11 Tatum vs. 6 Billy Torrence
14 Krista Baldwin vs. 3 Doug Kalitta
10 Kyle Wurtzel vs. 7 Carrillo
15 Antron Brown vs. 2 Steve Torrence
For the 2nd straight year, the defending winner of this race in Funny Car competition isn’t here. John Force won 2019 but sat out last year due to the pandemic while Jack Beckman (2020 winner) isn’t here at all.
Force, in his first time back to defend his 2019 win, earns the No. 1 qualifier with a 3.877 ET (330.72 mph). He last won the top qualifying spot for a race in Charlotte and hasn’t qualified better than sixth in each of the last three races entering the weekend.
Like in Top Fuel, we had a tie in ET with Bob Tasca III and Robert Hight each running 3.889 ET under the lights of a seasonal September Indiana night. With the aroma of Nitro and Goodyear rubber in the clear night sky, Tasca III earned the tiebreaker in going 332.67 mph with Hight being at 329.67 mph.
10 total cars went in the 3-second ET barrier with Cruz Pedregon (3.896 ET), JR Todd (3.905 ET), Ron Capps (3.907), Alexis DeJoria (3.915 ET), Tim Wilkerson (3.949 ET), Bobby Bode III (3.952 ET) and Blake Alexander (3.970) all pretty much turning in evenly matched times.
You may be noticing an absence of points leader Matt Hagan who unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday and as a result, will miss this weekend’s prestigious event. That will turn the standings on its head with Tasca III and Todd each trailing him by only 15 points coming into the final race of the regular season as well as Force being 16 points out in fourth.
Tasca III was second, Todd in fifth and Force in first while fifth place in points, Ron Capps, was sixth. Factor in Hight (3rd), DeJoria (7th), Pedregon (4th) and Wilkerson (8th) and you get 2nd through 9th in points taking spots 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 in Friday’s times.
Tommy Johnson Jr. is subbing for Hagan but didn’t make a pass after the crew found a malfunction with his car before he took off. He will now miss Sunday’s race as a result in a crushing blow to that team.
No. 16 Creasy Jr. vs. 1 Force
No. 9 Bobby Bode vs. No. 8 Tim Wilkerson
No. 12 Jim Campbell vs. No. 5 JR Todd
No. 13 Richards vs. No. 4 Cruz Pedregon
No. 11 Schriefer vs. No. 6 Ron Capps
No. 14 Chad Green vs. No. 3 Robert Hight
No. 10 Blake Alexander vs. No. 7 Alexis DeJoria
No. 15 Terry Haddock vs. No. 2 Bob Tasca III
Kyle Koretsky (6.572 ET) was P1 in Pro Stocks for his first career pole. Second place in points Aaron Stanfield is only 11th on the ladder and faces off against fifth in points and the No. 6 qualifier Matt Hartford. Points leader Greg Anderson is No. 7 with third in points Erica Enders being third on the ladder. Fourth in points Dallas Glenn, was the fourth qualifier.
No. 16 Morgan vs. No. 1 Koretsky
No. 9 Brogdon vs. No. 8 Chris McGaha
No. 12 Mason McGaha vs. No. 5 Kenny Delco
No. 13 Fernando Cuadro Jr. vs. No. 4 Dallas Glenn
No. 11 Aaron Stanfield vs. No. 6 Matt Hartford
No. 14 Bruno Massel vs. No. 3 Erica Enders
No. 10 Deric Kramer vs. No. 7 Greg Anderson
No. 15 Cristian Cuadra vs. No. 2 Troy Coughlin Jr.
Pro Stock Motorcycles
The good news here is that Eddie Krawiec (6.824 ET) was fastest in Pro Stock Bikes for his first No. 1 qualifier of the year but 49th of his career. The bad news for him? 56 race winner Andrew Hines is waiting for him in the first round as he was the No. 16 qualifier.
Points leader Matt Smith is the No. 6 qualifier while second in points, Steve Johnson, is second overall. In fact, third place Scott Pollacheck is third in points, so the top in points are towards the top in the ladder entering Sunday’s eliminations.
No. 16 Hines vs. No. 1 Krawiec
No. 9 Phillips vs. No. 8 Karen Stoffer
No. 12 Joey Gladstone vs. No. 5 Angie Smith
No. 13 Jianna Salinas vs. No. 4 Hector Arana Jr.
No. 11 Ryan Oehler vs. No. 6 Matt Smith
No. 14 Tornow vs. No. 3 Scotty Pollacheck
No. 10 Cory Reed vs. No. 7 Angelle Sampey
No. 15 Ingwersen vs. No. 2 Steve Johnson