Friday’s US Nationals qualifying recap

CLERMONT, Ind — The lights come on and the speeds go up. They each go hand-in-hand. More so in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. These 11,000 horsepower machines glide through the night time air easier than they do under day time conditions.

It’s natural.

But when it’s at the “Big Go” for the 68th annual Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals, it just means more than anywhere else too. This is their Super Bowl. It’s also the final race of the regular season as well.

Most years, Friday night’s action sets the top end of the ladders for the four professional ranks. That’s why the pressure is packed and the action intense. You have 1 pass and no do overs.

For the ones leading the charge out of the gates, there’s really not a surprise among them. The hottest drivers in Funny Car are 1-2 while the defending Pro Stock winners of this great event finished Friday where they ended here in 2021 – on top.

In Top Fuel action, Justin Ashley set the tone running the low ET at 3.716 (330.23 mph). Ashley sits 4th in points entering the weekend. The 27-year old New York native has 4 career wins, was 4th in last year’s final points and competing in his 4th full-time season.

Is it lucky No. 4 for Ashley?

Speaking of No. 4, the four-time defending Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence went P2 on Friday night at 3.725 ET (327.51 mph). Torrence, like his season, was a little slow off the start line but made up for it in a blazing hot pass in his CAPCO dragster. He’s looking for his 2nd straight US Nationals victory and 2nd consecutive win on the season too after being winless on the year prior.

Josh Hart went 3.726 ET (319.37 mph) to end up 3rd while Mike Salinas (3.727 ET, 325.85 mph) and Billy Torrence (3.734 ET, 328.38 mph) rounded out the top 5.

3 of the top 4 times are in Saturday’s Top Fuel Callout. Ashley will face off against Torrence because points leader Brittany Force called out Salinas. Force is currently on the outside looking in as her Monster Energy dragster had an issue near the midway mark of her pass. She went 4.739 ET (152.06 mph) which was only good enough for 19th out of 24 drivers. She’ll need to beat 3.866 ET to move her way into the final ladders for Monday’s eliminations. She has plenty of time to do so with two qualifying rounds each day on Saturday and Sunday.

Force was the No. 1 qualifier last year and used that to march all the way to the finals to where she’d eventually lose to Steve Torrence. Her teammate Austin Prock is also on the outside looking in as he was only 21st overall (5.363 ET, 125.2 mph).

The all-time winningest Top Fuel driver as well as the one with the most US Nationals Wally’s, Tony Schumacher, was 22nd (7.117 ET, 84.44 mph).

That’s shocking that those 3 are currently not in the field yet.

Friday’s Times

  1. Justin Ashley 3.716
  2. Steve Torrence 3.725
  3. Josh Hart 3.726
  4. Mike Salinas 3.727
  5. Billy Torrence 3.834
  6. Doug Kalitta 3.753
  7. Shawn Langdon 3.754
  8. Clay Millican 3.761
  9. Antron Brown 3.764
  10. Leah Pruett 3.765
  11. Tripp Tatum 3.781
  12. Doug Foley 3.792
  13. Dan Mercier 3.793
  14. Alex Laughlin 3.813
  15. Will Smith 3.844
  16. Krista Baldwin 3.866
  17. Kyle Wurtzel 3.904
  18. Scott Palmer 3.972
  19. Brittany Force 4.739
  20. Spencer Massey 4.809
  21. Austin Prock 5.363
  22. Tony Schumacher 7.117
  23. Lex Joon No Time (DQ)
  24. Scott Farley No Time (DQ)

Bob Tasca III vs. Ron Capps on Friday night from IRP. Photo Credit: NHRA Media Site

Funny Car

They got going at 8:26 p.m. locally which also saw 2 DQ’s in this round. The biggest storyline of all has to be Ron Capps getting into the wall and being 1 of those 2 DQ’s and having to likely to go a backup car as a result. He was dejected after doing so knowing that his chances of taking a Big Go crown are clicking off by the year.

He’ll have to still qualify his way into the show this weekend now.

Capps is eventually going to win here on Labor Day weekend at some point so a rebound this year would be fitting. He has too. He’s won everything else there is to win in NHRA. Capps is a 70 time victor (2nd most ever) in his NHRA Drag Racing career but has just 1 victory on these IRP grounds. However, that win didn’t occur in the US Nationals but rather the other race weekend thrown together here in 2020. For the US Nationals, he’s 0-for-25. Is this finally going to be his year?

He lost in the final round last year to Tim Wilkerson.

He does have 2 wins this year and the 2-time Funny Car champion, including last year’s title, would likely trade most of it all away from a Wally on Labor Day weekend in Indianapolis.

He’ll have his work cut out for him though with the top 2 being familiar 2022 foes. Robert Hight was P1 at 3.870 ET (331.94 mph) over Bob Tasca III (3.878 ET, 331.53 mph).

Hight is the current Funny Car points leader. He’s there because he’s won 6 of the 15 race weekends this season. Can he score his first Big Go triumph since 2013? Tasca III who’s as hot as anyone in the sport right now is his biggest threat.

“Bring it on,” Hight said of Tasca.

Tasca III fits the parity narrative for this event as he’s never won here on Labor Day weekend before, but the Ford driver also does have 3 wins in the last 4 races on the season including 2 straight.

In total, Hight and Tasca III have also combined to have won each of the last 6 races on the season as the last time someone not named Hight or Tasca III won a Funny Car race was back on June 19 by Capps.

They’re 1-2 at the moment.

They’re joined up front by fan favorite John Force who went 3.881 ET, 333.25 mph. Blake Alexander (3.905 ET, 323.19 mph) and Cruz Pedregon (3.906 ET, 324.83 mph) rounded out the top five.

For Funny Car, we’ve had JR Todd win in 2017 and 2018, but Mike Neff (2012), Robert Hight (2013), Alexis DeJoria (2014), Jack Beckman (2015, 2020), Matt Hagan (2016), John Force (2019) and Tim Wilkerson (2021) to give us 8 different winners in the last 10 years.

Also, entering the weekend, Chad Green leads Jim Campbell by a mere 4 points for that 10th and final spot. Blake Alexander is only 26 points out himself.

Friday’s Times

  1. Robert Hight 3.870
  2. Bob Tasca III 3.878
  3. John Force 3.881
  4. Blake Alexander 3.905
  5. Cruz Pedregon 3.906
  6. JR Todd 3.927
  7. Tim Wilkerson 3.935
  8. Matt Hagan 3.938
  9. Alexis DeJoria 3.953
  10. Paul Lee 3.963
  11. Bobby Bode 3.974
  12. Chad Green 4.047
  13. Justin Schriefer 4.132
  14. Dale Creasey Jr. 4.375
  15. John Smith 4.440
  16. Terry Haddock 5.063
  17. Ron Capps No Time (DQ)
  18. Jim Campbell No Time (DQ)

Aaron Stanfield during qualifying for the US Nationals on Friday. Photo Credit: NHRA Media Site

Pro Stock

Erica Enders is hoping to score her 7th win of the season 3rd straight here. She’s off to a great start in being P1 on Friday night. Enders went 6.598 ET (208.49 mph) in besting Dallas Glenn down to the slimmest of margins. Glenn had the exact same time but narrowly the slower mph at 208.01 mph for him and 208.49 mph for Enders.

Greg Anderson (6.599 ET, 207.78 mph) was 3rd while Deric Kramer (6.600 ET, 207.88 mph) and Cristian Cuadra (6.606 ET, 208.1 mph) rounded out the top 5.

Friday’s Times

  1. Erica Enders 6.598
  2. Dallas Glenn 6.598
  3. Greg Anderson 6.599
  4. Deric Kramer 6.600
  5. Cristian Cuadra 6.606
  6. Kyle Koretsky 6.612
  7. Aaron Stanfield 6.613
  8. Bo Butner III 6.615
  9. Troy Coughlin Jr. 6.618
  10. Matt Hartford 6.624
  11. Fernando Cuadra Jr. 6.629
  12. Camrie Caruso 6.633
  13. Mason McGaha 6.640
  14. Chris McGaha 6.644
  15. Fernando Cuadra 6.678
  16. Larry Morgan 6.736
  17. Kenny Delco 7.594
  18. Alan Prusiensky 10.307

Jerry Savoie during qualifying for the US Nationals on Friday. Photo Credit: NHRA Media Site

Pro Stock Motorcycle

Defending US Nationals Pro Stock Motorcycle winner, Eddier Krawiec went to the top of the ladder on Friday night with an ET of 6.826 (198.79 mph). He enters the weekend 3rd in points and a 3-time Big Go champion (2014, 2017, 2021). Can he pick up No 4 on Monday?

Angie Smith (6.859 ET, 199.85 mph) was second quick on Friday. Jerry Savoie was third at 6.882 ET (192.91 mph). Between Krawiec and Savoie, they’ve combined to have won 5 of the last 8 US Nationals in this category including 2 of the last 3 at that. They had 2 of the top 3 times on Day 1.

Hector Arana Jr. (6.884 ET, 198.76 mph) was 4th while Angelle Sampey (6.886 ET, 197.59 mph) rounded out the top 5. Factoring in Karen Stoffer’s 6th best time, that’s 3 females in the top 6 of the ladder so far.

Points leader Joey Gladstone was only 13th quickest.

Friday’s Times

  1. Eddie Krawiec 6.826
  2. Angie Smith 6.859
  3. Jerry Savoie 6.882
  4. Hector Arana Jr. 6.884
  5. Angelle Sampey 6.886
  6. Karen Stoffer 6.890
  7. Marc Ingwersen 6.898
  8. Steve Johnson 6.929
  9. Jianna Evaristo 6.937
  10. Malcom Phillips Jr. 6.946
  11. Scott Pollachek 6.958
  12. Kelloy Clontz 6.981
  13. Joey Gladstone 7.017
  14. Chris Bostick 7.079
  15. Matt Smith 7.079
  16. Gaige Herrera 7.172
  17. Ryan Oehler 7.396
  18. Chip Ellis 7.891
  19. Ron Tornow 10.209

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