Saturday’s US Nationals qualifying recap, Ashley breaks track recrod

CLERMONT, Ind — The forecast wasn’t favorable for providing much track time on a soggy Saturday in Central Indiana. However, the conditions did dry up eventually allowing both rounds to run to completion in Day 2 of the Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals. Good thing they did too because under the gray skies, we saw several jumps in the ET department in all 4 professional classes including a track record falling.

That typically doesn’t happen as the weekend goes on. Usually the Friday night times stand up top.

That wasn’t the case on Saturday. All 4 classes saw the top spots change hands during the day. It was a wild day of action that saw improvement everywhere.

The two Nitro divisions didn’t see a ton of movement after the 2nd round but saw a slew of improved times in Round 3. 15 of the 25 of them in fact for Top Fuel improved on their previous qualifying times on Saturday evening in comparison to the previous 2 rounds.

Steve Torrence upended Justin Ashley in Q2 but Ashley got him back in Q3 to set up a massive battle as we reached the midway mark of the prestigious race weekend.

For round 2, Ashley didn’t improve his time in that round while Torrence did in going from 3.725 ET under the lights on Friday to 3.701 ET.

Then in Q3, Ashley took it back in running a 3.671 ET and eclipsing the 335 mph barrier to break the one-year old track record. Torrence had another shot and improved again from 3.701 to 3.692 ET. However, Ashley’s time held up from the prior group and will hold onto the top qualifying spot after Day 2.

Ashely 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?

He has 1 No. 1 qualifier this season and 3 times he’s started 2nd which equals…4.

Torrence is the 4-time defending Top Fuel champion, won the last race in Brainerd for his 1st Wally of 2022 and on top of that is the defending US Nationals winner. He’s eyeing his 3rd No. 1 qualifier of the season.

Mike Salinas improved to P3 (3.701 ET) while Brittany Force moved from the outside looking in after the opening 2 rounds of qualifying to 4th at 3.704 ET. She went from 4.739 ET in Q1 to 4.016 in Q2 but that time wasn’t good enough until laying down her hot lap in the third round of the five round qualifying sessions.

Clay Millican (3.707 ET) rounded out the top five.

Alex Laughlin and Will Smith were each bumped out on Saturday and are joined by 10-time US Nationals champion Tony Schmacher on the outside looking in with 1 day left to go to set the lineup for Monday’s final eliminations.

Schumacher improved from 7.117 ET to 3.960 ET but that wasn’t enough to bump his way in.

Everyone has 2 more shots at it on Sunday. They have to beat 3.795 ET to get in.

Through Round 3

  1. Justin Ashley 3.671
  2. Steve Torrence 3.692
  3. Mike Salinas 3.701
  4. Brittany Force 3.704
  5. Clay Millican 3.707
  6. Antron Brown 3.712
  7. Billy Torrence 3.717
  8. Josh Hart 3.722
  9. Doug Foley 3.722
  10. Leah Pruett 3.725
  11. Doug Kalitta 3.749
  12. Austin Prock 3.750
  13. Shawn Langdon 3.754
  14. Dan Mercier 3.758
  15. Tripp Tatum 3.781
  16. Kyle Wurtzel 3.795
  17. Alex Laughlin 3.813
  18. Will Smith 3.832
  19. Krista Baldwin 3.866
  20. Tony Schumacher 3.960
  21. Scott Palmer 3.972
  22. Spencer Massey 4.168
  23. Cameron Ferre 5.864
  24. Lex Joon 10.264

Funny Car

For Funny Car competition, Ron Capps was 1 of 3 drivers to improve in the 2nd round in going from a crash to 3.955 ET which moved him at the time up to 10th. He then went 3.881 ET on his final run of the day to break into the top 5 in 4th.

The top 3 times however were left over from Friday night with Robert Hight still leading Bob Tasca III and John Force.

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.

Through Round 3

  1. Robert Hight 3.870
  2. Bob Tasca III 3.878
  3. John Force 3.881
  4. Ron Capps 3.881
  5. Matt Hagan 3.892
  6. JR Todd 3.894
  7. Blake Alexander 3.899
  8. Cruz Pedregon 3.906
  9. Alexis DeJoria 3.907
  10. Tim Wilkerson 3.924
  11. Bobby Bode 3.937
  12. Chad Grfeen 3.955
  13. Paul Lee 3.963
  14. Jim Campbell 3.980
  15. John Smith 4.034
  16. Justin Schriefer 4.132
  17. Dale Creasy Jr. 4.175
  18. Terry Haddock 5.063

Erica Enders at the Big Go. Photo Credit: NHRA Media Site

Pro Stock

This is where the most movement began. 9 of the 18 Pro Stock drivers improved between Q1 and Q2 including leader Erica Enders. She remained No. 1 improving from her Friday night time of 6.598 ET to 6.590 ET on Saturday.

Matt Hartford made a big jump from 10th (6.624 ET) to 2nd (6.593 ET). Cristian Cuadra and Dallas Glenn stayed 3rd and 4th respectively but also improved their passes while Greg Anderson didn’t improve but stayed in 5th.

Deric Kramer also stayed in 6th but Aaron Stanfield tied him on ET at 6.600 in 7th. Troy Coughlin Jr. and Kyle Koretsky improved times but marginally which is why they went from 9th to 8th in Coughlin’s case and 6th to 9th for Koretsky.

Then came Round 3.

Greg Anderson stormed to P1 at 6.567 ET. The legend is eyeing his 100th career victory on Monday. His teammate Dallas Glenn went went from 2nd to 4th to back to 2nd again in going 6.578 ET on his final run of the day. Enders was at 6.582 in a 3rd straight improvement but it relegated her to 3rd after 2 days.

Hartford didn’t improve on his final run to drop him to 4th while Cuadra was 5th at 6.596 ET.

For Anderson, he’s also eyeing his 3rd straight No. 1 qualifier on the season and 4th consecutive top 2. He had 1 top 2 starting spot in the 9 race prior. Glenn has qualified better than 5th just once all season while Enders has been in the top 4 qualifying in every race this year. Hartford has never had a top 5 qualifying position all season himself.

Through Round 3

  1. Greg Anderson 6.567
  2. Dallas Glenn 6.578
  3. Erica Enders 6.582
  4. Matt Hartford 6.593
  5. Cristian Cuadra 6.596
  6. Aaron Stanfield 6.599
  7. Deric Kramer 6.600
  8. Bo Butner III 6.601
  9. Troy Coughlin Jr. 6.604
  10. Kyle Koretsky 6.605
  11. Fernando Cuadra Jr. 6.629
  12. Camrie Caruso 6.633
  13. Chris McGaha 6.634
  14. Mason McGaha 6.640
  15. Kenny Delco 6.644
  16. Fernando Cuadra 6.661
  17. Alan Prusiensky 6.674
  18. Larry Morgan 6.714
Jerry Savoie during qualifying for the US Nationals on Friday. Photo Credit: NHRA Media Site

Pro Stock Motorcycle

Angelle Sampey improved from 5th to 1st in going from 6.886 ET to 6.796 ET which was good enough to snag the top spot in the ladder after the 2nd day. Matt Smith was the biggest improver through in going from 15th to 2nd from 7.079 ET to 6.800 ET. Eddie Krawiec stayed the same but dropped from 1st to 3rd while Angie Smith improved to 4th at 6.828 ET.

Steve Johnson improved from 6.929 to 6.835 and goes from 8th to 5th in the span of 24 hours.

Jerry Savoie improved minimally which is why he dropped from 3rd to 6th.

Joey Gladstone was another big moved from 13th to 7th. Ryan Oehler (17th to 13th), Chip Ellis (18th to 11th) and Ron Tornow (19th to 15th) all went from the outside to in after the 2nd round.

Chris Bostick improved from 7.079 to 6.989 but it wasn’t good enough to keep him in as he dropped from 15th to 18th. Gaiger Herrera also improved but went from 16th to 19th.

After Round 3

  1. Angelle Sampey 6.796
  2. Matt Smith 6.800
  3. Eddie Krawiec 6.826
  4. Angie Smith 6.828
  5. Steve Johnson 6.835
  6. Jerry Savoie 6.846
  7. Joey Gladstone 6.873
  8. Karen Stoffer 6.875
  9. Hector Arana Jr. 6.884
  10. Marc Ingwersen 6.898
  11. Chip Ellis 6.899
  12. Kelly Clontz 6.900
  13. Ryan Oehler 6.910
  14. Jianna Evaristo 6.937
  15. Ron Tornow 6.945
  16. Malcolm Phillips Jr. 6.946
  17. Scott Pollacheck 6.958
  18. Chris Bostick 6.989
  19. Gaige Herrera 7.068
  20. Michael Phillips 7.099

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