General

Force and Hagan finish on top in Brainerd nitro qualifying

NHRA

Brittany Force earned her sixth low qualifier of the year in Top Fuel, while Matt Hagan qualified for the fifth time this season as No. 1 in Funny Car qualifying at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd. Force was the low qualifier after Friday’s two runs and improved on Saturday to remain number 1. Hagan took first place from Robert Hight on the last pass during Saturday’s fourth qualifying session.

Force followed Friday’s 3.685 with a consistently fast 3.661, 334.64 to take first place, and the lap that comes with it. The run equals Force’s second fastest pass of the year, behind her 3,654 leading the field at Richmond. Force was also the best qualifier of her career 38 times and she added six qualifying bonus points to her score.

“We’ve had some great runs this weekend and the car has been very consistent,” said Force. “On the last run [Q4], we tried to push hard, but we didn’t get the number we wanted. Overall we have remained number 1. I also love having four qualifying sessions because it’s an opportunity to learn as much as possible. We made three good ones and took first place and collected some [bonus] points. We feel good going into tomorrow.”

Force should be feeling good as her reward for claiming first place is a bye run into Sunday’s opening round of eliminations due to the 15-car field. She also looks forward to running as stress-free as her Monster Energy team introduces a new chassis this weekend.

“The [bye run] gives us a chance to relax on race day,” said Force. “It’s a little odd not having someone on the other track, but we’ll take it. can’t build the exact same car. The view is different and the seats are different and the way the seat belts fit is different. We released this car in Bristol but didn’t do full runs. The first full run was yesterday [Saturday].”

Force had to improve as Josh Hart briefly took over first place during Q3 with a 3,664 in his R+L Carriers dragster. Justin Ashley is also firmly in the 3.6s with a 3.691 and a 3.679 in the final session, while Steve Torrence found the 3.6s in the final session with a 3.694 in the Capco Contractors dragster.

While Force will have a bye run to kick off Sunday’s eliminations, the opening round could be a bit more stressful for some of its competitors. One of the most anticipated encounters is Leah Pruett and Shawn Langdon, who aren’t exactly best friends. Austin Prock, who is trying to get into the Top 10, will have to beat Billy Torrence to do so. Two drivers in the Top 5 will also go head-to-head as Steve Torrence takes on Mike Salinas, who finished 13th in the field. Finally, Doug Kalitta takes on Tony Schumacher in a battle with two of the most experienced drivers in the class.

The Funny Car lead changed hands several times in the final session when future leader Robert Hight was bumped by Bob Tasca III, who ran 3,682 in his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang. Moments later, Hagan delivered a crushing blow with one of the fastest runs of the season, a 3.843 to seal the post and the accompanying bye run.

“It’s impressive to do that, especially when the sun is shining. That’s proof of this number and NHRA preparation. I’m just thinking about what we could have done if the clouds had stayed away,” Hagan said. “We’re in a great spot tomorrow with a bye run. Every round is big. I don’t think I can get Robert, but we have to make sure we stay number 2 and make sure we start the Countdown in a great position.”

While Hagan is happy with a bye run on Sunday, he doesn’t take anything for granted. He also noted that his team will have to swap out the Dodge Charger bodies after they damaged their special Mopar 85 anniversary charger during the fourth quarter.

“Hey man, anything can happen, even on a bye run,” Hagan said. “You can still do something stupid and lose. We want to run well for the second round to get track choice, even though both tracks are good. I’m also glad it feels like autumn again. Topeka was like being on the surface of the sun, but here it cools down and the track is tight and you can use the power These are the conditions that Dickie [Venables] Loves. We seem to be struggling with warm weather. I was happy when we ran 3.89 twice in a row, but Dickie wasn’t. He went for it and it stuck.”

Hight, the runaway championship leader, finished No. 2 and will race against Steven Densham on the first lap, while Tasca, arguably the best driver in the Funny Car class right now, will begin his chase for a third win by taking on Dale Creasy Jr to race. another game in Funny Car features No. 4 qualifier Ron Capps against John Force, who has won 11 of his 155 victories at Brainerd Int’l Raceway.

Saturday also marked the completion of the D-Wagon Pro Mod Shootout which went to Kris Thorne. The current championship leader drove his turbocharged Camaro to a 5,762 on the last lap to beat Stevie “Fast” Jackson, who broke loose on half-track in his Bahrain1 Camaro.

Sunday’s action also includes the Mountain Motor Pro Stock class led by JR Carr with a 6.305.