B. Force, Hight, Stanfield and M. Smith race to provisional No. 1 positions at NHRA Nevada Nationals
Brittany Force made the quickest run in each qualifying session on Friday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, powering to the provisional No. 1 position in Top Fuel at the 22nd annual NHRA Nevada Nationals.
Robert Hight (Funny Car), Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the 21st event in the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season and the fifth of six races in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Looking to sweep both races in Las Vegas this year and stay in the championship hunt, Force went 3.665-seconds at 337.24 mph in her 11,000-horsepower Flav-R-Pac dragster. That gave her the best runs in each of the two sessions on Friday as she looks to pick up her ninth No. 1 qualifier in 2022 and 41st in her career. She closed to within 77 points of leader Justin Ashley heading into final qualifying tomorrow, knowing she’ll need another big performance in Las Vegas to keep her title aspirations alive.
“Today's been awesome. It's exactly what we've been wanting to do,” Force said. “We need to grab points where we can because this thing's going to come down to Pomona and it's going to come down just a number of points, so we need to grab them wherever we can. We need a long day on race day. and we're starting off well this week. And we're already in a good position to solid runs. That was our goal and picking up bonus points. So, we're right on track.”
Mike Salinas was the only other car in the 3.60s, going 3.697 at 334.73, while defending event winner and four-time world champ Steve Torrence is third with a 3.705 at 332.51. Ashley is fourth after his 3.716 at 331.85.
Robert Hight helped ensure a dominant Friday for John Force Racing in the nitro categories, posting identical runs of 3.857 in the two sessions in his 11,000-horsepower Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS. It was an impressive showing for the points leader, who also went 331.77 and is after his sixth No. 1 qualifier of the season and 77th in his career. He entered the weekend 10 points ahead of defending world champ Ron Capps and picked up some much-needed bonus points during the first two sessions. It was also a huge momentum boost for the three-time world champion, who was eager to get back into action this weekend after a semifinal loss in Dallas.
“Those two runs, those were huge. We need every point we can get. The way I look at it, we let Ron Capps back in it in Dallas, we’re even. Ten points is nothing,” Hight said. “Having that week off between races was brutal, but I know Jimmy Prock spent that week and a half thinking about this race car. He made some changes, and I was even surprised we ran so well first session. We ran 3.85-seconds two different ways, and the guys have a handle on this car. Picking up those six points today, that was big for us, and we need to get six more tomorrow.”
Bob Tasca III went 3.865 at 330.80 to put him in the second spot, while J.R. Todd is third after his run of 3.870 at 333.33. Capps is right behind in fourth after going 3.889.
Needing a big weekend to keep teammate and points leader Erica Enders from clinching her fifth world title, Aaron Stanfield got off to a great start on Friday, making the quickest run of both qualifying sessions, including his 6.595 at 207.11 in his Janac Brothers Chevrolet Camaro. If that holds, it will give the young standout his fifth No. 1 qualifier of the season. Stanfield, who also has three wins this year, entered the weekend 165 points behind Enders, knowing he needed a strong showing to deny Enders her fifth world title for at least one more race.
“We just want to come out and do a good job. I know the title is a longshot,” Stanfield said. “The Elite team is having a great season and I’m thankful to be a part of it. Heck, I just want to win some races. We’ve got two to go and we’d like to win both of them. This was a good start. We made two good runs today and that sets us up for tomorrow and Sunday.”
Enders wasn’t far behind, making the second-quickest run each session. Her 6.597 at 208.26 puts her second, while Troy Coughlin Jr. is third after a 6.606 at 208.17.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Matt Smith continued his strong championship march, going to the No. 1 spot on his Denso Auto Parts Buell with a pass of 6.797 at 201.04. If it holds, it will give the points leader his fifth No. 1 spot in 2022 and 52nd in his career. More importantly, it puts Smith, who held a 51-point lead over Joey Gladstone entering the weekend, in position to continue his playoff momentum as he seeks a sixth world championship. He’s won twice in Las Vegas and a third victory would put him in an ideal position to clinch a world title in Pomona.
“This is a good start. We messed up in Q1 and blew the tire off it but we de-tuned it for Q2 and went to the top,” Smith said. “I’ve said this all along but to win a championship you’ve got to have no parts failures and not let anything stupid happen. It’s tough out here right now. Steve Johnson has a good bike. Jerry Savoie has a good bike, my wife (Angie) has a good bike and Joey definitely has a good bike.”
Angelle Sampey is currently second after going 6.807 at 198.64, with Steve Johnson in third after his pass of 6.832 at 195.19.
Legendary driver and team owner Tony Stewart also made his NHRA racing debut on Friday in Top Alcohol Dragster, going 5.219 at 276.52 during the first session.
Qualifying continues at 12:00 p.m. PT on Saturday at the NHRA Nevada Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
LAS VEGAS -- Friday's results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 22nd annual NHRA Nevada Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 21st of 22 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday's final eliminations.
Top Fuel -- 1. Brittany Force, 3.665 seconds, 337.24 mph; 2. Mike Salinas, 3.697, 334.73; 3. Steve Torrence, 3.705, 332.51; 4. Justin Ashley, 3.716, 331.85; 5. Austin Prock, 3.731, 328.30; 6. Shawn Langdon, 3.739, 328.30; 7. Josh Hart, 3.741, 324.75; 8. Antron Brown, 3.742, 329.91; 9. Leah Pruett, 3.746, 329.18; 10. Tony Schumacher, 3.820, 266.90; 11. Rob Passey, 4.032, 297.48; 12. Krista Baldwin, 4.042, 241.50; 13. Clay Millican, 4.272, 198.17; 14. Doug Kalitta, 5.126, 136.72.
Funny Car -- 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.857, 331.77; 2. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.865, 330.80; 3. J.R. Todd, Toyota Supra, 3.870, 333.33; 4. Ron Capps, Supra, 3.889, 332.59; 5. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.898, 333.25; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.912, 326.08; 7. Alexis DeJoria, Supra, 3.922, 325.69; 8. Paul Lee, Charger, 3.933, 321.35; 9. Chad Green, Mustang, 3.941, 321.19; 10. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.944, 288.89; 11. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.945, 318.77; 12. Jim Campbell, Charger, 3.972, 320.97; 13. Steven Densham, Mustang, 4.040, 306.60; 14. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Camry, 4.553, 194.83; 15. John Force, Camaro, 4.589, 178.35; 16. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 4.596, 181.96.
Not Qualified: 17. Bobby Bode, 4.759, 149.05; 18. Jeff Arend, 6.459, 101.68; 19. Jason Rupert, 7.395, 98.77.
Pro Stock -- 1. Aaron Stanfield, Chevy Camaro, 6.595, 207.11; 2. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.597, 208.26; 3. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.606, 208.17; 4. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.606, 207.50; 5. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.610, 208.01; 6. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.610, 207.85; 7. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.614, 206.04; 8. Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.616, 206.89; 9. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.616, 206.64; 10. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.624, 207.62; 11. Camrie Caruso, Camaro, 6.633, 206.76; 12. Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.639, 207.88; 13. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.643, 206.13; 14. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Mustang, 6.645, 206.67; 15. Fernando Cuadra, Mustang, 6.649, 206.61; 16. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.654, 207.08.
Not Qualified: 17. Alan Prusiensky, 6.687, 205.22; 18. Shane Tucker, 19.788, 39.43.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 1. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.797, 201.04; 2. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.807, 198.64; 3. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.832, 195.19; 4. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.844, 196.27; 5. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.846, 199.02; 6. Eddie Krawiec, Suzuki, 6.846, 197.02; 7. Marc Ingwersen, EBR, 6.855, 195.56; 8. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.860, 194.97; 9. Chip Ellis, EBR, 6.868, 196.67; 10. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.915, 194.83; 11. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 6.929, 194.86; 12. Gaige Herrera, Suzuki, 6.968, 191.87; 13. Jianna Evaristo, Suzuki, 6.989, 191.48; 14. Freddie Camarena, Suzuki, 6.996, 193.13; 15. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.998, 196.59; 16. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.999, 193.46.
Not Qualified: 17. Chris Bostick, 7.054, 194.07; 18. Katie Sullivan, 7.067, 191.73; 19. Rick Newport, broke; 20. Michael Phillips, broke.