In front of a huge crowd on Friday at Maple Grove Raceway, the NHRA’s countdown to the Championship Playoffs got off to an impressive start, with Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Kyle Koretsky (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) claiming the No.1 Provisional Qualifier at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA National Championships presented by Pennzoil.
With fans receiving their first dose of NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series action in two years on the historic track, Force left everyone with incredible memories on Friday, achieving the fastest race ever on the track in the story of Top Fuel. She climbed to the top of her 11,000 horsepower Flav-R-Pac dragster with an incredible passage of 3.666 seconds at a robust speed of 335.57 mph, which puts her in the running to qualify No.1 for the seventh consecutive race and the ninth time overall this season. . It was a remarkable streak of dominance in qualifying and Force took advantage of every minute of Friday’s spectacular streak.
“This race was fast and this finish line went quickly,” Force said. “So we have to get out the chutes, cut the fuel, but it feels good to be able to run like that for our first qualifying pass of the night. To seize this n ° 1 currently, it gives confidence to the whole team. It helps us feel strong for tomorrow. Right now that countdown has started right here in Reading, PA. Everything is at stake right now. We have to repeat this the rest of the weekend.
Steve Torrence, the points leader and three-time reigning world champion, positioned himself well with an assist from 3.692 to 327.19 paired with Force, placing him second. Clay Millican’s 3.696 at 322.65 puts him third, while Mike Salinas is fourth after 3.699. Billy Torrence was the fifth driver to hit 3.60 after his 3.699 pass.
After a top-down regular season, Hight’s playoffs started off on a high note, taking first place with a stunning 3.883-330.39 assist in his 11,000 horsepower Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS. Hight entered the championship countdown sixth in points, still seeking the consistency needed to make a championship run. He has a pair of wins and four final round appearances, but the last four races included just three round wins. Hight sought to make amends on Friday and did so quickly, seeking to qualify for the second time this year and the 70th of his career.
“It was a good start for us,” said Hight. “We have a good grasp of how to run this car. From now on, every point counts and we have to keep counting them. Starting sixth in the countdown is pretty low, but we have an extra run this year. . I feel like you’re going to win at least three races if you want to be the champion and we have to start here. “
Tommy Johnson Jr. was running side by side with Hight, who is once again replacing Matt Hagan. The reigning world champion is recovering from COVID-19 and Johnson did an admirable job as a top-notch substitute on Friday, dropping from 3.895 to 333.82 in an excellent side-to-side race with Hight. This places Johnson second, while Bob Tasca III is currently third at 3.913 to 328.22. Cruz Pedregon is fourth after his assist of 3.914 and points leader Ron Capps rounds out the top five with a run of 3.932.
After a heart-wrenching loss to a hole in the final round of the US Nationals, Koretsky bounced back impressively on his home track on Friday, clocking a 6.547 to 209.98 run in his Lucas Oil Chevrolet Camaro. Koretsky is attempting his second consecutive No.1 qualifying and he couldn’t have dreamed of a better start in the Pro Stock race for the first time at Maple Grove Raceway in what is also his first playoff race. Koretsky was crushed after losing to Erica Enders at the US Championships, but after back-to-back appearances in the final round Koretsky knows he has a great car and it manifested again on Friday in front of a big party. of his family and friends. .
“It was exciting. My first racing pass here in Pro Stock and to go No.1 is really cool,” Koretsky said. “To come out and go 6.54, I think there’s a Little more in it. It felt good to go down the track. Everything went well and it was a good race. The pits were packed and it felt good at home. It would be great for my first win here. “
Greg Anderson ran an identical 6.547, but was second after a slightly slower 209.33. Anderson entered the championship countdown on top of the points and his weekend in Reading is already looking very promising. Aaron Stanfield currently sits in third place with a run of 6.548 to 209.62. Rookie Dallas Glenn is fourth with a 6.550 and Troy Coughlin Jr. is just behind with a 6.552. US Championship winner Erica Enders is sixth after the first set with a score of 6.553.
Maple Grove Raceway fans were treated to a flurry of 6.76 races to complete the first round of qualifying in Pro Stock Motorcycle, with Sampey leading the charge with his 6.761 to 198.85 on his Mission Foods / Vance & Hines Suzuki . It was an impressive race on a remarkable weekend for Sampey, whose first career Pro Stock Motorcycle victory came at Maple Grove Raceway 25 years ago. She’s added five more since then and Sampey currently has more track wins than any runner in the class in NHRA history. Those good vibes continued on Friday, where Sampey looks to build on his second place finish to the US Nationals.
“For me it’s an amazing start because I struggled to get down the track on the right track so I’m really excited about it,” said Sampey. “I didn’t change gears perfectly so there’s more to it, but for the most part the momentum I’m feeling heading into qualifying on Saturday is great. I’m looking forward to the weekend.”
Eddie Krawiec took second in the pair after Sampey, completing the first 200mph race in class history on the track, advancing from 6.763 to 201.67. The race also set the track speed record, leaving Krawiec in a great position after his victory at Indy. Points leader and defending champion Matt Smith clocked 6.766 to 201.34 to complete qualifying, placing him in third. Scotty Pollacheck is fourth at 6.829 to 198.52 and Cory Reed completes the top five with his assist from 6.867 to 194.24.