Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Johnny Gray (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock), and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) raced to the No. 1 qualifying spots in their respective categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
In Top Fuel, Torrence remained on top of the field in his Capco Contractors dragster. Torrence's Friday performance of 3.829 at 319.98 gave him his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season.
"We tried to see what we could get away with today," Torrence said. "It's hard on the crew chief, driver, and team when it's this hot. I was sitting in my firesuit soaking wet. It helped us work on our hot weather tune-up for the Western Swing. Tomorrow should cool off quite a bit and give us different conditions to race in."
Gray took the top spot in Funny Car qualifying when he drove his Service Central Dodge Charger to a 4.094 run at 306.33. It’s Gray’s second No. 1 qualifier of the season and third of his career.
“I hope tomorrow’s not like today because obviously we weren’t stellar today," Gray said. "The Service Central/NTB car is a good race car. We’ve got a good tune-up for it. We tried to run too hard the first run this morning, and then this afternoon we had the thing lined up a little bit to the left, and it took off towards the centerline, and when I tried to turn it to reel it back, it kind of upset it and knocked the tires loose. We’re good. We know what we did wrong, and we’ll go out tomorrow, and it should be a good day.”
Johnson held off a competitive class to take the top spot in Pro Stock. Johnson drove his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger to a 6.663 run at 207.34 to claim his sixth No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 24th of his career. He has two wins this season.
"We have a really good car, and we're going to make better decisions," said Johnson. "We stunk the place up today. We shot ourselves in the foot in the first round [of the K&N Horsepower Challenge special event]. My crew chief told me to go right when he meant for me to go left while I was backing up. After all these years, you find new ways to lose.”
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hines raced to the No. 1 qualifying position. Hines rode his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a 6.961-second at 192.85-mph run to take his first No. 1 qualifier position of the year and the 31st of his career. Hines has won twice in Norwalk (2009 and 2007) and two times this season.
“We just picked away at it all weekend long with our Screamin’ Eagle V-Rods," Hines said. "It’s just a testament to how good our team is. We started out Chicago last week with a different mind-set of how we’re going to come in and tune these races in the summer. Last year, we’d be behind the eight ball and not have good performance on Sunday, so we’re doing a completely different strategy than we would normally do, and it’s showing in our performance. We’re just picking away at it and steadily improving every single qualifier.”
Ohio native Troy Coughlin secured the No. 1 qualifying position and then raced to a first-round victory Saturday in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx portion of the event.
Coughlin, who is sixth in the season-long points standings, posted a run of 5.949 seconds at 250.64 mph in his turbocharged JEGS.com '68 Chevy Camaro to take the No. 1 qualifying position on a hot and humid day at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.
"We felt as if we had a competitive car coming into this race," Coughlin said. "We started off in qualifying by losing traction a little bit, so we had some work to do. This morning, we read the track and made a couple adjustments to it and ended up with a great run that put us on the pole. We were the second car out, so we had to sit and wait all session to see what happened. But it stuck and stayed No. 1 by four-hundredths, which was nice."
In the first round of eliminations, Coughlin posted a winning pass of 6.180 at 223.32 while Mike Knowles' Camaro broke during the burnout.
"We rolled into first round on a little bit greasier racetrack, which we adjusted for," Coughlin said. "The JEGS car was hustling, but it started picking up the front end, so I cut it back a little bit. I decided not to take a chance at hurting the engine and just kind of let off. We still ran a 6.18, which is pretty quick. We'll tune this run for tomorrow. The weather's supposed to be a little cooler, so that's going to bring the track and the atmosphere to this thing to make it faster."
Other first-round winners were Donald Martin, Rickie Smith, David Roemer, Roger Burgess, Donald Walsh, Mike Janis, and Mike Castellana. In the quarterfinals, which will continue on Sunday at approximately 2:30 p.m., Coughlin will face Martin, Burgess will meet Castellana, Smith will battle Roemer, and Walsh will face Janis.
Friday: Torrence, Gray, Johnson, Arana are opening-day leaders in Norwalk