Arana Jr. gets first No. 1 since 2015; Pritchett, Hight, T. Gray hold onto poles

Leah Pritchett, Robert Hight, Tanner Gray, and Hector Arana Jr. all hung onto the No. 1 qualifying positions at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
19 Aug 2017
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Hector Arana
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Hector Arana Jr. scored his first No. 1 qualifier in two years, and he picked a good event to do it. The rider of the Lucas Oil TV bike scored the green hat at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, his first time grabbing the pole since the 2015 Norwalk event. He stood on his 6.879-second run from the second qualifying session and ran the second-quickest time of the fourth session.

"This means a lot to me," said Arana Jr. "Not only to me, but everyone back at the shop and everyone in the crew, to finally get the results. We've been really good, we've (qualified) No. 3, No. 2, and it's been awesome, but it's so awesome to finally get the No. 1. It really does to mean a lot."

Leah Pritchett’s quickest run in NHRA history withstood Saturday qualifying to earn her the Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier. Pritchett’s 3.640-second pass at 330.63 mph from Friday night secured her sixth No. 1 of the season and seventh of her career. In the first round of eliminations Pritchett will face off against Rob Passey.

“Brainerd is the epitome of throw down central so that’s what we did last night,” Pritchett said. “Today was about getting ready for Sunday. Obviously, our national record gave us, delivered us, blessed us with a green hat but Q4 today was looking pretty good for us. We threw down last night and today was just about race day.” 

Brittany Force is qualified second with a run of 3.64 at 333.16 in her Monster Energy dragster and will face Steve Chrisman while Doug Kalitta is in the third spot and will race Terry Haddock. 

Hight sits at the top of the Funny Car field after running the elapsed-time national record of 3.793 at 338.00 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro during Friday’s qualifying. It is his third consecutive No. 1, fifth of the season, 54th of his career and first at Brainerd International Raceway . He’ll face Dale Creasy Jr. in eliminations. 

“We smoked the tires in Q3 for the first time in 11 runs, that’s impressive,” Hight said. “I think sometimes it’s a good thing to push a little on Saturday so you know your limitations for Sunday. We need to make four good runs here tomorrow and get back to the winners circle. First round is going to be killer, the track will still be cool and you’ll see 3.80s in Funny Car.” 

Matt Hagan holds the No. 2 position in his Pennzoil / Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T with his 3.807 pass at 336.57 that will have him face Cruz Pedregon in eliminations and 16-time world champion John Force is third and will be matched up with Jim Campbell. 

Rookie Gray leads the Pro Stock category with his pass of 6.607 at 208.17 in his Gray Motorsports / Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro from Friday. It was his third No. 1 qualifier. 

“All my guys have given me great equipment,” Gray said. “In racing it’s not so much about the driver anymore, it’s about the equipment you have behind you. I’ve been blessed to be put in some awesome equipment. I’ve done a small part: just let go when you see the light and push or pull. The guys have given me a fast race car. Hats off to them, they’re the reason behind all the success.”

Points leader Bo Butner is in the No. 2 spot with his pass of 6.617 at 207.69 in his Jim Butner's Auto Chevy Camaro and will face David River in the first round. Veteran Allen Johnson is third and will compete against Mark Hogan. 

Reigning Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Jerry Savoie is qualified second with a 6.882 at 193.57 from Saturday qualifying and will have to get past Mike Berry in the first round. Matt Smith is third and will see Fred Camarena in the first round. 
Eliminations at the 36th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals begin Sunday at noon ET. Catch the action live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) at 2 p.m. ET. 

Here are the brackets and first-round pairings from tomorrow's action: