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Courtney Force clinched the No. 1 qualifying spot for the Funny Car class Saturday at the NHRA Southern Nationals Powered by Mello Yello at Atlanta Dragway.
Clay Millican (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock), and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the seventh of 24 events on the 2018 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
Force raced her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro to a pass of 3.932 seconds at 324.51 mph during the final round of qualifying. This is her fourth No. 1 qualifier season and second consecutive at the track.
“To be honest, I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to improve after yesterday,” Force stated. “Coming out today we had some cloud cover which was great and laid down some numbers. I’m proud of my team and crew chiefs, [Brian] Corradi and [Dan] Hood, for laying it down on that last run. It feels good on the last run to get it fixed up and to go to the top spot like that.”
Force will face Jeff Diehl in round one of eliminations on Sunday. Teammate Robert Hight locked in the No. 2 spot after a 3.952 run at 327.59 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro. Tommy Johnson Jr. is seeded third.
Millican’s second qualifying pass of 3.758 at 331.12 in his Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster stood strong on Saturday for the No. 1 Top Fuel spot. This is his third No. 1 qualifier of the season and 13th of his career. He seeks to secure his first career victory at Atlanta Dragway.
“We held in there and got the green hat,” Millican said. “We are definitely looking for the yellow hat tomorrow. We went out this morning and made a nice solid run and Brittany [Force] was knocking on the door of taking the No. 1 spot away.”
He will face-off against Audrey Worm Sunday morning in the first round. Defending world champion Brittany Force sits in the No. 2 position with a pass of 3.760 at 324.28 in her Monster Energy dragster and points leader Steve Torrence is third.
Anderson, a four-time Pro Stock world champion, remained atop the field Saturday with his pass of 6.586 at 209.69 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro from the second qualifying session on Friday. He seeks to secure his first victory of the season and 91st of his career.
“I still have a very fast and very consistent race car,” Anderson stated. “Glad to be No. 1 to set the field for tomorrow. I desperately need a good race day, but I feel positive that we’ve learned a lot about the race track over the weekend. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Anderson will race Val Smeland in the first round of eliminations. Drew Skillman powered his Ray Skillman Chevrolet Camaro to the No. 2 spot with his pass of 6.591 at 209.52 and will face Wally Stroupe.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana Jr. raced to the top of the two-wheeled category during the third round of qualifying with his pass of 6.806 at 198.76 on his Lucas Oil TV EBR. This is his first No. 1 qualifier of the season and 20th of his career.
“We know we have fast motorcycles,” Arana Jr. said. “We’ve been making great horsepower but have been struggling leaving the starting line. Come Q3 though, it [the bike] was dialed in and the numbers showed.”
Arana Jr. will line up against Ryan Oehler on Sunday morning. Arana Jr.'s father Hector Arana took the No. 2 position and marked the first time since 2012 they have qualified in the first and second position.
The NHRA Southern Nationals Powered by Mello Yello first round of eliminations begins at 11 a.m. on Sunday at Atlanta Dragway.
Here are the brackets and first-round pairings for tomorrow's action: