Brittany Force leads what already is the quickest field of Top Fueler ever qualified for a 16-car NHRA show, with her track-record 3.645 fronting the pack and T.J. Zizzo on the bump spot with a 3.782 with two sessions still to go Sunday. The previous quickest field, established at the 2017 U.S. Nationals, sported a 3.808 final spot.
Force, who was the low qualifier Friday night with a 3.670 in her Dave Grubnic-tuned Advance Auto Parts dragster, momentarily lost her No. 1 spot early in Q3 to Billy Torrence’s sizzling 3.655, which broke Clay Millican’s two-year-old track record of 3.663, but Force lowered the boom on her answering run alongside Steve Torrence’s third-best 3.656.
“I saw Billy go out ahead of us and put a 3.65 on the board but before the run Grubnic told me what his plan was and what it would run if it went don there, and he was right on,” she said. “I jumped out at the other end and was pumped when they told me what it had run.”
“We’ve been struggling with consistency, so to be able to make three outstanding runs feels really good. There’s a lot of pressure with it being Indy and the Countdown coming up, and we have a lot of people from Advance Auto Parts out here, but my sister Courtney is out here with our family this weekend and it feels good to have her here, and there’s nothing better than her support.”
Force’s run is the sixth quickest in Top Fuel history and just one-thousandth of a second off her personal best recorded two years ago in St. Louis.
Mike Salinas, who set the track speed record at 333.00 in Q2, followed with a 3.680 in Q3 for the No. 4 spot. The old track speed record was 330.31 mph by Tony Schumacher in 2016.
It takes an incredible 3.701, the e.t. that Leah Pritchett put on the board in Q3, to be in the top half of the field.
Day-long cloud cover conspired to aid a wave of strong performances in Q2 with Steve Torrence running 3.670 to match Force’s Friday best, but his slower speed had him No. 2. Richie Crampton (3.696) and Billy Torrence (3.697) also ran in the 3.60s as did Antron Brown at 3.678, but Brown’s time was invalidated by a timing system error. Nonplussed by the setback, crew chief Mark Oswald got Brown back into the zone with a 3.698 in Q3.
Rookie Austin Prock, whose Montana Brand team lost all computer data from their Friday tire-shaker then smoked the tires in Q2, rebounded with a 3.742 to make the field. Similarly, Clay Millican, whose Friday run was lost to a clutch-system malfunction, fired his way into the show with a 3.706 in Q2.