Professional qualifying kicked off last night for the 65th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at historic Lucas Oil Raceway. Nighttime was the right time for Brittany Force, Jack Beckman, Jason Line, and Andrew Hines, who lead their respective eliminators after the first of five sessions.
Brittany Force, who has been the low qualifier five times this year including the most recent race in Brainerd, lit up the scoreboards with a 3.670 in her David Grubnic-tuned Advance Auto Parts dragster. Force is seeking her first U.S. Nationals title and the 2017 Mello Yello champ is also looking to protect the No. 2 spot in the Countdown to the Championship standings. Force and third-ranked Doug Kalitta were separated by just two points coming into the final event of the regular season. The top 11 cars are already qualified at 3.79 or quicker and championship contenders Clay Millican and Austin Prock are not yet qualified for the 16-car field.
Ten Funny Car drivers ran in the three-second zone last night but none of them were quicker than “Fast Jack” Beckman, who drove the Infinite Hero Dodge to a 3.785 to lead teammate Ron Capps, who is close behind at 3.882. Teammates J.R. Todd and Shawn Langdon, as well as points leader Robert Hight are also in the 3.8s in what is shaping up to be a very quick field. One driver to watch today will be Bob Tasca III, who has had one of the best cars in the class this summer but did not make a full run last night. Tommy Johnson Jr., the winner of two events this season, is in a similar position after slowing to a 4.368 last night.
Two weeks ago, in Brainerd, Jason Line turned in one of the most dominant performances of his career in winning the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals . A change of venue has done little to slow Line, who topped the qualifying sheet on Friday with a 6.570 in his Summit Racing Equipment Camaro. Line currently has a two-hundredths cushion over Erica Enders, who he defeated in the Brainerd final. With 21 Pro Stock entries competing for just 16 spots, the battle just to make the field will be intense over the next two days.
After opening the season with seven wins in nine events, Andrew Hines continued to roll by taking the provisional pole on his Harley-Davidson FXDR Pro Stock Motorcycle. Hines ran a 6.864, and he’s a hundredth quicker than No. 2 seed Matt Smith and enjoys a three-hundredths advantage against provisional No. 3 qualifier Jerry Savoie on his White Alligator Suzuki. So far, ten Pro Stock Motorcycle racers have earned six-second time slips.
In addition to the two professional rounds, Saturday’s action packed schedule at Indy will include qualifying in Pro Mod, Top Fuel Harley, Factory Stock, elimination rounds in the Lucas Oil sportsman classes, and a host of exhibition runs and other special features.
You can catch the action later this weekend on the FOX Sports 1, beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sunday. All the action is broadcast live on NHRA.tv, and the full TV schedule is available here at any time.
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