Friday’s opening round of under-the-lights pro qualifying presented a challenge to NHRA’s pro teams, but they’ll have two more shots today to conquer Bandimere Speedway as the fields are set for the Dodge//SRT NHRA Mile-High Nationals.
There were not a lot of full runs on Friday night during the opening round of qualifying in Denver, but even the teams that didn’t make full runs, hopefully, gained enough data to make the necessary adjustments for what should be an exciting final day of qualifying at the Dodge//SRT NHRA Mile-Hight Nationals.
Teams in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock Motorcycle as well as Pro Mod and Factory Stock, will help provide a full day of activity as they conclude qualifying at picturesque Bandimere Speedway. Saturday will also feature the start of final eliminations for racers in the Lucas Oil sportsman series, leading up to another highly anticipated nighttime pro qualifying session.
One driver who did not have problems on Friday is reigning Top Fuel world champion and defending Denver winner Steve Torrence who rocketed to the top of the qualifying sheet with a 3.77 from his Capco Contractors dragster. Since he is safely in the field, Torrence, who is also the runaway leader in the battle for the 2021 Camping World NHRA Top Fuel title, will almost certainly use both of today’s runs to refine his combination for Sunday’s final eliminations.
Joey Haas ran early in Friday’s session and drove to a 4.05 in the Totten Motorsports dragster. Little did he know at the time, that his run would hold up as the second quickest of the round. Antron Brown grabbed the final bonus point of the round with a slowing 4.180. Brown, like everyone else in Top Fuel, will look to post a representative qualifying time.
Pro Stock and Pro Mod racer Alex Laughlin, making his nitro debut this weekend in Scott Palmer’s dragster, did not get to make a run last night. Laughlin completed his licensing runs less than a week ago so he’s more than eager to get a run under his belt in actual competition.
The Funny Car class enjoyed much more success than their Top Fuel counterparts last night with Matt Hagan, Alexis DeJoria, and Ron Capps each recording three second runs. Hagan wheeled his Dodge Charger to a 3.966 while DeJoria followed with a 3.982 and Capps with a 3.986. Paul Lee is also solidly in the field with a 4.045 from his Dodge Charger.
Incoming point leader Bob Tasca III smoked the tires, a fate shared by JFR drivers John Force and Robert Hight as well as Norwalk champion Cruz Pedregon. Expect to see much shuffling in the qualifying order today as drivers take aim at Hagan’s current pole-sitting elapsed time.
Reigning world champ Matt Smith is also the provisional leader in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class following a strong 7.145-second performance on his Denso Buell. Smith also topped 188-mph so he’s the leader in that category as well. There has never been a 7.0 second run or a 190 mph pass in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class at Bandimere Speedway and Smith, or one of the other leading contenders could break one or both of those barriers.
Lined up behind Smith is Andrew Hines (7.205), Angie Smith (7.210), and Eddie Krawiec (7.216). One name that is missing from the chart is Steve Johnson, who is coming off a win in Charlotte and a runner-up finish at the Norwalk event three weeks ago. Johnson made a competitive run on Friday evening, but it was disqualified when his Suzuki did not pass fuel check. Based on his performance over the last few events, Johnson should be in a position to challenge for the top spot.
In the E3 Pro Mod series, Steve Jackson is the early leader with a 6.038 in his Bahrain1 Camaro while David Barton holds down the top spot in the Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown.
You can catch the action all weekend on FOX Sports 1 and NHRA.tv.
You can follow NHRA on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to get a closer look at the action.
Saturday, July 17, FS1 will televise qualifying coverage from 2 to 3:30 p.m. (ET)
Sunday, June 18, FS1 will televise qualifying coverage from 3 to 4 p.m. (ET)
Sunday, July 18, FS1 will televise final eliminations from 4 to 7 p.m. (ET)