John and Brittany Force, Greg Anderson and Scotty Pollacheck No. 1 qualifiers at Four-Wide Nationals
For just the third time ever, it will be a Force atop both nitro classes, as John Force grabbed the top spot in Funny Car on Saturday at zMAX Dragway, joining his daughter, Brittany, who stayed at the front in Top Fuel after her track-record pass on Friday. Greg Anderson finished as the No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock for the fourth straight race, while Scotty Pollacheck qualified No. 1 in Pro Stock Motorcycle for the second straight race during a record-setting day in the class.
Brittany Force began the day in the No. 1 spot in Top Fuel with her Friday track-record pass of 3.662 and her Dave Grubnic-tuned Flav-R-Pac dragster stayed there as no one was able to get to within eight-hundredths of her field-leading pass. Force, the No. 1 qualifier at the four-wide event in Las Vegas last month, collected her 22nd career pole position but failed to make it down the track on either pass Saturday.
Steve Torrence, whose Q3 3.742 was the best run of the day, remained No. 2 with his Friday 3.683 and Leah Pruett third with her 3.718. Gatornationals champ Josh Hart bettered his Friday 3.77 with a 3.75 to take the No. 4 spot just ahead of Billy Torrence, who fired off a 3.760 in the final session.
Doug Kalitta had some anxious moments as the 49-time tour winner started the final session in the perilous No. 15 spot after runs of 4.23 and 4.18 then was bumped out by Joe Morrison and Artie Allen. Kalitta, who had just seven DNQs in his 527 previous starts and none since the 2010 season, easily powered his way into the field with a 3.83 in the next pair. The run was not without incident for Kalitta, who oiled the track and was assessed a 15-point penalty; he’s already accumulated 45 penalty points this season.
After just one Funny Car driver, Alexis DeJoria, was able to crack into the three-second zone on Friday’s lone qualifier, she got a lot more company in the sub-four club on Saturday.
John Force and the BlueDef Chevy team took over the qualifying lead in Q2 from DeJoria’s 3.930 with a 3.904 in Q2 and padded that lead in Q3 with a 3.902 for his 161st No. 1 qualifying position. DeJoria wound up No. 2.
Ron Capps ran a pair of 3.94s Saturday to take the No. 3 spot with the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge while J.RE. Todd joined the three-second group with a 3.946 in the DHL Toyota for the fourth position. Behind them on the grid are Tim Wilkerson (3.952) and Cruz Pedregon (3.957). Las Vegas four-wide winner Bob Tasca III wasn’t able to crack the threes and wound up seventh.
Three-time world champ Robert Hight had a cursed qualifying effort with a best run of just 5.413 that’s saddled him in the No. 15 qualifying spot while reigning world champ Matt Hagan is a disappointing 11th after a 4.058 best recorded in Q3.
Pro Stock didn’t see any sweeping changes, as Greg Anderson’s 6.524 at 210.50 from Friday held up. It maintains Anderson’s perfect mark in qualifying in 2021, and gives him the first top qualifier in his new HendrickCars.com look on his Chevrolet Camaro and the 110th top spot in his standout career.
Anderson, who has two wins this year and is the points leader, maintained his terrific start to 2021 and is feeling good moving into eliminations, especially after running a 6.535 in the final session on Saturday. He went 6.536 during the second session, boasting plenty of consistency as well.
“This gives me a lot of confidence,” Anderson said. “I love racing at this track and we’ve got a lot of experience here, so we should do well. I’m looking forward to hopefully having a big day tomorrow. This car has been a dream to drive all year, so we’ll win if we can get a win (on Sunday) for Rick Hendrick and this HendrickCars.com Camaro.”
The biggest jump on Saturday came from defending back-to-back world champ Erica Enders, who moved all the way to the third spot after a subpar Friday run. She went 6.534 at 211.59, making the quickest run of the day during the second qualifying round.
Her Elite Motorsports teammate Aaron Stanfield maintained the second spot with his 6.533 at 210.67 from Friday. Kyle Koretsky’s 6.535 from Friday kept him in the top five, while Chris McGaha jumped up to the fifth position on his final run of the day, going 6.541 at 210.01. That run was the second-best of the final session behind only Anderson. Matt Hartford went 6.544 in the final session to bump up to seventh.
In the midst of a series of the fastest passes in Pro Stock Motorcycle history, Scotty Pollacheck raced to the No. 1 position in the class for the second straight race. His 6.736 at 201.16 during the second session on his Denso/Strutmaster/Matt Smith Racing EBR gave Pollacheck the sixth-quickest run of all-time and his fourth career No. 1 qualifier. The run also obliterated Joey Gladstone’s track record, which was set all of one day ago.
“The four-wide races are always tough, but I love racing in them and I would love to close the deal on Sunday,” Pollacheck said. “I’ve been close before, but I’ve never got that trophy at the end of the day. Hopefully we can change that (on Sunday).”
What else happened in the class on Saturday? Well, a lot, especially during an incredible second session.
Eddie Krawiec finished with the fastest pass in Pro Stock Motorcycle history, a record that was re-set five times on Saturday. Krawiec did it in both of his runs, topping 203 mph on both occasions. He finished with a spectacular run of 6.771 at 203.49 to qualify sixth on his Vance & HInes/Mission Foods Buell, topping his previous run of 203.37.
Matt Smith, Hector Arana Jr. and Andrew Hines all posted career-best speeds of more than 202 mph, with each setting the speed record at one point on Saturday.
In all, the six fastest runs in class history came on Saturday, as well as seven of the top 10 and 10 of the 15 fastest runs.
Along with that, Steve Johnson qualified second with a 6.738 at 196.90, making the seventh-quickest pass in Pro Stock Motorcycle history and the quickest-ever run for a Suzuki. Smith’s 6.740 at 201.73 put him third and wrapped up a huge day for the defending champ. That run was the eighth-quickest ever, while his earlier pass of 202.18 momentarily set the record and now is the fourth-fastest in class history.
Hector Arana is fourth with a blast of 6.761 at 202.70 in the final qualifying session, giving him the third-fastest run ever for PSM. Joey Gladstone, who was Friday’s No. 1 qualifier, dropped him all the way to fifth in the midst of Saturday’s historic day with a 6.763. On a great note, Gladstone did make his first 200-mph run to become the final member of the Denso 200-mph club.