The St. Louis event represents the third event in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, which means for many NHRA pro teams, it’s a make or break weekend. The championship battles in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock are wide open which means contending teams are fighting for every available qualifying point.
On Friday night, Mike Salinas fired the biggest shot of the night when he drove his Scrappers dragster to a 3.652. Perhaps more impressive than his elapsed time is the fact that Salinas holds a full five-hundredths advantage over current No. 2 qualifier, Steve Torrence.
It takes a run of 3.770 or quicker to crack the top half of the field and that’s something that points leader Brittany Force will be looking to do today after she smoked the tires in her Monster Energy dragster yesterday. Force has been the low qualifier at the last eight NHRA Camping World Series events.
A few other drivers that bear watching are Leah Pruett, Clay Millican, and Shawn Langdon. All potential race winners, they are each currently not qualified for the tough field, which has 20 entries vying for just 16 spots.
After just one run, the Funny Car field is already extremely competitive with the top six drivers separated by just two hundredths of a second.
Ron Capps powered to a 3.888 for the top spot, just a thousandth of a second ahead of second ahead of teammate Matt Hagan. With just five points separating Capps and Hagan in the points standings, every qualifying bonus point is critical, especially with just four races left after St. Louis.
Capps and Hagan are joined at the top of the qualifying chart by a surprising Bobby Bode, who made the best run of his short career with a 3.891 and 2018 St. Louis winner Robert Hight, who drove to a 3.902.
Charlotte winner Tim Wilkerson, Bob Tasca III, J.R. Todd, and Blake Alexander are also comfortably seated in the top half of the Funny Car field.
Two drivers who are looking to make a big move up the charts are Alexis DeJoria and John Force, who didn’t get to the finish line under power on Friday night.
Predictably, all 16 Pro Stock qualifiers are within a tenth of a second with championship leader Greg Anderson leading the way with a 6.536 in his HendrickCars.com Camaro. Anderson is not only seeking a fifth Pro Stock championship, but he’s also on the verge of becoming the class’ all-time wins leader. Anderson recently tied Warren Johnson with his 97th victory.
Coming off his first win last week in Charlotte, Kyle Koretsky continues to play a hot hand with a 6.538 in his Lucas Oil/Nitro Fish Camaro. Koretsky, who has moved to No. 3 in the standings, leads fellow championship contender Erica Enders, who is currently No. 3 with a 6.545 with her Elite Performance Camaro.
In addition to the Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock classes, the St. Louis event also includes the Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown, as well as a Mountain Motor Pro Stock and an Outlaw Pro Mod exhibition.
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.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 25 at 1:15 and 3:45 p.m. CT. Final eliminations are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. CT on Sunday, Sept. 25.
TELEVISION SCHEDULE: (All times Eastern)
Qualifying: Sunday, Sept. 26 (1-2 p.m.) FS1
Finals: Sunday, Sept. 26 (2-5 p.m.) FS1