Obviously, the No. 1 qualifier is expected to win Round 1 (and many more) at every national event, and while that is often true, there are exceptions to the rule. Let’s take a look.
In Top Fuel, Tony Schumacher has the most No. 1 spots with 88 of them. “The Sarge” then went on to post a record of 71–17 in Round 1, which is about 81%. Not bad.
In Funny Car, it’s no surprise that John Force leads the way with 161 top spots, and “the Champ” is a lofty 151–10 in Round 1 after qualifying No. 1. That computes to about 94%, which is very good.
In the Pro Stock ranks, Warren Johnson set the pace with 138 No. 1 spots, and “the Professor” converted 117 of those into opening-round wins. So, at 117–21, he had about an 85% success rate.
On two wheels, Angelle Sampey is the leader with 52 No. 1 spots and a 46-6 record in Round 1 (88%). Eddie Krawiec is second in the bike class with his 48 pole positions, and he is a dazzling 46-2, which is an amazing 96% win ratio.
Those are the leaders, but let’s add to that list with some other notables like Greg Anderson and Bob Glidden, for example. Anderson is second best in the class with 110 No. 1 spots and a 103–7 first-round record. Wow, that’s almost 94%. For his part, Glidden had 102 top spots (third-most in Pro Stock), and he had a 94–8 record (92%).
And one last note, if I may (of course I may…it’s my column!!), I have to mention Lee Shepherd. Sure, he only ran 74 Pro Stock races, but he qualified No. 1 at 21 of them (28.3%) and he never — yes I said never — lost in the first round as the No. 1 qualifier. Let me do the math … 100%. And, for his entire Pro Stock career, his average starting spot at national events was 2.8. Wow!!
Now that we have all of that, let’s summarize and answer the question. Among the leaders, W.J.’s 21 losses are the most for any No. 1 qualifier, and Schumacher's 17 are second-most. Cruz Pedregon would be third with 12, and Kenny Bernstein would be fourth with 11.
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