On Friday night, JFR teammates Brittany Force and Robert Hight thrilled the crowd at Brainerd Int’l Raceway with a pair of stellar runs to take early leads in Top Fuel and Funny Car at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. Force, in her Monster Energy dragster, ran a 3.685 to lead an extremely competitive Top Fuel field. Force, on pace for her sixth low qualifier award of the season, had the quickest car, but her margin over the rest of the field is slim. With 15 cars in the field, the low qualifier will get a bye run in Sunday’s opening round.
Justin Ashley also found the 3.6s with his Phillips Connect dragster, running a 3.691 to move into the No. 2 spot while Denver winner Leah Pruett is third after a 3.702. Overall, the top 12 qualifiers in Top Fuel are separated by a tenth of a second with Tony Schumacher, Billy Torrence, Antron Brown, Josh Hart, and Doug Kalitta rounding out the top eight. Championship contenders Steve Torrence and Mike Salinas are two of the drivers who are not qualified in the top half of the field so they’ll both look to improve during Saturday’s two qualifying runs.
Hight has been the performance leader for most of the season in Funny Car so it’s not a big surprise that he’s leading the field after running a strong 3.865, 330.31 during Friday’s twilight qualifying session. Hight has almost locked up the top spot in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs but he’s still intent on collecting every available qualifying bonus point that he can.
The top five Funny Cars are in the 3.8s including recent Bob Tasca III (3.881), Ron Capps (3.885), Matt Hagan (3.893), and J.R. Todd (3.899). Todd’s DHL Toyota also has the fastest run of the day in Funny Car at 333.91 mph. Nearly every driver in the field made a competitive run as nine Funny Cars found the threes. Some of the exceptions including John Force, who ran a best of 4.121 and Chad Green, who is fighting to make it into the Countdown to the Championship. Green did not get down the track on either run with his Daniel Wilkerson-tuned Mustang.
In addition to Top Fuel and Funny Car, the Brainerd event also includes the Mountain Motor Pro Stock class and the FuelTech Pro Mod Series presented by D Wagon, plus a full compliment of Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series sportsman racing.
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.
2021 EVENT WINNERS
Steve Torrence, Top Fuel; John Force, Funny Car; Steve Johnson, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
3.640 seconds by Leah Pruett, Aug. 2017; 334.90 mph by B. Force, Aug. 2021
3.793 seconds by Robert Hight, Aug. 2017; 338.00 mph by Hight, Aug. 2017
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, August 20 at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, August 21.
SUNDAY August 20, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 1:30 p.m. (ET)
SUNDAY, August 21, FOX network will televise 3 hours of finals coverage at 3:30 p.m. (ET)