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Matt Smith, Kyle Koretsky, Robert Hight, and Steve Torrence lead Friday qualifying at NHRA Midwest Nationals

During a stellar night of qualifying at World Wide Technology Raceway, team horsepower dominated the low e.t.'s all evening.
30 Sep 2022
David Kennedy
Race coverage
Matt Smith, Kyle Koretsky, Robert Hight, and Steve Torrence lead Friday qualifying at NHRA Midwest Nationals

From Charlotte last weekend to St Louis today, and then on to Dallas, Las Vegas, and Pomona— the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship has begun its symbolic march West for the last five races of the season. A season that culminates at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona and the Auto Club NHRA Finals, where everyone wants to be standing victorious in the winner's circle. The precious few drag strip passes left in the 2022 season ticked down with a solid Friday night qualifying session at the 2022 NHRA Midwest Nationals.

Four-time defending Top Fuel world champion Steve Torrence made his best run of the season on Friday at World Wide Technology Raceway, taking the provisional No. 1 qualifier to open the race weekend at the 11th annual NHRA Midwest Nationals.

Robert Hight (Funny Car), Kyle Koretsky (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the third of six races in the Countdown to the Championship during the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.

Here's where we stand going into Saturday's two qualifying sessions:

Pro Stock Motorcycle

After a year away from World Wide Technology raceway, the Pro Stock Motorcycle class returned with a vengeance on Friday, with defending world champ Matt Smith making an impressive run of 6.709 at 202.82 on his Denso Auto Parts Buell. That set both ends of the track record as the sun was setting in St. Louis, and the five-time world champ also made the quickest run in his standout career. Bumped back to second in points after Joey Gladstone won in Reading, Smith is determined to have a big weekend as the season hits crunch time.

“The motorcycles have evolved a lot in the last few years,” Smith said. “I’m excited to be back and it’s a fast track, and I’m looking forward to what happens tomorrow. If we have the same weather, we’re definitely going to go and swing for the 6.60s because we’ve never done that before, and we would love to do it.”

Angelle Sampey also impressed on Friday, going 6.726 at 201.67 and Angie Smith followed with a 6.748 at 201.19. Gladstone is currently seventh after his pass of 6.792.

  • 01    Matt Smith    6.709    202.82
    02    Angelle Sampey       6.726    201.67
    03    Angie Smith    6.748    201.19
    04    Eddie Krawiec    6.759    199.67
    05    Marc Ingwersen    6.785    198.82
    06    Jerry Savoie    6.791    197.42
    07    Joey Gladstone    6.792    199.32
    08    Steve Johnson    6.835    198.2
    09    Kelly Clontz    6.865    196.93
    10    Ron Tornow    6.886    193.29
    11    Karen Stoffer    6.906    195.17
    12    Jianna Evaristo    6.917    172.32
    13    Ryan Oehler    7.020    195.65

Pro Stock 

Looking to make his own late-season charge, Kyle Koretsky made a strong pass in the opening qualifying session in his Lucas Oil Chevrolet Camaro, taking the top spot with a run of 6.512 at 211.00. It puts Koretsky on track for his second No. 1 qualifier this season – and first since Phoenix in February – and third in his career. Koretsky is currently fifth in points and looking for his first win this season. Getting it at the halfway point of the Countdown to the Championship would be a huge boost to his title chances.

“That was a great first run off the trailer,” Koretsky said. “St. Louis has been pretty good to us, and the guys have been working hard on the engines. We’ve been struggling a little bit, but the guys at KB Racing have been working hard and we don’t give up. It’s cool to sit No. 1 after Friday night, but you never know out here. Everyone is tough and we’re going to give St. Louis a heck of a run.”

Defending world champ and KB Racing teammate Greg Anderson also dipped into the 6.51 range, going 6.517 at 210.44 to sit second, while two-time race winner Troy Coughlin is third after a 6.529 at 210.60. Points leader Erica Enders is currently fifth thanks to a 6.536.

  • 01    Kyle Koretsky     6.512    211
    02    Greg Anderson    6.517    210.44
    03    Troy Coughlin Jr    6.529    210.6
    04    Dallas Glenn    6.531    210.77
    05    Erica Enders    6.536    211.49
    06    Aaron Stanfield    6.539    211.16
    07    Bo Butner III    6.540    211.96
    08    Matt Hartford    6.550    210.24
    09    Mike DePalma    6.551    210.6
    10    Camrie Caruso    6.556    210.64
    11    Mason McGaha    6.564    210.8
    12    Fernando Cuadra    6.572    209.75

Funny Car 

Robert Hight quickly bounced back from his surprising second-round exit last weekend, as the Funny Car points leader delivered a massive run of 3.853 at 336.32 in his 11,000-horsepower Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS. The three-time world champion is after his fifth No. 1 spot this season and 76th in his career, as well as his eighth victory this season, and he also made the fastest Funny Car run of the 2022 season on Friday. Hight won the playoff opener in Reading and looked strong to start the weekend in St. Louis as one of only four cars to make a three-second run to open qualifying.

“(Crew chiefs) Jimmy Prock and Chris Cunningham were a little perplexed because a lot of teams weren’t making it down. But they stuck with their gameplan because they know what this car can do,” Hight said. “We amassed a pretty good lead after Reading and we gave a lot of that back last weekend. We worked hard at the shop and to come out here and make a run like that, that was very impressive.”

Hight’s teammate, 16-time world champ John Force, ran an identical 3.853 but was slightly slower with a 334.15 to put him second. Matt Hagan, the defending event winner, went 3.896 at 334.98 to slot him in the third spot.

  • 01    Robert Hight        3.853    336.32
    02    John Force       3.853    334.15
    03    Matt Hagan        3.896    334.98
    04    Cruz Pedregon        3.897    331.36
    05    Dale Creasy Jr        4.027    290.32
    06    Bobby Bode        4.189    228.85
    07    Tim Wilkerson        4.276    214.79
    08    Dan Wilkerson       4.786    149.3
    09    Terry Haddock        5.532    128.84
    10    Bob Tasca III        5.713    122.17
    11    JR Todd       7.074    89.19
    12    Alexis DeJoria        7.076    95.56
    13    Blake Alexander        7.770    92.87
    14    Jim Campbell        7.888    73.81
    15    Ron Capps       10.582    67.72

Top Fuel

Torrence powered to a run of 3.655-seconds at 327.43 in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster during the first qualifying session in St. Louis, looking to make up some ground in a hurry. If it holds, Torrence, who is currently fifth in Top Fuel points, would pick up his third top qualifier of the season and 34th in his career. Torrence, though, is trying to rack up victories in the Countdown to the Championship after falling in the second round at the first two playoff races. He’s had recent success in St. Louis as the defending event winner and will hope to add to that this weekend.

"That’s a year’s work that goes into a run like that,” Torrence said. “These guys have worked really hard to get the car where it’s at. We’re behind the eight-ball right now, but we’re going to do everything we can. We didn’t get to be the four-time champs by doing dumb stuff, but we have backed ourselves into a corner.

"The class has really stepped up and everyone is so quick and so fast right now. We needed to run well and we're trying to get ourselves back in there. That was great for us to do that tonight."

Doug Kalitta is currently in the second spot with a stout 3.684 at 334.32, while Clay Millican rounds out the top three after going 3.703 at 334.24. Points leader Justin Ashley is currently 16th.

  • 01    Steve Torrence        3.655    327.43
    02    Doug Kalitta      3.684    334.32
    03    Clay Millican       3.703    334.24
    04    Leah Pruett      3.743    325.45
    05    Shawn Langdon        3.746    327.74
    06    Buddy Hull        3.822    315.78
    07    Kyle Wurtzel        3.824    321.42
    08    Josh Hart       4.035    226.32
    09    Jacob Opatmy       4.669    157.96
    10    Tony Schumacher       4.828    147.34
    11    Mike Salinas        5.139    132.09
    12    Austin Prock       6.111    104.29
    13    Scott Palmer       6.374    102.34
    14    Doug Foley       6.460    105.22
    15    Antron Brown       6.831    94.74
    16    Justin Ashley        6.984    82.66
    17    Lex Joon       7.362    93.4
    18    Brittany Force       8.879    71.6

Qualifying continues at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday at the NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway.