Racers got their one free weather pass Friday at the Texas NHRA Fall Nationals, with prime conditions at Texas Motorplex leading to a quartet of broken track records but with Saturday’s forecast calling for highs in the mid-90s, teams will have to adjust to a whole new reality on the final day of qualifying.
With Sunday racing scheduled to start at noon, what the teams learn in their two passes today will definitely play a hand in Sunday’s final eliminations, and it’s a good bet that the times of all four low qualifiers – Austin Prock, Matt Hagan, Erica Enders, and Angelle Sampey – will stick it out through the balance of qualifying and Saturday will serve as a learning day.
Prock’s Joe Barlam- and Rahn Tobler-tuned Montana Brand/Rocky Mountain Twist team recorded a solid 3.80 in Friday’s warmer conditions before turning up the wick for the evening pass, so Prock says he feels comfortable already.
Clay Millican and Prock’s teammate, Brittany Force were just a few ticks behind him Friday night and Force, like Prock, made a solid run in the daytime, aa 3.77 that was second best for the opening session whereas Millican, whose Parts Plus dragster has begun to find the 3.60s with regularity, didn’t make it down in Q1.
Hagan, whose 3.93 in Q1 was the third best of the opening round, got a measure of confidence by going low in the evening session, but of the 10 drivers who ran in the threes, seven of them made three-second runs on both passes.
Points leader Robert Hight and his Auto Club Chevy had the second-best run of both sessions that while it didn’t earn them the pole, certainly had to give them a morale boost as well.
Pro Stock points leader Ender sits in her usual spot atop the field which has her rivals at KB Racing apparently trying to maneuver their quickest starting-line gun, Dallas Glenn, into a first-round duel with her to stop her Countdown rampage.
Glenn shut off early on both runs Friday trying for the No. 16 spot, but just missed, landing 17th and currently not qualified. With Enders expected to stay in the op spot, Glenn will need to run better than 6.609 but not quicker than 6.602 to the current sweet spot.
Sampey ripped to a track-record 6.72 and, were it not for a riding error – double-clutching the throttle – she well could have had the best run of the night session, too, which went instead to points leader Matt Smith.
Smith was in the 6.70s on both runs – a 6.79 followed by a 6.73 – both at a track-speed-record 203 mph, so there’s no doubt he has the power to hang with Sampey. As she is in the points, Smith’s wife, Angie, sits third and continues to be a huge threat to the entire field.
2021 EVENT WINNERS:
Justin Ashley, Top Fuel; Ron Capps, Funny Car; Greg Anderson, Pro Stock; Matt Smith, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST EVENT VICTORIES:
Tony Schumacher, 6, TF; John Force, 6, FC; Greg Anderson, 6 PS; Eddie Krawiec and Jerry Savoie, 3, PSM.
SATURDAY, Oct. 15
Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series eliminations at 8 a.m.
Top Alcohol qualifying at 9:30 a.m. and eliminations at 2 p.m.
Top Fuel Harley qualifying at 10:30 a.m. and eliminations at 3:05 p.m.
Factory Showdown Showdown qualifying at 10:45 a.m. and eliminations at 6 p.m.
FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series qualifying at 11:15 a.m. and eliminations at 3:30 p.m.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying at noon p.m. and 4 p.m.
SUNDAY, Oct. 16
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series eliminations begin at noon p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 16, FOX Sports 1 (FS1) will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 10 a.m. ET and three hours of finals coverage at 10:30 p.m. ET