CONCORD, N.C. – John Force continued his pursuit of his 17th NHRA Funny Car championship by rocketing to the provisional No. 1 spot in qualifying Friday evening for the DeWalt Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway.
Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) and Steve Johnson (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also provisional No. 1 qualifiers in their respective divisions on the opening day of the DeWalt Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals.
Force piloted his Peak Antifreeze entry to the top of the Funny Car division ladder with a 3.860-second pass at 332.18 mph. Force has three wins this year and a fourth victory would be a huge help the 72-year-old veteran’s pursuit of another Funny Car title.
“We’re just trying to stay in the game,” Force said. “We got to follow everybody. I got to see what Jimmy Prock could do. Daniel Hood and my guys, I give credit out there. The guys that run these cars get the credit. We’re just a body and shoes, right?
“I like to at least be in the hunt. We’re in the hunt.”
Force’s teammate, Robert Hight, currently sits second thanks to his 3.878-second run at 330.07 mph. Cruz Pedregon put together a solid 3.879-second run at 323.58 mph and currently sits third. Matt Hagan, making his return to NHRA competition after a bout with COVID-19, currently sits fourth.
Force’s daughter, Brittany Force, jumped to the top of the Top Fuel field in the final pass of the evening with a 3.662-second pass, which matched the zMAX Dragway track record she set in May, at 331.85 mph. The engine in her Monster Energy dragster exploded just as she crossed the line, but she still had enough speed to secure the provisional No. 1 spot.
“We blew our shit up and that costs a lot, but we’re currently No. 1,” Brittany Force said. “Right now it’s about gaining as many bonus points as we can. David Grubnic, I’ll tell ya, he said we want to do what we did last week in Reading. He said our number and we actually stepped up on it. To be able to run a 66 like that, that’s what we did all last weekend. Pretty impressive for the entire Monster Energy team.”
Should she end Saturday as the No. 1 qualifier, it will be her eighth-straight Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier.
Clay Millican currently sits second in the Top Fuel class with a 3.708-second run at 322.96 mph. Mike Salinas was third at 3.709 seconds and 308.92 mph. Spencer Massey, making his return to Top Fuel competition, is currently qualified fifth.
Stanfield sits at the top of the Pro Stock field after powering to a 6.575-second run at 208.59 mph. Despite having four Pro Stock triumphs during his career, Stanfield is still looking for his first No. 1 qualifier.
“I got on the radio after the run and I said, ‘That was a really nice run.’ Obviously it was,” Stanfield said. “I was surprised to see it stand with some really good race cars behind me. It was a cool feeling for sure.”
Defending Pro Stock champion Erica Enders qualified second with a 6.578-second pass at 208.49 mph, with championship leader Greg Anderson currently qualified third with a 6.580-second pass at 208.39 mph.
Johnson, the current Pro Stock Motorcycle point leader, rocketed to the top of the class qualifying standings with a 6.807-second run at 196.47 mph. Should his time hold it would be Johnson’s second No. 1 qualifier of the season. He’s never earned more than one No. 1 qualifier in a season during his career.
“That makes us feel really good. Our team is just on the moon,” said Johnson, who won last weekend at Maple Grove. “When you perform and do each one of the tasks that you are designed to do, then everybody is going to be really happy with the results. That gives me confidence.”
Angelle Sampey currently sits second after a 6.848-second run at 195.05 mph, followed by defending Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Matt Smith at 6.852 seconds and 197.42 mph.