COMMERCE, Ga. – J.R. Todd rolled to his first No. 1 qualifier in nearly two years on Saturday, taking the top spot in Funny Car at the 40th and final Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
Billy Torrence (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Scotty Pollacheck (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also qualified No. 1 in their respective categories at the third race of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season as the NHRA celebrates the history of Atlanta Dragway at the track’s final Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals race.
Todd’s last No. 1 qualifier came in 2019, but he powered to the top on Saturday, going 3.982 seconds at 325.69 mph in his 11,000-horsepower DHL Toyota Camry. Todd will race Alexis DeJoria to start the final raceday at Atlanta Dragway on Sunday after earning his 13th career No. 1 qualifier.
After winning in Gainesville to open the year, a second victory this early in the season would put Todd on a good early-season path.
“It shows that (crew chiefs) Todd Smith, Jon (Oberhofer) and the team have their act together. It benefitted us being the last pair,” Todd said. “Todd made some tuneup changes to slow the car down and it put up a good number. This place has always been tricky and it’s nice to be starting from No. 1. We’ll see what the conditions bring tomorrow, but it could be a good points day for us.”
Bob Tasca III, who won the most recent event in Las Vegas, was the only other Funny Car driver to make a 3-second run, going 3.999 seconds at 320.81 mph. Matt Hagan moved to third with a pass of 4.001 seconds at 314.02 mph.
Torrence Racing dominated Top Fuel qualifying in Atlanta, with Billy Torrence taking the top spot in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster and his son, Steve Torrence, following closely behind. Billy Torrence earned his fourth career No. 1 qualifier by going 3.815 seconds at 323.43 mph, while Steve Torrence, the three-time reigning champ in the class, was right behind with a 3.817-second run at 323.66 mph. He is the most recent race winner and will be looking to be the last Top Fuel winner at Atlanta Dragway, which is also the site of his first win in the class. Mike Salinas qualified in the third position by going 3.841 seconds at 317.05 mph.
“These yellow (No. 1 qualifier) hats are easier to come by than those winner hats, but I’ll take this one,” said Billy Torrence, who has six career wins.
It was again Anderson on top of Pro Stock qualifying, taking No. 1 honors for the third straight race in his DENSO Chevrolet Camaro. Anderson, who has four career wins at Atlanta Dragway, impressed with a run of 6.548 seconds at 210.41 mph to take the top spot for the 109th time in his standout career. He’ll face off with Fernando Cuadra Sr. in the first round of eliminations as Anderson seeks his second victory this year.
Deric Kramer qualified second after going 6.554 seconds at 210.21 mph in the opening round of eliminations, while Aaron Stanfield bumped up to third thanks to his final qualifying pass of 6.555 seconds at 209.56 mph.
“We’re out here having fun in the beautiful weather here today at Atlanta Dragway,” Anderson said. “Everyone is happy and it’s working out great. Three in a row, you can’t complain about that at all. This is one of my favorite tracks and a lot of history here, and I’d like to make some more tomorrow. This DENSO Chevy is running great and hopefully, we can find a way to four rounds tomorrow and have a little glory at the end of the day.”
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Pollacheck continued the strong start to his season, picking up his first No. 1 qualifier on his DENSO/Strutmasters/Matt Smith Racing EBR with a run of 6.779 seconds at 199.20 mph. It also gives Pollacheck his third career No. 1 qualifier and comes on the heels of his final round appearance in Las Vegas. Pollacheck will meet Jerry Savoie in the opening round of eliminations.
Joey Gladstone narrowly qualified second thanks to his career-best run of 6.780 seconds at 198.20 mph, while Andrew Hines jumped to third in the final session with a run of 6.809 seconds and a career-best speed of 200.11 mph.
“We do have an awesome bike,” Pollacheck said. “Matt and Angie (Smith) are making this program work so well and all four bikes are running (well). The bike is awesome and running great, as long as I don’t screw it up.”
In the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service, Khalid Al-Balooshi qualified No. 1 in his Bahrain 1 Racing Camaro, going 5.713 seconds at 250.37 mph.