NHRA Carolina Nationals Feels the Force
Brittany Force made it a clean sweep of No. 1 qualifier honors this year at zMAX Dragway on Saturday, after the defending NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Top Fuel champion roared to the top in qualifying for the NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by WIX Filters.
Force's 3.7-second, 330.72-mile-per-hour pass in the final round of qualifying bested Steve Torrence's Friday run by a scant .004 seconds. For a driver looking to establish momentum for next season, nothing was better than an 11,000-horsepower Saturday-afternoon drive at the Bellagio of drag strips.
"Our team has been perfect this weekend," Force said. "I'm really hoping we're going to turn a corner. We made four consistent runs. I've got to thank my entire team. They've been working so hard. I'd like to get us back in the winner's circle. … A win (on Sunday) would be huge. There's three races left and every driver wants to end the season on a good note. We want to move up that ladder as much as we can. We always seem to do well in cool conditions. … This is what every driver and team wants. Stealing that top spot is very big for our team."
Tommy Johnson Jr. bumped Ron Capps off the No. 1 position in Funny Car on Saturday, after Johnson posted a 3.873-second, 329.10-mph run to conclude a pair of ground-shaking rounds of Saturday time trials. Johnson's pole-winning pass gives the veteran consecutive No. 1 qualifier honors for the first time in his career.
"We've got a really good race car right now and the guys are doing such a great job," Johnson said. "This is pretty special. My mom has been in the hospital a lot over the summer and this is the first time I've been able to come and see her. She's here at the track this weekend so it's pretty special to have her out here. I'm proud of (being fastest), but (my family) is way more proud of this than I am."
The final round of Pro Stock qualifying saw Drew Skillman knock Erica Enders off the No. 1 qualifier spot with a 6.509-second, 211.30-mph pass.
"We knew we were limited on time in this deal," Skillman said. "That takes a little of the pressure off. We're trying our best to finish this year off well. This is a great start for race day. … This race track is great when it's cool. It's definitely loose when it's hot, but it's set up to break records when the weather's like it is now."
Pro Stock Motorcycle pole winner Eddie Krawiec maintained the No. 1 spot thanks to his 6.806-second, 197.87-mph run on Friday.
"I had a good motorcycle coming into the race," Krawiec said. "We made some good runs on Friday. We made what I think are all of the changes in the right direction. It wasn't as clean as I wanted today, but we were fortunate enough to hang onto the spot. There's going to be some great racing tomorrow. It's definitely a game changer for the Countdown. Whoever can go the most rounds is going to be in a good position going forward. I think we've got a handle on my bike after the fourth session."