FORCE, SCHUMACHER, ANDERSON AND RIVAS LEAD BRAINERD QUALIFYING FRIDAY BRAINERD, Minn. -- Ashley Force raced to the Funny Car qualifying lead Friday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. She covered the Brainerd International Raceway dragstrip in ...
FORCE, SCHUMACHER, ANDERSON AND RIVAS LEAD BRAINERD QUALIFYING FRIDAY
BRAINERD, Minn. -- Ashley Force raced to the Funny Car qualifying lead Friday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
She covered the Brainerd International Raceway dragstrip in 4.110 seconds at 299.40 mph in her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang as she goes for her second straight No. 1 qualifying position of the season and works to improve on her fourth place points position in the Countdown to the Championship with only three races remaining in the regular season. The Countdown to 1, NHRA's playoffs, begin with the NHRA Carolinas Nationals, Sept. 11-14 at zMax Dragway at Concord near Charlotte, N.C.
"We were real happy with that run," said Force, who qualified just in front of her 14-time world champion father John, who posted a 4.112 at 301.27 in his Castrol Mustang. "You never know what the conditions will be like tomorrow. At least we don't need to be standing back tomorrow. We can really push it. We know that we are pretty well in the field. We probably won't get bumped from No. 1. We are just hoping to take the next step. We don't just want to get the No. 1. We want to go rounds on race day. No. 1 is a great feeling, but it means nothing if on race day you can't get past the first round. We are going to hope to change that this weekend in Brainerd."
She said her leading qualifying performance was so smooth it felt a little slower than usual.
"It really didn't feel like it was going that fast," she said. "The runs that are nice and smooth don't seem as fast. That run was the clearest run I think I have ever made in that Funny Car on any pass. That is the kind of run we like."
Tony Schumacher, Greg Anderson and Chris Rivas also were qualifying leaders in their respective categories at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event, which will be televised on ESPN2HD Saturday (8:30 p.m.) and Sunday (7 p.m.).
Schumacher, who swept the famed Western Swing in the month of July, took the qualifying lead in Top Fuel with a 3.864 at 312.21 in his U.S. Army dragster as he tries to earn his fourth consecutive victory.
"That was a really great run," Schumacher said. "We had an .830 60-foot time and when the car got to half-track, I knew we were going to the top spot. I didn't know if it would hold because (Steve) Torrence and Cory Mac were right behind us, but I knew it was a good run."
Local favorite Anderson, a native of Duluth, paced the Pro Stock lineup with a 6.679 at 206.76 in his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac GXP.
"On the first pass, Jason (Line, teammate) and I were both a little heavy on the clutch but on the second run, I got just about all of it," Anderson said. "This track is fantastic and I happened to make a really good run. Hopefully what worked today will also work tomorrow because there are plenty of other teams out there who are capable of catching us."
Line, from nearby Wright, was second overall with a 6.691 at 205.98 in his identically-prepared GXP.
"This is home for (me and Jason) and I know this race means a lot to him," Anderson said. "He treats every race the same but I know that this ranks high on his to-do list. He really wants to win here. I've been fortunate enough to win here and would like to do it again. Hopefully, one of us can get it done this weekend."
Rivas rode his G-Squared/Drag Specialties Buell to a leading performance of 6.979 at 190.00 in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
"We've been trying to solidify our spot in the Ringers (Pro Bike Battle) so we're counting every point," said Rivas. "That's been a high priority for us lately but it looks like we've got it squared away. Now, our objective needs to be winning rounds on Sunday so we can get another Wally."
Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at 11:15 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. for Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations.