FORCE, GRUBNIC, ANDERSON AND BROWN PROVISIONAL NO. 1 QUALFIERS AT GAINESVILLE RACEWAY GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Thirteen-time NHRA POWERade Series world champion John Force raced to the qualifying lead in Funny Car Friday at the ACDelco NHRA ...
FORCE, GRUBNIC, ANDERSON AND BROWN PROVISIONAL NO. 1 QUALFIERS AT GAINESVILLE RACEWAY
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Thirteen-time NHRA POWERade Series world champion John Force raced to the qualifying lead in Funny Car Friday at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals at historic Gainesville Raceway.
Dave Grubnic (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock), and Antron Brown (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also opened strong at the $2 million race, becoming the early leaders in their respective categories of the 37th annual event, the third of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Force capitalized on the data gathered by his two teammates to post his top performance. By the time he made it to the starting line for his second round attempt his crew chiefs had five runs of information to peruse.
"Getting that extra data was really good," Force said. "We saw what Robert (Hight) did (4.789) in front of us and just stepped it up from there."
Force powered his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to a leading run of 4.751 seconds at 323.62 mph to pace the Funny Car lineup.
Defending event champion Whit Bazemore ran a second-best 4.769 at 321.88 mph in his brand-new Matco Tools Dodge Charger. Hight was third with a 4.789 at 319.14 mph in the Auto Club Mustang.
Like Force, Top Fuel leader Grubnic also benefited from having a pair of stablemates to share info with before posting a 4.555 at 323.62 mph in his StriVectin-SD dragster in the afternoon session. Grubnic's teammates, Doug Kalitta and Hillary Will, grabbed top-half spots.
"We want to hold onto that top position," Grubnic said. "If the conditions warrant the opportunity to step it up then we will. Jon (Oberhofer, crew chief) seems to have a handle on what the car wants."
Defending race winner Kalitta was fourth in the Mac Tools dragster with a 4.575, while Will posted a 4.646 in the KB Racing dragster. Defending series champion Tony Schumacher has yet to make the starting order in his U.S. Army dragster. Anderson's 6.664 at 206.80 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac GTO was two-hundredths of a second ahead of the pack.
"We're right where we need to be," Anderson said. "We'd love to go for the record (6.633) but it's going to need to drop at least five or six degrees and we'll need some cloud cover to even have a shot at it." Former track and field star Brown opened the 15-race Pro Stock Motorcycle season by leading the opening day action with a 7.046 at 189.19 mph on his Suzuki.
There are nine racers in the 7.0-second range -- four Suzukis, four Buells, and one Harley-Davidson, that of defending series champion Andrew Hines, who is seventh overall with a 7.072.
"I'm surprised with our run a little bit because it didn't feel that spectacular," Brown said. "It's pretty slimy out there and I drifted right, so that lost some time, but a 7.04 is a good start. Angelle (Sampey, teammate) ran a 7.13 but she didn't have high gear. Otherwise she would have been right there with me or maybe even a hundredth quicker.
"We'll see some sixes if the front half of the track gets better. You need those early numbers to get in the sixes."