Indy ORP: Friday qualifying report

HIGHT SALVAGES OTHERWISE OFF-DAY FOR JOHN FORCE RACING McClenathan, Allen Johnson, Krawiec round out provisional pole-sitters INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Robert Hight salvaged an off day for John Force Racing by powering his Auto Club Ford Mustang...

HIGHT SALVAGES OTHERWISE OFF-DAY FOR JOHN FORCE RACING
McClenathan, Allen Johnson, Krawiec round out provisional pole-sitters

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Robert Hight salvaged an off day for John Force Racing by powering his Auto Club Ford Mustang to the provisional No. 1 qualifying position in Funny Car at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis on Friday.

The other provisional No. 1 qualifiers on the first of three days of qualifying at the world's most prestigious drag race, the 18th and final regular season event in the 2008 NHRA POWERade Series season, were Cory McClenathan (Top Fuel), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle). The six-race Countdown to 1 playoff begins in two weeks with the Sept. 12-14 Carolinas Nationals.

Hight's 4.114-second pass at 297.48 mph put him in position to earn his fourth No. 1 qualifier this season and the 27th of his career at what he coined to be "his new hometown, his new home track."

"I don't think (the 4.114) will hold up (Saturday) night, we're running a little later, the track will be a little better so we'll have to run better than a 4.114 and I honestly think we can improve," said Hight, who now resides with most of his JFR teammates almost full-time in Indianapolis.

The other John Force Racing drivers provisionally qualified No. 12 (Mike Neff, 4.349), No. 13 (Ashley Force, 4.357), and No. 14 (John Force, 4.416).

Meanwhile, the DHL Funny Car made its first pass down the track since Scott Kalitta's fatal accident at Englishtown. Jeff Arend opened the Funny Car session, after an emotional acknowledgement of the car's return to racing, by powering the Toyota Solara to a 4.193 at 297.75.

"One of the coolest things at this U.S. Nationals was getting to see that Scott Kalitta car back on the track," Hight said.

McClenathan glided down the track in 3.852 seconds at 312.57 mph in the FRAM dragster to earn the provisional No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel. He came one pair ahead of teammate and class dominator Tony Schumacher, winner of five straight races, but the "Sarge" spun the wheels on his U.S. Army dragster.

"Our (Fram) team is getting better and better and this is a great time for that (with the playoffs set to begin in two weeks)," said McClenathan, who is currently in second place.

Johnson's 6.713 at 201.85 in his Team Mopar J&J Racing Dodge may be good enough to survive the weekend if the warmer temperatures that are predicted materialize.

"With that run, I think the conditions will be the best right there of all the weekend," said Johnson, who is looking for his second No. 1 of the season and first since Phoenix.

Krawiec's 7.106 at 184.02 earned him the Pro Stock Motorcycle pole and, like Johnson, he will become an avid weather-watcher over the next two days.

"I don't know if it will stick ... the weather's the only thing we cannot predict," said Krawiec, who previously qualified No. 1 this season at Norwalk and Denver.

Qualifying continues with two more rounds on both Saturday and Sunday before the 16-car fields are set for the traditional Labor Day Monday final eliminations.

-credit: nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Cory McClenathan , Scott Kalitta , Ashley Force , Allen Johnson , Jeff Arend , Robert Hight , Eddie Krawiec