Reading: Series Friday qualifying report

LUCAS, FORCE HOOD, EDWARDS AND ARANA RACE TO QUALIFYING LEAD AT TOYO TIRES NHRA NATIONALS MOHNTON, Pa. -- Morgan Lucas raced again to the Top Fuel qualifying lead Friday at the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. Ashley Force...

LUCAS, FORCE HOOD, EDWARDS AND ARANA RACE TO QUALIFYING LEAD AT TOYO TIRES NHRA NATIONALS

MOHNTON, Pa. -- Morgan Lucas raced again to the Top Fuel qualifying lead Friday at the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.

Ashley Force Hood, Mike Edwards and Hector Arana also were qualifying leaders in their classes at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event, the 17th of 18 races in the NHRA regular season.

Morgan Lucas powered his GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil dragster to a 3.867 second run at 307.37 mph to lead the field. Lucas just came off the second win of his career at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. If the time stands through tomorrow's qualifying, it will be Lucas' second consecutive No. 1 qualifying position and third of the season.

"We've been close all year long to having this kind of race car," said Lucas. "We battled cylinder dropping earlier in the year, and we kind of worked through it. Jimmy [Walsh, crew chief] noticed what some other teams were doing and kind of just paid attention to it and fixed it. Now, we have a responsive race car, and when a car is doing what you want it to do, they're a lot easier to work around. The problem we had earlier this year kind of created a level of inconsistency and unpredictability, and I think now we're not 100 percent around it but I have confidence when we go to the starting line it's not going to do that.

"The playoffs are definitely on everybody's mind, but to be completely honest with you, after last weekend, it's going to be really hard to top that unless the championship is around the corner. There's a lot of good cars still, and it's still a long season left. We've got to mind our P's and Q's, and we've got to keep the wins out of our head and just keep focused on what we need to do to win. To be honest with you, the Countdown is going to be huge, and I'm just happy to have made it. Anything on top of this is a cherry on top of the sundae."

Antron Brown, winner of the famed Western Swing races and current points leader, was third overall in his Matco Tools dragster, posting a 3.895 at 313.07.

Ashley Force Hood led Funny Car with a performance of 4.114 at 301.47 in her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, while fellow teammate Robert Hight, who is in a tight battle to make it into the NHRA playoffs, was second in his Auto Club Ford Mustang with a 4.137at 293.66.

"All of us in the camp were really happy with that run," said Force Hood, who leads all Funny Car drivers with four No. 1 spots this season. "We're glad to have all four Mustangs get down the track A to B. I didn't want to tie up the line on the radios by asking how everybody did, but I was trying to listen in and happy to find out that all four did well."

"It's really nice to get back to racing," Force Hood said when asked about the hoopla surrounding Force and Hight switching teams. "We all want to come out here and do the best we can do, and we don't want to let ourselves get distracted by getting into all the stuff happening with our teammates. We're up here trying to get back into that No. 1 spot. With everything else going on in our category, it's nice that our team and I can just go into our own cocoon and do the best we can. That's part of drag racing - there's always something going on."

John Force, who has six wins at Maple Grove Raceway, was fifth in his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Mustang, posting a 4.159 at 299.00. Tim Wilkerson has become the latest Funny Car driver to clinch a spot in the Countdown to 1. Wilkerson qualified for the Countdown at Maple Grove Raceway with a 6.886 at 93.96 mph, currently qualified in the 15th spot.

Mike Edwards continued his strong season in Pro Stock, posting a leading effort of 6.640 at 207.78 in his ART/Young Life Pontiac GXP. If the time stands through tomorrow's qualifying, it will be Edwards' ninth No. 1 qualifying position of the season.

"You never know what the weather is going to do on a day like today," said Edwards, who has qualified No. 1 at half of the first 16 event this season. "We made a game plan when we left the trailer, and it turned out that we made a good decision. It doesn't matter how much horsepower you have if you don't make a good run. I might sound like a broken record, but I have to give all the credit to my guys."

Greg Anderson was second with a 6.679 at 207.11 in his Summit Racing GXP, while Warren Johnson was third in his K&N Filters GXP with a 6.680 at 206.80.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hector Arana guided his Lucas Oil Buell to the top spot with a 6.986 at 190.11 mph. If the time stands through tomorrow's qualifying, it will be Arana's second consecutive No. 1 qualifying position and fourth of the season. Arana came off of his second win of the season at the Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minn.

"Boy, this gives me more confidence definitely going into the [Countdown to 1]", said Arana. "I see a light there that I have an opportunity there to win the championship. It's an awesome feeling, but from what I've learned before, if I start paying attention to that, it seems like I start going backwards."

Series point's leader Eddie Krawiec is in fourth position with a 7.041 at 187.91mph.

Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday's eliminations start at 11 a.m.

-credit: nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Warren Johnson , John Force , Greg Anderson , Ashley Force , Morgan Lucas , Robert Hight , Eddie Krawiec , Mike Edwards