Team Force dominates Chicago qualifications

The cars of John Force Racing took the top three spots on the Funny Car ladder during qualifications at the 8th Annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet. Robert Hight, John Force and Eric Medlen drove their JFR Ford...

The cars of John Force Racing took the top three spots on the Funny Car ladder during qualifications at the 8th Annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet. Robert Hight, John Force and Eric Medlen drove their JFR Ford Mustangs to the number one, two and three spots respectively.

Team Force posted the three lowest E.T.s once earlier this year at the Gatornationals in March. Rookie Hight reached a top speed of 328.86 MPH during his 4.726 second trip down the Route 66 quarter mile under the lights Friday night. That speed seemed unreachable Saturday in less than ideal hot and humid conditions.

Tim Wilkerson and Tony Pedregon complete the top five. Notably missing from Sunday's bracket is Whit Bazemore who was running fifth in POWERade Series points race going into this weekend.

A local favorite and Long Grove, IL native Tony Schumacher heads the Top Fuel field after going 329.58 MPH in 4.508 seconds. Schumacher and his GoArmy.com teammates are sporting a special paint scheme this weekend to celebrate the Army's 230th birthday. Last year's event winner Doug Kalitta took the number two position followed by Brandon Bernstein, Cory McClenathan and Doug Herbert. The 2004 event winner, Kalitta holds a slim lead over Schumacher in the Top Fuel championship points race.

Amidst Saturday qualifying, Pro Stock held its bonus money event, the King Demon Crown. Drivers have been accumulating points since last year's Chicago race and the top eight competed for their share of the $76,000 prize money.

Last year's Crown winner Greg Anderson went out in the first round, losing in a close race to Kurt Johnson whose reaction time at the line was .001 seconds. Dave Connolly, Jason Line and Jeg Coughlin, Jr also won in the first round. Connolly and Line met in the finals only to have Jason foul at the start line and get a red light. Connolly has a history of good fortune in Chicago.

"There's definitely a horseshoe over our heads at this track. I love coming here," Connolly said after receiving a check for $50,000 for the victory. "Hopefully we can continue our luck and win here tomorrow."

If Connolly does win on Sunday he'll earn a $25,000 "Double-Up" bonus from NHRA. Points leader Warren Johnson topped the Pro Stock qualification ladder by posting 204.08 MPH in 6.762 seconds. Kurt Johnson matched his father's top speed in 6.769 to clinch the second spot followed by Greg Anderson, Jason Line and Dave Connolly.

Pro Stock Motorcycle drivers are competing in their fifth event of the season. Andrew Hines drove the quarter mile in the low E.T. 7.123 seconds going 183.10 MPH. His Vance & Hines teammate GT Tonglet achieved the top speed of 190.65, but his 7.173 E.T. was only good enough for fifth. Antron Brown, Chip Ellis and Matt Smith will start above Tonglet on the ladder.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Antron Brown , Jeg Coughlin , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Greg Anderson , Tim Wilkerson , Brandon Bernstein , Jason Line , Andrew Hines , Eric Medlen , GT Tonglet , Chip Ellis , Robert Hight , Dave Connolly , Matt Smith