Ashley Force Hood leads Friday NHRA qualifiers at Bristol
Ashley Force Hood raced to the qualifying lead Friday at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
Cory McClenathan and Mike Edwards also were No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Force Hood posted a 4.105 second run at 298.67 mph in her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to take the top spot in Funny Car. If her performance holds through Saturday's final two qualifying sessions (12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.) it will be her second No. 1 of the season and fifth of her career.
"The first session was just about getting from A to B so that we'd have a good base for the rest of our runs, and fortunately things went our way and we made a good run," Force Hood said. "But we knew that a lot of the teams would probably improve and go around us tonight. We knew conditions would be stellar, and we were hoping not to miss that chance. As every team knows, you never want to give up that Friday night run, and fortunately for us everything went smoothly and we made a nice pass."
Force Hood was the qualifying leader following the first session, but then several cars moved in front of her during the second session. She was able to reclaim the position with a strong run to close out Funny Car qualifying for the day.
"I knew it was good run," she said. "It felt so much faster than the first run. It was pulling really hard, I just didn't know if it was good enough to get that No. 1 because a lot of other teams had run well, too. Fortunately, it did. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but hopefully we'll keep making good runs. The bigger picture is doing well on race day, and we have two good runs so far, so we're excited about that."
McClenathan took the top spot in Top Fuel with a performance of 3.874 at 312.21 in his FRAM dragster.
Like Force Hood, McClenathan saved his best for last and pulled out the impressive performance under the lights.
"[Crew chiefs] Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler may have run Funny Car for a lot of years, but they've done a great job with this Fram Tough Guard Top Fuel dragster," said McClenathan. "This car goes A to B at every racetrack we go to. They told me, 'We're going to step on it, we're going for it, so be ready to lift if you have to,' but it was a flawless run. It ran almost 277 [mph] to half-track, and those numbers prove that they can do it and get the job done.
"I want to be fast and I always want to be No. 1, but I'd gladly give that No. 1 up for a win on Sunday. That's the biggest thing."
Edwards covered the distance in 6.719 at 205.19 in his ART Pontiac GXP to lead Pro Stock qualifying. It would be his fourth No. 1 qualifying effort of the season and 10th of his career if his time holds through tomorrow.
"We made two really good runs here, and my guys are doing a good job," Edwards said. "We spend a lot of the time at the racetrack, not so much at the national events, but we've been doing a lot of testing, and it's really starting to benefit us. My hat's off to my guys at the shop. I think I've about worn them all out, but when you see results like this it sure makes you feel like your work is not all in vain."