Ashley Force Hood raced to the qualifying lead in Funny Car Friday at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals.
Antron Brown and Mike Edwards also were qualifying leaders in their respective categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Force Hood powered her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to a leading performance of 4.195sec at 295.14mph to pace the 16-car lineup. If the performance stands through Saturday's two qualifying sessions (11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.) it would be her first No. 1 of the season and 10th of her career.
Force Hood was quickest in both sessions as all teams had to deal with tricky track conditions brought on by some unseasonably warm temperatures in the upper 80s. She was pleased with her team's effort.
“We are definitely very excited that we got down the track in both sessions today under power, A to B,” Force Hood said. “This is a very tricky track with the weather and it was just a matter of doing the right thing each run. It definitely helped to get the first run down because we had more data to go by for the second run. But you could see the other teams getting it figured out very quickly and by tomorrow I'm sure you're going to see better sessions filled with full runs. I'm sure my time isn't going to stay first, but if the conditions improve and everybody can outrun us, then that means we can improve as well and that's kind of what we're looking for tomorrow.”
“It's been awhile since we were excited to run in the teens. Before that run, we were really hoping that we could break into the teens, so we're pretty excited. These definitely aren't typical of kinds of runs that cars make here in Vegas, but I'm sure everybody will get it figured out and by tomorrow and definitely by Sunday you'll see better runs.”
Houston winner Matt Hagan was second with a 4.217 at 297.16 in his DieHard Dodge Charger and veteran driver Gary Densham was third with a 4.220 at 295.92.
In Top Fuel, Brown set the pace in his Matco Tools dragster, covering the distance in 3.881 at 316.60. Brown says the teams that are able to run well tomorrow will be the favorites for Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations.
“Tomorrow's definitely going to show who's going to have it on race day,” Brown said. “The first run today, the track was the hottest track that we had all year long, and on that last run, it got back into the ballpark of what we are used to seeing. The track conditions, you go from 128 degrees down to, when we ran, like 106, so the conditions definitely came back to us that last session. Everybody was still just being safe on that run to get from A to B and get in the field because that's probably going to be the best track that we're going to see all weekend unless the final round goes into late like it is today.”
Larry Dixon was second with a 3.894 at 314.24 in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster and Doug Kalitta was third with a 3.909 at 315.56 in his Technicoat dragster.
Edwards was quickest in Pro Stock with a performance of 6.706 at 205.47 in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP. After qualifying fifth in the first session, Edwards made an engine change and then moved back to the front of the field.
“We didn't do a very good job the first run, that's for sure,” Edwards said. “We did a better job with the adjustments tonight, and it really paid off. We had some issues with the motor – we changed motors between runs – but we didn't do very good on the starting line either, so hats off to my guys because they really, really did a good job tonight. We didn't have much to go off of because of the first run, but we made a lot of good changes and a lot of good adjustments and made a nice run.”
Ron Krisher took second in his Valvoline Chevy Cobalt with a 6.716 at 205.38, while Allen Johnson was third in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger with a 6.732 at 204.88.