Ashley Force Hood solidified her status as the Funny Car points leader with a 4.094-second pass at 307.79 mph to secure the provisional pole on the first day of qualifying at the NHRA Virginia Nationals.
The other provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the 22nd of 24 races in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series were Cory McClenathan (Top Fuel) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock).
The NHRA Virginia Nationals is the fourth race in NHRA's six-race playoff, the Countdown to 1. The playoff concludes with races in Las Vegas (Oct. 29-Nov. 1) and Pomona, Calif. (Nov. 12-15).
Force Hood, who leads all Funny Car drivers with five No. 1 qualifiers in her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang already this season, is bidding to become the first woman in the history of the ultra-competitive Funny Car class to win and NHRA Full Throttle Series championship.
"We made both runs A-to-B really strong today. We're really pumped up for this weekend. We started off really strong, but we've got to keep going," Force Hood said.
McClenathan, the driver of the FRAM Tough Guard dragster who began the weekend in third place 93 points behind Tony Schumacher and the U.S. Army team, claimed the provisional No. 1 with a 3.815 at 318.24.
"We come here and for some reason we just happen to do well and it's good mojo," said the winningest Top Fuel driver at Virginia Motorsports Park with four victories. "That's a good thing."
If nothing changes in Pro Stock Saturday, Edwards (6.606 at 209.26), who began the race with a 78-point lead in his quest to win his first NHRA Full Throttle Series championship, would collect his NHRA-leading 14th No. 1 qualifier of the season.
"It has been a phenomenal year and a dream season," said Edwards, driver of the A.R.T./Young Life Pontiac. "I'm literally living my dream with this sport that I've enjoyed doing for a long time. We did accomplish our goal of the day and that's to pick up those valuable six (qualifying bonus) points. We feel good about that. We didn't make the best run that last run there, but it was good enough."
Qualifying resumes Saturday with Rounds 3 and 4 before the 16-car fields are set for Sunday's final eliminations.