Top Fuel driver Spencer Massey earned the qualifying lead and won the inaugural $100,000 NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout during Saturday action at the 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. Courtney Force (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock), and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were qualifying leaders at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Massey set low e.t. of the weekend during the third qualifying session of the weekend, which also happened to be the second round of the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout, a special $100,000 bonus race within a race.
“For Traxxas to come into our sport and put up this much money and add these two bonus races is awesome,” Massey said. “I can't believe that we won it. We've wanted to win it since we qualified when we won the season opener, and it has been a lot of pressure this week, but it has been awesome to be able to say we won the first Traxxas Nitro Shootout.”
Massey's 3.762-second pass at 324.51mph wasn't only good enough to advance to the final round of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, but it also gave him the provisional Top Fuel lead heading into Sunday. Massey outran fellow Texas-native Steve Torrence in the final round of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout to earn the win.
“Torrence's car has been running on a string all year long, and I know he wanted to win this thing just as much as I did,” Massey said. “When I hit the throttle, the car started moving, and I knew I was on a good ride. Then I crossed the finish line and saw the win light, and I couldn't believe it. I'm so proud of my Prestone guys; they deserve this win.”
The Funny Car NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout is scheduled for Sunday with the first round set for 12:30 p.m. ET.
If Massey holds onto the No. 1 position through Sunday's qualifying action, it will be his fourth of the season and seventh of his career.
Force ran a career-best e.t. of 4.049 second at 317.27mph to earn her first provisional qualifying lead of her career during the final qualifying session of the day.
“I have all the faith in the world in my guys,” Force said. “They've been working hard all season, and to get a career best at Indy, it's huge. This is the one track that you want to say it at, and it's pretty cool that it's the Big Go, and it's my career best, an awesome time, so we're excited.”
If Force holds onto the top spot through Sunday's qualifying efforts, it will be the first No. 1 qualifying position of her career.
Pro Stock qualifying was called early due to weather, so Enders held onto the qualifying lead thanks to her 6.624-second pass at 208.84 mph from Friday-evening qualifying.
“It has been a really long day,” Enders said. “We had been changing our setup back and forth. We thought we were going to run once and then it started with the rain. And every time the weather comes in and things change, we have to re-assess our setup and go back and change everything. It's a tough time with a day like today, but we went out and made a pretty good run early in the day and were able to keep the No.1 spot, and that's exciting, so I'm proud of my guys.”
Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying was also cut short, and Hines held onto the top spot with his Friday pass of 6.928 seconds at 194.21mph.
“Given the weather, I don't think we could have run any quicker, but it would have been nice to get the data,” Hines said. “I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, but I think we can keep the top spot. If it's slow, we're safe, and if the conditions get better, we should be able to pick up. Our last run could have been better, so we know there's more left.”
Qualifying for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event continues Sunday at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Eliminations are scheduled for Monday at 11 a.m. ET.