Robert Hight took the provisional No. 1 qualifier position on Friday and showed he is a contender to win his third race of the season during the first day of qualifying for the 22nd annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka. Antron Brown and Mike Edwards also take No. 1 qualifying positions in their respective categories during the ninth of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.
Hight, the 2009 Full Throttle Series Funny Car World Champion, continues his recent string of success as he grabbed the provisional No. 1 qualifying position with a run of 4.095sec at 308.21mph. Hight and his Auto Club Ford Mustang are red hot as they are enjoying a two race win streak and if his time stays at the top it will be the third No. 1 qualifying position for him this season.
“It's pretty exciting,” said Hight. “These are the times you dream about. When your car can win two in a row and then you go out there and you're No. 1 in both sessions at the next race it gives you a lot of confidence as a driver. My car is going down the track and the more runs you make the better you get, so I've got more confidence and it's a lot of fun. The unfortunate truth about all that is when you run like that and dominate – and we're kind of dominating right now – you make those other guys work harder and they're going come back and get you. So we've got to be careful that we don't celebrate and get too excited. We've got to stay focused and work hard because those other guys are coming.”
“Tomorrow is going to be hot and Sunday is going to be hot, but we just came from two real hot racetracks and you saw how my car preformed, so we've got a lot of confidence right now. And having only 15 cars here, that No. 1 spot is pretty important tonight because that's going to give me a bye run. I don't think anybody is going to beat that tomorrow in the heat, so having a bye run in the first round, that doesn't hurt either.”
In Top Fuel, Brown powered his Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster to the top of the field with a pass at 3.785sec at a blistering 321.96mph. The run posted by Brown is the sixth fastest at 1,000 feet. If he remains in the No. 1 position going into eliminations it would be his third of the season with his most recent coming at the Las Vegas race in April.
“The last few races have been really hard on our whole team. We were just one run behind in Atlanta. The car was there, we qualified well, and we were making gains, we just didn't make them quick enough. We dropped a hole in first round and didn't show what our team is capable of. We know this is a great racecar. We're getting a whole new management system worked out and it's going well. We ran that .88 in the first session in the heat of the day, so we started with a foot forward instead of a foot behind. The first run is so important. You've got get a decent run down because that transfers to every other run, and this weekend we started with our best foot forward. We just want to get back up there in competitive shape, and I feel like we're back. Now we just have to do it on race day.”
“We've got one more day of qualifying and it's going to be hot tomorrow. I think that second run at 3 o'clock is going to be the most important run tomorrow because that's going to set us up for Sunday because Sunday is going to be even hotter.”
Edwards is looking to regain the form he had at the start of the season as he is currently the No. 1 provisional qualifier with a pass of 6.638sec at 206.99mph. Edwards has four wins to his credit this year but has stumbled in the last two events as his Penhall / Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP broke at St. Louis in the semi-finals and was defeated in the first round in Atlanta. If he holds onto the No.1 qualifying position it would be his seventh this season in nine races.
“I was surprised that more cars didn't pick up in the evening session,” said Edwards. “I really thought that Ron Krisher [who uses Edwards' engines] would have run a 6.64 and I was surprised that [No 2 qualifier] Allen Johnson slowed down.
“I hope that our recent success in qualifying No. 1 is becoming a trend, but even though we're running real well, it's not like it was last year. I feel like we're just a little bit off in a couple places. We're always looking for a little bit more, trying to tweak a little extra performance out of the car because all the other teams are really close. Tonight's run was awesome, though, with a .977 60-foot time. I'm real happy with the job my guys did."
Qualifying continues on Saturday for the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series with sessions at noon and 2:30 p.m. Sunday's eliminations begin at 11 a.m.