Robert Hight continued his torrid May by qualifying No. 1 at the 22nd annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka. The other No. 1 qualifiers were Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock).
Hight, the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Series Funny Car world champion, earned the No. 1 qualifying position with a run of 4.095-seconds at 308.21 mph in his Auto Club Ford Mustang. The No. 1 is Hight's third this season and he is seeking a third straight win that would give him a sweep of NHRA's three May races (the O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals, the Summit Racing NHRA Southern Nationals and the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals).
Hight will be rewarded with an opening-round bye and then he'll hook up with either Del Worsham or Ashley Force Hood, one of several marquee first-round matchups including Jack Beckman vs. Bob Tasca, Ron Capps vs. Cruz Pedregon and John Force vs. Matt Hagan.
“We'll have a tough matchup second-round either Ashley or Del. There are no easy rounds. Even as good as we are running it is tough,” Hight said. “We'll see if we can't make it three (wins) in a row. It is going to be a lot of work to get there.”
In Top Fuel, Brown powered his Matco Tools dragster to the top of the field with a Friday pass at 3.785-seconds at 321.96 mph. The No. 1 was also Brown's third of 2010.
“I'm just stoked because we made it down the track three of four passes,” Brown said. “That last pass we just got greedy. We were trying to run a .86 and it was on a .86 run. It was good to just before the 330, where it came unglued a little. But it ran decent. It still ran 219 (mph) and it smoked the tires before the 330, so if we back it up we should be right in the hunt with a .88 or .89. That's what it's going to take (Sunday). There are going to be a lot of tough rounds. You look at the ladder and we've got (Larry) Dixon on our side, Shawn Langdon, and (Tony) Schumacher, my teammate, so there's going to be a whole bunch of racing going on tomorrow.”
Brown will meet Luigi Novelli in Round 1 Sunday and among the highlight first-round matchups in Top Fuel is the No. 7-10 matchup of Cory McClenathan and Morgan Lucas.
Edwards secured his NHRA-best seventh No. 1 of 2010 in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP with a pass of 6.638-seconds at 206.99 mph on Friday that easily held up Saturday in windy conditions.
“Getting a chance to race under these conditions does help us get ready for (Sunday), which from what I gather is going to be similar to what we had (Saturday),” Edwards said. “It's going to be a matter of who makes the best adjustments is going to win this race. It won't necessarily be the fastest car, but the team that can adapt the best.”
Edwards, who won four of the first six races this season, has slipped of late, losing in St. Louis when his car broke (vs. Warren Johnson) and in Atlanta on a holeshot (vs. Rickie Jones). He'll be looking to regain the early season form Sunday.
There are no easy opening-round matchups in Pro Stock, which boasted a 23-car field. Edwards opens with Justin Humphreys, Allen Johnson will meet Greg Stanfield, Jeg Coughlin will meet Kurt Johnson and Jason Line faces teammate Greg Anderson.
With the fields set, final eliminations at the ninth race in the 17-race Countdown to 10 regular season will begin Sunday at 11 a.m.