John Force held on to the provisional top spot in Funny Car as rain washed out most of Friday qualifying at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway. Tony Schumacher, Mike Edwards and Craig Treble also took the provisional top spots in their respective categories at the seventh of 23 events on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
Force drove his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford Mustang to a 4.103sec pass at 307.23mph to become the provisional top qualifier in Funny Car. If it stands it would be his third No. 1 qualifier of the season and 134th of his career, just four shy of Pro Stock driver Warren Johnson's NHRA record of most career No. 1 qualifiers at 138.
"We have learned how to run on good tracks with the cool air and we have learned how to run in the hot air,” said Force. “We are also able to learn from the other two Mustangs. I watched Robert (Hight) go out and spin his tires and then saw Ashley (Force Hood) do almost the same thing. Mike Neff, Bernie Fedderly and Austin Coil (crew chiefs) got together and made some adjustments on my Castrol hot rod. I have been pretty good at picking people but putting those three guys together I have been real fortunate.”
Defending series champion and Force teammate Robert Hight is currently seventh, while second-place driver Matt Hagan is 11th in the field.
In Top Fuel, defending champion Schumacher drove his U.S. Army dragster to a 3.829 at 318.62 to take the provisional No. 1 spot. If it stands, it would be Schumacher's second of the season and 60th of his career.
“That was an outstanding run by our U.S. Army team,” said Schumacher. “The car left great and we shot right through the shake zone and on down there. I didn't know the number, but I felt like it was a pretty good lap. It's only one run, but it looks like the test we had right after the Las Vegas race is producing the kind of results we wanted.”
Current points leader Larry Dixon is sitting in the seventh spot while defending event winner Antron Brown is in the 12th spot.
Continuing his dominance over the Pro Stock field, Edwards followed up his win at Las Vegas with the provisional No. 1 qualifier at Gateway. Edwards drove his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP to a 6.644 at 207.75. If it stands, it would be Edwards' sixth No. 1 qualifier of the season in just seven races and 28th of his career.
Treble rode his Valvoline Motorcycle Oils Suzuki to the top of the field in Pro Stock Motorcycle with a run of 6.907 at 193.05. If it stands, it would be Treble's first No. 1 qualifier of the season and fourth of his career.
“I can't say enough good things about Steve Tartaglia,” said Treble. “I can't say we were flopping around but we haven't been on our ‘A' game and not because of lack of preparation but it has just been getting used to this new combination. I knew by the time I threw a leg over that bike it was going to be stout but it was just a matter of getting the chassis right, the clutch right, the tune-up right and Steve has slowly but surely snuck up on it.”
Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday's eliminations begin at 11 a.m.