NHRA Funny Car icon John Force held onto his No. 1 spot from Friday to lead the ladder at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pennsylvania, site of this weekend’s Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals. Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Michael Ray (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also earned No. 1 qualifiers in the fourth race of the 2013 NHRA Countdown to the Championship.
Force, going for his 16th Funny Car title, took over the points lead in Funny Car, sitting five points ahead of Matt Hagan. His Friday pass of 3.987 seconds at 323.50 mph led the John Force Racing patriarch to the 144th No. 1 qualifier of his career; he faces Jeff Arend in the first round of eliminations on Sunday. Courtney Force qualified second at 4.025 seconds; her speed of 329.42 mph from Friday was disallowed after a review of the timing data by NHRA officials. Defending Funny Car champ Jack Beckman is third with a run of 4.034 seconds at 318.99 mph.
“(Crew chief) Jimmy Prock swings for the fence and the guys are really working hard,” said John Force. “I’ve got a good racecar right now and what was exciting to me was to see the fans in the stands. It sure feels good to be running well. I struggled as a driver earlier in the year and my guys stayed by me.”
Lucas led the dragsters with a pass of 3.772 seconds at 314.90 mph, earning his third No. 1 of the season; he’ll face Sidnei Frigo in eliminations. Shawn Langdon qualified No. 2 with a pass of 3.776 seconds at 325.14 mph, while Tony Schumacher starts third (3.778 seconds/323.97 mph). Steve Torrence became the latest Countdown contender to suffer a DNQ.
“This track just continues to hold up to its reputation,” Lucas said. “It’s a smooth track and it’s just an awesome racetrack. I’m just happy with going down the track four times, but I’m really happy with having the lowest time two of the four sessions. That’s a big deal for us.”
Line earned his second top qualifier of the season in Pro Stock with a run of 6.573 seconds (210.70 mph); he’ll meet Kenny Delco in the first round of eliminations. Allen Johnson, 2012 Pro Stock champion, qualified second (6.579 seconds/210.34 mph), followed by Mike Edwards in third (6.580seconds/210.64 mph).
“This has always been a good Pro Stock track and we’ve had success here in the past,” said Line, who has two previous wins at Maple Grove. “It’s a big deal for us to be No. 1 and everything matters right now. It shows we have a race car and this Summit Racing Camaro is running well right now. I like coming up here and it’s a big deal to peak at this time of year. We’re putting in a lot of effort and hopefully we can have a big day (Sunday). We need a win.”
Ray earned his third No. 1 qualifier of the season in PSM and drew a bye for the first round of eliminations. Ray’s fast pass of 6.857 seconds at 193.38 mph topped the charts ahead of Hector Arana Jr. (6.886 seconds/195.19 mph) and Hector Arana (6.871 seconds/195.19 mph).
“We were definitely going after a little bit today, but we had to get some parts ready for (Sunday),” said Ray. “We’re exactly where we want to be. I did a couple things on my end to change the reaction time and showed a huge increase, and we’re excited for (Sunday). We’ve got a long road to go to try and get back in this championship.”
Eliminations for the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals get underway Sunday beginning at 11 a.m. ET. Keep up with the action at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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