PHOENIX, Ariz. (February 24, 2017) Having just left Wild Horse Pass three weeks ago after completing preseason testing, the NHRA makes its return to the Sunshine State. The clear sky and hot track provided drivers and teams who flexed their muscles here in testing, to prove that they’re going strong during the first two sessions of qualifying.
Pomona-winner, Leah Pritchett and her Papa John’s Pizza crew delivered a national elapsed time record of 3.658 seconds at 329.34 mph. Pritchett made an almost identical run in testing and then went on to win the season opener in Pomona two weeks ago. “We have a huge bullseye on our back, no doubt about it. We just need to keep running away from that bullseye as fast as possible,” Leah said. It’s early in the season and hopes are high but that hasn’t kept Leah Pritchett from managing her expectations, “At some point people are going to catch up and at some point I’m going to make a mistake or our team will, that’s just human nature. But right now we’re just focused on not doing that and keeping this momentum up as long as possible.” Pritchett’s teammates, Tony Schumacher and Antron Brown are currently qualified second and third. Schumacher ran a 3.667 second run, the second quickest run ever, while Brown went down the racetrack in 3.689 seconds. Top Fuel rookie, Troy Coughlin Jr. made his fastest career pass yet during the second qualifying session with a 3.696 second lap. Doug Kalitta, Steve Torrence, Clay Millican, Troy Buff are also in the top eight for qualifying.
Courtney Force put her name on the top of the provisional ladder with a track record elapsed time of 3.838 seconds at 332.67 mph during the first qualifying session. Force dominated Funny Car testing by running the unofficial fastest ET ever at 3.804 seconds and advanced to the final round in Pomona. “It’s always the first run of the weekend that you’re nervous about so to be able to lay down a number like that for a track record and having [Matt Hagan] right outside my window, I knew it was going to be a great pass,” she explained. Pomona winner, Matt Hagan, followed close in second behind with a 3.839 second run at 329.67 mph. In a stellar run, privateer Tim Wilkerson went to the third spot on the ladder with a 3.852 second lap at 329.42 mph. Jack Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr., Del Worsham, Robert Hight, and J.R. Todd round out the top eight qualifiers headed into tomorrow’s Q3 session.
Jason Line is carrying momentum from his number one qualifier and win in Pomona into Friday qualifying. Line a blistering pass with a 6.509 second pass at 212.19 mph. “That was an awesome run,” Line spoke honestly of his Q2 time. His KB Racing teammate, Greg Anderson, stepped up to the number two spot with a 6.522 second run at 211.73 mph. The pair went went 1-2 in qualifying during Pomona and raced each other in the final round there as well. KB Racing was also dominant right out of the gate last season despite the challenges that electronic fuel injection packages brought to the Pro Stock category. “This offseason was much different than last offseason. We had to come up with a whole package, this year it was more about refining the recipe and chiseling on it, so we did and it’s paying dividends right now for us,” said Line. Pro Stock rookie, Tanner Gray made a nice run of 6.538 seconds at 211.79 mph to hold onto the third spot. Vincent Nobile, Bo Butner, Shane Gray, Erica Enders, and Jeg Coughlin Jr. help make up the top half of the field.