BRAINERD, Minn. (August 18, 2017) In between the rain showers on the first day of qualifying at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals some of the quickest runs in NHRA history took place this afternoon at Brainerd International Raceway.
Don Schumacher Racing’s Leah Pritchett reset the Top Fuel national elapsed time record and took the provisional pole with a blistering time of 3.640 seconds. Pritchett made the run in Q2 with a speed of 330.63 mph. “Knowing that Brainerd, this track, this surface, the conditions and what NHRA is able to do to it, lays down the ground work for us to pull out the most power possible. That’s what this team did. They have been working tirelessly at finding small amounts of power here, there and everywhere and to be able to put it on the track tonight was incredible,” Pritchett explained. John Force Racing’s only Top Fuel entry, Brittany Force, is currently qualified second at a 3.658 second lap at 333.16 mph. Meanwhile, Doug Kalitta’s 3.694 second effort at 330.31 mph was good enough for the third spot on the ladder. Tony Schumacher, Clay Millican, Steve Torrence, Antron Brown, and Scott Palmer currently round out the top eight qualifiers.
Just like in Top Fuel, the national elapsed time record was reset, this time by Robert Hight who rocketed to the top with a 3.793 second run at 338 mph in Q2. This marks the first time in the history of the class that a 3.7 second pass has been made. “It’s just something you dream about. There are so many things that have to happen and work together for it all to come together. It’s not that easy. This is a big milestone. To be part of a milestone as a driver, this was big for me,” Hight spoke of his accomplishment. Matt Hagan made a great side-by-side run with Hight but came up short with a 3.807 second time at 336.57 mph which has him sitting off-pole. Hight’s teammate (and boss) John Force also made a swift pass of 3.852 seconds at 334.15 mph and left today in a provisional third spot. Courtney Force, Tommy Johnson Jr., Jack Beckman, Tim Wilkerson, and Ron Capps also help make up the top half of the field.
Teen sensation Tanner Gray walked away today with the provisional number one spot. In Q2 Gray made swift pass of 6.607 seconds at 208.17 mph. Gray said, “Dave and the guys did an awesome job putting the racecar under me and I did a small part, just let the clutch pedal out and pull the lever a few times. They’re the guys that make all happen. I’m just very fortunate to drive this thing, it’s going really well right now.” Bo Butner was bumped down one spot on the qualifying ladder by Gray, but still made a decent run of 6.617 seconds at 207.69 mph. Long-time Mopar driver, Allen Johnson is currently sitting in third, the highest he’s qualified all year. Johnson and his father, Roy, got the engine combo under control in Q2 and went 6.622 seconds at 206.86 mph. Drew Skillman, Jason Line, Greg Anderson, Shane Gray, and Vincent Nobile are currently qualified in the top eight drivers the field.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
Hector Arana Jr. nabbed the top spot at his sponsor’s event with a 6.879 second lap at 194.24 mph in Q2. Arana picked up seven-hundredths of a second from his Q1 time. “It feels good to be up here. It’s been a while. It’s about time,” Arana Jr. told the media. “We’re really working hard and we got the bike running well and it just seems that there’s something that just gets right by us. Hopefully this is the weekend where that turns around. We feel pretty confident that we still have room to improve off that run so we’re excited to see what happens tomorrow.” After laying down a sold 6.884 second run at 195.22 mph, Matt Smith will enter tomorrow in second place in qualifying. Scotty Pollacheck is trailing in third with a 6.908 second pass at 193.54 mph. Eddie Krawiec, Andrew Hines, Angie Smith, Karen Stoffer, and Joey Gladstone also make up the top half of the ladder in the two-wheel class.