By Lee Elder
EPPING, NH (July 7, 2018) – Leah Pritchett grabbed the top spot in Top Fuel and qualified first for the NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.
Greg Anderson’s pass on Friday evening stood as the best time of qualifying in Pro Stock. Matt Hagan led the Funny Car field.
Pritchett grabbed her ninth career top qualifier award and her second this season in Top Fuel with a 3.742-second, 324.51 mph pass. Her best lap came on Friday night when the conditions were cooler and faster than at any time during Saturday’s sessions.
“This weekend we solved some mysteries with the car,” Pritchett said. “It feels good for both Top Fuel and Funny Car to be on top of the charts.”
Pritchett’s effort is part of the Don Schumacher Racing team, as is Hagan’s Funny Car team.
“Saturday is really practice for Sunday,” Pritchett said. Race conditions are expected to be the same Sunday as they were Saturday and eliminations will be run at roughly the same time of day as Saturday’s qualifying runs. “So, during Q3 we tried some stuff and we practiced during Q4, got the results we wanted and now we’re set up the way we want to be for Sunday.”
Pritchett will race Audry Worm in the first round of eliminations.
Hagan’s quick time was 3.932 seconds, 322.04 mph. It marked the 33rd top qualifier of his career. Jack Beckman was second and Shawn Langdon was third.
“If you miss the setup on Q1, you’re behind on the whole weekend,” Hagan said. “We didn’t allow that to happen this time and that’s a big reason why I’m standing up here (in front of the media) tonight.”
Hagan will race Terry Haddock in the first round of eliminations Sunday.
Anderson (6,517 seconds, 211.73 mph) took the top spot in Pro Stock for the eighth time in 13 races this year. Erica Enders was second and Vincent Nobile was third.
“Today we struggled with the sun on the track,” said Anderson. “It was definitely a learning experience. We get another shot tomorrow and we have to learn what to do differently when the sun is on the track.”
Anderson will race Val Smeland in the first round Sunday.
NOTES: New England Dragway and the NHRA announced Saturday’s crowd was a sellout. … Steve Torrence and Clay Millican are the only two drivers in Top Fuel with two wins or more this season. … Courtney Force has a 250-point lead in Funny Car. She could skip the western swing and still be solidly in contention for a spot in the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship. Jack Beckman is second behind Force. … Mike Smith failed to qualify in Funny Car, the only entrant in the professional categories who did not make the show. … Pro Stock racer Greg Anderson leads all professional categories in bonus points earned this season but did not get a single point on Saturday. Anderson is second in Pro Stock points to Tanner Gray. … The track temperature at the start of both sessions of professional qualifying was 130 degrees.