SONOMA, Calif. (July 29, 2017) After making blistering runs yesterday evening, many of the drivers, riders, and crews of the NHRA struggled in the third and fourth qualifying sessions to get their high-powered machines down the track in a similar fashion today. Nonetheless, the passes made were still exciting to watch and served as a window into what the track conditions will be like come raceday.
Leah Pritchett walked away with her 6th career number one qualifying position. Despite not making a clean run today, her 3.669 second qualifying time from yesterday’s Q2 session stayed the fastest in the class. “Anything can happen on Sunday no matter who you’re racing so today we took this track extremely seriously trying to get down it in like conditions for tomorrow,” said Pritchett. She will face Terry Haddock in the opening round of eliminations tomorrow. Brittany Force will start off-pole with her Q2 time of 3.689 seconds at 330.63 mph. While Doug Kalitta is third with his time of 3.694 seconds at 331.28 mph. Antron Brown, Tony Schumacher, Steve Torrence, Shawn Langdon, and Clay Millican are also qualified in the top half of the Top Fuel field.
Similarly to Top Fuel, there wasn’t a change within the top three qualifiers from yesterday’s Q2 session. Robert Hight, Jack Beckman, and Courtney Force remain first, second, and third respectively. Hight ran a 3.807 second lap at 339.40 mph in Q2, Beckman ran a 3.854 second run at 328.70 mph in Q2, and Force went 3.889 seconds at 327.03 mph in Q1. “Things are definitely going in the right direction for us,” Hight said. “It’s a big deal; everyone talks about sweeping the swing. We’ve got one leg down and to come in here and get low ET and set the quickest [speed] run in history, that’s pretty awesome.” Hight, who is a native of Northern California is particularly excited to accomplish his speed feat in Sonoma. “This really is my home track. I grew up about north of here, about 6 hours north in California. The first national event I ever attended was right here so I’ve been to every single national event here either as a fan, a crew member, and now as a driver.” Hight will take on Tim Gibbons in round one tomorrow. John Force, Matt Hagan, Tommy Johnson Jr., Alexis Dejoria, and Tim Wilkerson help make up the top eight qualifiers.
Drew Skillman was able to improve upon his Q2 elapsed time with a 6.538 second pass at 211.36 mph in Q3 and held on for the top spot in qualifying. “Momentum is the word of the weekend for us. The team is really positive, momentum is moving forward, the engine is strong. Everyone at Gray Motorsports did a great job, our Chevrolet Camaro is running really strong right now. Everyone at Ray Skillman Motorsports is killing it, we’re just really happy right now,” Skillman told the media. Skillman will have a bye-round at the start of eliminations tomorrow. Bo Butner made a move and eclipsed his teammate, Greg Anderson, in qualifying. Butner ran a 6.546 second run a 211.63 mph which put him second going into raceday. Anderson will start third with his time of 6.553 seconds at 212.46 mph. Shockingly, Erica Enders has been 0-4 in clean passes this weekend. She is the number fifteen qualifier with her time of 6.949 seconds at 211.89 mph and will face Bo Butner in the first round of competition. Jason Line, Tanner Gray, Vincent Nobile, Chris McGaha, and Allen Johnson are also on the top half of the qualifying ladder.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
This is the fastest field of Pro Stock Motorcycle in the history of the class. The bump spot is Andrew Hines’ 6.918 second elapsed time. In Q4, Matt Smith went to the top with a 6.771 second run at 198.7 mph. “I feel good going into tomorrow. We struggled all weekend; we were blowing the tire away at the sixty foot and we were running very big speed all weekend we just couldn’t get off the line,” Matt said. Needless to say, he was able to turn his starting line issues around just in time for the final qualifying session. Smith will take on Hines in the first round of eliminations. LE Tonglet is off-pole with his Q1 pass of 6.783 seconds at 196.73 mph. Hector Arana Jr. will start tomorrow third after making his 6.783 second lap at 196.36 mph in Q1. Jerry, Scotty, Angie, Karen, and Chip Ellis help fill out the top eight qualifiers.