EPPING, N.H. (July 6, 2018) – The tight competition that is today’s NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock category was on display at New England Dragway Friday.
Greg Anderson was the top qualifier after one session of time trials at the NHRA New England Nationals but ten cars bettered his time in the second round when track and air conditions were more friendly to the Pro Stock cars. Fortunately for Anderson, his car was one of the ten that bettered his first session time and Anderson will begin Saturday’s qualifying program still on top of the speed chart.
Leah Pritchett topped the Top Fuel list and Matt Hagan bested the Funny Car field. Anderson described watching car after car zip past his first-round time and his mounting concern.
“I thought, ‘My God those cars are fast,’” Anderson said after his second run. “Then she (his car) picked up the front end (while leaving the starting line) and carried it. You know you’re on a good run when it does that.”
Anderson’s good run lasted 6.517 seconds and he was clocked at 211.73 mph. He has had the best car in qualifying this season with seven number one starts in the 13 races. Vincent Nobile (6.528 seconds) was second after two sessions and Erica Enders (6.535) was third.
“I honestly felt like we got all we could get,” Anderson said of his second-round pass. “I don’t think we’re going to find much wrong when we go back to the computer.”
But Anderson, who is also the winningest Pro Stock driver over the last decade, has not won a race yet this season. Anderson trailed Pro Stock points leader Tanner Gray by 26 points in the Countdown to the Championship standings as the weekend began.
“Bottom line is that on Sunday we have to execute,” Anderson told reporters after the second round Friday. “We’re going to get it right. It’s just a matter of time. We need to stop making the mistakes we’ve made all year. It’s a knock-down, drag-out brawl out there.”
Hagan’s Funny Car-leading pass was 3.932 seconds and 322.04 mph. Jack Beckman was next at 3.956 seconds.
“On that run, it was loose and loose is fast,” Hagan said. “I could feel the rear end coming around … It’s just a seat of the pants feel.”
Pritchett’s Top Fuel car bested the field at 3.742 seconds and 324.51 mph. Tony Schumacher was next at 3.744.
“We’ve been looking forward to this,” said Pritchett. “That last ride was wild. It was really made up of a lot of last-minute decisions from coming up to the water box and watching the cars go down the track in front of us.”
Qualifying continues on Saturday.
NOTES: Fernando Cuadra raced a Pro Stock car fielded by KB Racing. It was his first Pro Stock race since 2004. He plans to run the remainder of the 2018 season. The track temperature at the start of pro session one was just 115 degrees. Conditions improved steadily through the evening. … Jim Maroney made his Top Fuel debut in Q1. … Bob Tasca’s Q2 Funny Car pass came after an apparent starting light malfunction. Early reports were that some sort of debris interfered with the timing lights at the starting line. The 4.370-second pass was disqualified. … All three professional categories had full fields this weekend. Top Fuel had 16 cars entered, Funny Car had 17 and Pro Stock had 16. …The only non-qualified driver in the professional categories after Friday was Terry Haddock in Funny Car.