Story By: NHRA – ENNIS, TX – Robert Hight held onto the top spot in Funny Car, powering to the No. 1 position on Saturday at Texas Motorplex at the 36th annual Texas NHRA FallNationals.
Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Steve Johnson (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also qualified No. 1 at the 17th of 20 races during the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season and the fourth race in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Hight raced to the No. 1 qualifier on the strength of his run of 3.878-seconds at 331.94 mph in his 11,000-horsepower AAA Texas Chevrolet Camaro on Friday, and made a strong pass to close out qualifying on Saturday. It is his second No. 1 qualifier of the season and 70th in his career as he looks for his third win of the 2021 campaign. Hight will start eliminations against Jeff Arend knowing he needs a number of big performances over the final four races to jump back into championship contention.
“We’re pretty excited,” Hight said. “Having four qualifying runs is huge and we were low E.T. three of the four runs and that gives you a lot of confidence heading into Sunday. That was a great run to close the day and you’re going to see more of the same tomorrow. This is the Countdown and we’ve dug ourselves a hole. We’ve got to win from here on out if we want to have a chance to win a fourth championship. We’ve had the performance as of late, but no consistency. We haven’t had a lot of No. 1 qualifiers, so we’re excited heading into raceday.”
Ron Capps qualified second with a 3.882 at 329.34 on Friday, and Cruz Pedregon is third with a 3.892 at 325.14. Defending world champ and points leader Matt Hagan, who won the most recent race in St. Louis, is fourth with a 3.897 at 332.34.
In Top Fuel, Brittany Force clinched an incredible 11th No. 1 qualifier this season thanks to her track record run of 3.637 at 335.32 on Friday in her 11,000-horsepower Monster Energy dragster. It is also the 31st career top spot for Force, who closed out qualifying with a strong run as well. But it was her pass on Friday that wowed everyone, as she made the quickest pass of the entire 2021 NHRA season and will now try to finish it off with her second win of the year in the thick of the championship hunt. Force, who is second in points, will open eliminations against Joe Morrison at Texas Motorplex after making the fifth-quickest run in NHRA history on Friday.
“We laid down some pretty good runs here, especially that run last night, and that gave us a good ladder going into raceday,” Force said. “We ran right on our number in the last qualifier and we feel confident going into raceday tomorrow. That last run was a big one for us. It’s getting in the car and making consistent runs, and I’m trying to do my job the best that I can.”
Texan Steve Torrence qualified second at his home track thanks to his run of 3.678 at 326.48 from Friday. The points leader and three-time defending world champ is after his second straight win at Texas Motorplex and his third victory in the past four races in Dallas. Mike Salinas took third after his 3.680 at 330.47, also making the quickest run of the third session on Saturday.
Points leader Anderson maintained his spot atop Pro Stock, as his run of 6.553 at 209.23 from Friday in his HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ensured his 10th No. 1 qualifier of the season in 15 races in the class. It’s a remarkable number and also gives Anderson his 116th top qualifier in his standout career. Looking for his 98th career win, which would give him the all-time mark in the class, Anderson will take on Marty Robertson to open eliminations. Anderson is also seeking his sixth win at Texas Motorplex, which would give him the most in Pro Stock history at the track as the championship hunt heats up.
“It’s been awesome and I’ve just had a great car all year long,” said Anderson, who led Erica Enders by 17 points heading into the weekend. “My guys have done a great job and they’ve given me a horse to win every race I’ve been to. I really hope tomorrow is my day. I always love racing at Texas Motorplex all these years. It’s a great Pro Stock track and you don’t struggle to make clean runs, and we love that. I know we’ll be great tomorrow and we’re in good shape. We’re right where we want to be and hopefully, I can find the finish line four times.”
Anderson’s KB Racing teammate, rookie Dallas Glenn, qualified second with a 6.567 at 209.14 and defending world champ Enders will start raceday from the third spot after her run of 6.571 at 206.67.
Johnson’s run from Friday held up and he added a pair of solid runs to close out qualifying for good measure, with his 6.756 at 198.44 on his Brady Mechanical Services Suzuki giving the points leader his third No. 1 qualifier of the 2021 season. It’s also the seventh career No. 1 qualifier for the veteran, who entered the weekend with a 17-point lead over Angelle Sampey. He looked strong in qualifying, making the best run in three of the four sessions, and will meet Jianna Salinas to open raceday as he looks for his third win in what’s been a phenomenal season.
“It’s exciting to start from the number one spot,” Johnson said. “We’re preparing the right way and when you get No. 1 you’ve prepared the best way possible. If we prepare and we all do our job, we’ll all love the results. I have so much respect for every competitor and I’m glad they’re all here, but at the same time my focus is on my guys and how I drive the motorcycle on Sunday.”
Defending world champ Matt Smith qualified second with a 6.772, setting the track speed record on Saturday with a pass of 200.83. Sampey will open eliminations from third after going 6.809 at 197.74.
In the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service, Rickie Smith drove to the No. 1 position in his nitrous-powered Camaro with a run of 5.755 at 251.06. Points leader Jose Gonzalez is second after going 5.786 at 248.93 and two-time defending world champ Stevie “Fast” Jackson is third with a 5.793 at 247.70.
Eliminations for the Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex begin at 11 a.m. CT on Sunday.
ENNIS, Texas — Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the 36th annual Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex, the 17th of 20 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.
Top Fuel — 1. Brittany Force, 3.637 seconds, 335.32 mph vs. 16. Joe Morrison, 4.328, 215.20; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.678, 326.48 vs. 15. Buddy Hull, 4.094, 293.09; 3. Mike Salinas, 3.680, 330.47 vs. 14. Krista Baldwin, 3.998, 307.79; 4. Justin Ashley, 3.687, 329.58 vs. 13. Keith Murt, 3.974, 301.87; 5. Billy Torrence, 3.715, 327.98 vs. 12. Alex Laughlin, 3.796, 320.66; 6. Josh Hart, 3.728, 325.14 vs. 11. Leah Pruett, 3.773, 323.12; 7. Antron Brown, 3.743, 326.79 vs. 10. Doug Kalitta, 3.765, 324.05; 8. Clay Millican, 3.745, 324.59 vs. 9. Shawn Langdon, 3.754, 321.88.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Mitch King, 7.243, 83.68.
Funny Car — 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.878, 331.94 vs. 16. Jeff Arend, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.183, 248.75; 2. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.882, 329.34 vs. 15. Jack Wyatt, Charger, 4.149, 267.69; 3. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.892, 325.14 vs. 14. Terry Haddock, Ford Mustang, 4.061, 310.55; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.897, 332.34 vs. 13. Dale Creasy Jr., Charger, 3.992, 323.66; 5. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.911, 330.80 vs. 12. Jim Campbell, Charger, 3.974, 316.08; 6. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.917, 327.51 vs. 11. John Force, Camaro, 3.972, 325.30; 7. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.922, 322.81 vs. 10. Paul Lee, Charger, 3.958, 328.22; 8. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.924, 325.37 vs. 9. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.935, 322.81.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Jeff Diehl, 4.298, 231.87; 18. Todd Simpson, 7.199, 95.93.
Pro Stock — 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.553, 209.23 vs. 16. Marty Robertson, Ford Mustang, 6.673, 203.98; 2. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.567, 209.14 vs. 15. Fernando Cuadra, Mustang, 6.662, 208.10; 3. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.571, 206.67 vs. 14. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.643, 207.46; 4. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.580, 209.56 vs. 13. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.632, 205.69; 5. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.591, 209.01 vs. 12. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.623, 206.42; 6. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.591, 207.24 vs. 11. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.619, 208.52; 7. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.597, 208.42 vs. 10. Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.614, 208.33; 8. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.604,
206.26 vs. 9. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.605, 208.30.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Richie Stevens, 6.679, 206.07; 18. Cristian Cuadra, 6.688, 206.35; 19. Fernando Cuadra Jr., 6.746, 205.32; 20. John Callahan, 6.820, 204.63.
Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.756, 198.44 vs. 16. Jianna Salinas, Suzuki, 6.949, 193.13; 2. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.772, 200.83 vs. 15. Michael Ray, Victory, 6.938, 194.10; 3. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.809, 197.74 vs. 14. Andrew Hines, Buell, 6.924, 193.77; 4. Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.822, 200.74 vs. 13. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.914, 194.10; 5. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.839, 196.59 vs. 12. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.905, 195.48; 6. Eddie Krawiec, Buell, 6.878, 200.26 vs. 11. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.898, 197.08; 7. Chris Bostick, 6.878, 197.22 vs. 10. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.890, 195.73; 8. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.885, 195.68 vs. 9. Scotty Pollacheck, EBR, 6.890, 198.47.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Ryan Oehler, 6.962, 195.25; 18. Michael Phillips, 6.991, 193.18; 19. David Barron, 7.123, 185.69.