John Force would love to talk smack after snaring the provisional No. 1 qualifier for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Friday at Bristol Dragway.

But after making a run of 3.911 seconds at 326.95 mph, Force had to bite his tongue.

"I'd like to be cocky and say, 'Oh, I made a statement,'" Force said. "I'd just make a fool out of myself. I know how this game is. This is the most humbling thing I've ever been involved with in my life. Like Darrell Gwynn said, 'It'll take you from hero to zero.' I've done it all and I've run my mouth, and I will again someday. I'll get cocky and say something stupid.

"But, boy, it'll bite you real quick and you won't understand why, but that's what makes it exciting about it. I carry the gut ache every day when it's race time. That's part of my drive."

Force edged Shawn Langdon (3.911 at 324.51 mph) and Bob Tasca III (3.959 at 318.54) to sit atop Friday's Funny Car list, leading drivers half his age. Maybe he'll brag a little bit after all.

"OK, it feels really good," Force said. "I went back and (said), 'Lord, there's only three pair left. Do I stand a chance? Oh, boy.' If you could really hear the 'real us,' it's whining, whimpering guys who are big studs walking and praying and hoping to make it to feel that moment again just for a minute and hear that cheer of the crowd. You'd think at my age, I'd be over it, but I'm still not. I still love it, I feed off it."

Force, who is one win away from the 150th victory of his career, sat in the No. 10 spot after Q1. He figured several drivers would run much quicker in the cooler conditions Friday night, but it didn't pan out that way.

"I really thought there would be a number of cars that would step up, especially (crew chief) Jimmy Prock (and teammate Robert Hight)," Force said. "I thought he'd run .88 or something ā€“ he was trying. Our car went, it was really hunting down there. The front end was up and down three or four times, just trying to keep it on the ground and steering around, but made it to the lights."

If Force hangs on to the No. 1 spot Saturday, it would be the 158th of his career.

"Tomorrow's a new day, but I'm excited for my guys," Force said. "I was hoping (daughter) Brittany (Force) would get it (in Top Fuel) just so we could celebrate tonight a little bit. But it's a good race car, I'm really proud to drive it. Iā€™m learning about it, and at my age, I thought I knew everything. After watching how (daughter) Courtney performed in that car last year, I've got a lot of work to do to even get in her ballgame. We'll see where it goes."