HIGHT PUTS JOHN FORCE RACING ATOP U.S. NATIONALS FC FIELD; TORRENCE, HARTFORD HERRERA MAINTAIN TOP SPOTS
Robert Hight claimed the provisional No. 1 spot on Saturday during the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Steve Torrence, Matt Hartford, and Gaige Herrera also maintained their provisional No. 1 positions during the 15th race of the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.
Hight, behind the wheel of Cornwell Tools/AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS, clocked an impressive time of 3.853 seconds at 329.67 mph underneath the lights at The Big Go. Should this hold, Hight will celebrate his fourth No. 1 qualifier this season and the remarkable 81st of his career.
This performance provides the multi-time champion with significant momentum heading into Sunday’s Pep Boys NHRA Funny Car All-Star Callout.
“That was big. We stayed and tested Monday after Brainerd, and things went really well,” Hight said. “So far, our first three runs here have been pretty impressive. When the car responds to what Jimmy [Prock, crew chief] is doing and it runs what he says it’s going to run, you can’t be any more confident than that.”
Despite the formidable competition, Hight remains optimistic, underscoring the fine-tuning efforts of his team.
“They’re fine-tuning this thing right now; it’s not just ‘make a bunch of changes and see what sticks.’ They’re fine-tuning parts of the run, and that’s how you become consistent and win.”
In the specialty event, Hight eagerly selected back-to-back world champ Ron Capps for Sunday’s race, setting the stage for an intense showdown. Bob Tasca III picked John Force, Matt Hagan chose Tim Wilkerson, and Cruz Pedregon and Alexis DeJoria emerged as the final pairing.
Torrence maintained his Top Fuel dominance with a remarkable run of 3.708 seconds at 329.42 mph in his powerful Capco Contractors dragster on Friday.
Torrence is in pursuit of his second No. 1 qualifier of the season, which would mark the 36th of his career. With his sights set on his third overall win at The Big Go and his second victory in three years at the notorious event, Torrence faces stiff competition from defending world champion Brittany Force, who secured the second spot with a time of 3.709 seconds at 333.25 mph. Doug Kalitta remains in contention in the third spot following his run of 3.717 seconds at 328.54 mph on Friday.
Matt Hartford continued to assert his dominance in Pro Stock, holding on to the No. 1 spot with an impressive run of 6.569 seconds at 209.23 mph in his Total Seal Camaro. This performance marks his bid for a fourth top qualifier position this season. Hartford further displayed his prowess by posting the quickest run during Saturday’s session, as he remains focused on securing his first Indy triumph.
“We’re sitting potentially as the No. 1 qualifier at Indy,” Hartford said. “It’s a lifelong dream come true. There are two things that would make this season better: No. 1, to win the championship, and No. 2, to win Indy. Our goal is to go four rounds here on Monday and four rounds for every race in the Countdown and see where the points stack up.”
Troy Coughlin Jr. maintained his second position with a run of 6.570 seconds at 208.30 mph, while Aaron Stanfield remained in third with a time of 6.586 seconds at 208.39 mph.
Herrera, the current points leader, showcased his dominance with two strong runs, further solidifying his hold on the No. 1 spot. Although he didn’t surpass his outstanding track-record run of 6.746 seconds at 198.96 mph on Friday, Herrera’s performance makes it likely to secure his eighth No. 1 qualifier in nine races—an extraordinary feat given the fierce competition in the category.
“I was very pleased with that run, but I have to give all the credit to (crew chief) Andrew (Hines) and all the crew guys,” Herrera said. “Andrew has tons of data and all that, but he adjusts per the weather. It’s always last minute before we roll up. Andrew is finishing the final touches before the pass because he wants max performance on every pass.
“We’re off to a very good start, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next two days. Hopefully, it keeps going into Monday.”
Herrera’s teammate, Eddie Krawiec, stayed second with his 6.807 at 198.79 from Friday, and Hector Arana Jr. remained third after going 6.873 at 198.76.
Qualifying continues on Sunday at 12:15 p.m. ET at the 69th annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. The Pep Boys NHRA Funny Car All-Star Callout begins at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, with the semifinals at 3:20 p.m. and the finals at 5:15 p.m., with television coverage taking place from 4-5:30 ET on FOX.