TORRENCE AND TASCA LIGHT UP THE NIGHT IN FIRST DAY NHRA U.S. NATIONALS QUALIFYING
Four-time Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence dominated the first day qualifying at the 69th annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals on Friday at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Joining Torrence atop their respective divisions were Bob Tasca III (Funny Car), Matt Hartford (Pro Stock), and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
Torrence raced to the provisional No. 1 position with a quick run of 3.708 seconds at 329.42 mph in his powerful Capco Contractors dragster. If his performance holds, Torrence will secure his second No. 1 qualifier of the season and 36th in his career. He is aiming for his third overall win at The Big Go, the world's biggest drag race.
"This is a huge confidence builder," Torrence said. "You have to come to Indy and be ready to endure it, and today is the longest day. Everybody likes to see these things at night and the fire coming out of them. It's just exciting, and it adds a different element to it. We all say we're riding on fire-breathing dragons, but until the nighttime, you don't get to see it."
Tasca III continued his strong performance this summer by securing the provisional No. 1 spot. Tasca powered his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang to a run of 3.864 at 324.90. If he maintains his position, Tasca will earn his fifth No. 1 qualifier of the season. He currently sits fourth in points and has a chance to move up to third with a strong weekend.
"I give all the credit to the guys; we worked really hard on Monday at Brainerd testing some things we felt we needed to change, and you saw some of that tonight," Tasca said. "It felt so good, it sounded good, it was smooth, and I came back to the guys, and I said, 'When you pull it up on the computer, you're going to smile.'"
Hartford made a strong first-day impression by taking the provisional No. 1 spot with a run of 6.569 at 209.23 in his Total Seal Chevrolet Camaro. This puts Hartford in line for his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season. Despite struggling in recent races, Hartford is determined to make a comeback at the U.S. Nationals.
"It's running pretty good right now... It's up to me to drive well because we know we've got power," Hartford said.
Herrera continued his dominant season by setting an impressive Pro Stock Motorcycle track record. Herrera, the current points leader, raced his Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki to a blistering run of 6.746 at 198.96. If he maintains his performance, Herrera will secure his eighth No. 1 qualifier in nine races.
The magnitude of The Big Go is not lost on Herrera, who aims to add another spectacular moment to his successful 2023 campaign.
"That 6.74 was a perfect run for us, for the team," Hartford said. "The guys at the shop have put in countless hours, and that pass right there showed it... Everything has been going smooth as can be. We're here at Indy. This is where I made my debut last year, so it's kind of got a special feeling to me."
The qualifying rounds will continue on Saturday at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.