COMMERCE, Ga. – Courtney Force rose late to lock down the No. 1 qualifying spot in Funny Car on Saturday during the NHRA Southern Nationals powered by Mello Yello at Atlanta Dragway.
Clay Millican (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the seventh of 24 events on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
Force took her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro to a pass of 3.932-seconds at 324.51 mph during the final round of qualifying for the No. 1 position.
This is her fourth No. 1 qualifier of the year and second straight at Atlanta.
“To be honest, I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to improve after yesterday,” Force said. “Coming out today we had some cloud cover which was great and laid down some numbers. I’m proud of my team and crew chiefs, [Brian] Corradi and [Dan] Hood, for laying it down on that last run. It feels good on the last run to get it fixed up and to go to the top spot like that.”
Force will face Jeff Diehl in round one of eliminations on Sunday.
Teammate Robert Hight locked-in the No. 2 spot after a 3.952 at 327.59 run in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro. Tommy Johnson Jr. is seeded third.
Millican’s second qualifying pass of 3.758 at 331.12 in his Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster stood through two sessions on Saturday to give him the No. 1 Top Fuel spot.
This is Millican’s third No. 1 qualifier of the season and the 13th of his career. He will chase his first Atlanta Dragway victory on Sunday.
“We held in there and got the green hat,” Millican said. “We are definitely looking for the yellow hat tomorrow. We went out this morning and made a nice solid run and Brittany [Force] was knocking on the door of taking the No. 1 spot away.”
Millican will face-off against Audrey Worm Sunday morning in the first round.
Defending world champion Brittany Force sits in the No. 2 position with a pass of 3.760 at 324.28 in her Monster Energy dragster. Points leader Steve Torrence is third.
Anderson remained atop the field on Saturday, thanks to his pass of 6.586 at 209.69 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro set in the second qualifying session on Friday.
The four-time Pro Stock world champion is still looking for his first win of the season and 91st of his career.
“I still have a very fast and very consistent race car,” Anderson said. “Glad to be No. 1 to set the field for tomorrow. I desperately need a good race day, but I feel positive that we’ve learned a lot about the race track over the weekend. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Anderson will race Val Smeland in the first round of eliminations.
Drew Skillman powered his Ray Skillman Chevrolet Camaro to the No. 2 spot with his pass of 6.591 at 209.52 and will face Wally Stroupe.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana Jr. raced to the top of the two-wheeled category during the third round of qualifying with his pass of 6.806 at 198.76 on his Lucas Oil TV EBR.
Saturday marked his first No. 1 qualifier of the season and the 20th of his career.
“We know we have fast motorcycles,” Arana Jr. said. “We’ve been making great horsepower but have been struggling leaving the starting line. Come Q3 though, it [the bike] was dialed in and the numbers showed.”
Arana Jr. will line up against Ryan Oehler on Sunday morning. His father, Hector Arana, took the No. 2 position, giving the father-son duo their first one-two sweep in qualifying since 2012.