MADISON, Ill. – Courtney Force raced to the provisional qualifying lead in the Funny Car class on Friday night at the seventh annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Clay Millican (Top Fuel), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also provisional No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the second of six playoff events during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.
Force is aiming for her 12th No. 1 qualifier of the season after her second qualifying run of 3.881 seconds at 331.04 mph in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS.
“We didn’t have the greatest run during Q1 and dropped some holes,” Force stated. “Since we were one of the first cars out for Q2 we showed what the track was capable of. Laying down that number I wasn’t sure it was going to hold. I thought there were going to be other teams that got around us during Q2. Looking forward to tomorrow and hoping that we can hold onto it.”
Ron Capps is second after the first day of qualifying, going 3.909 seconds at 323.89 mph in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T, while Bob Tasca III’s run of 3.915 seconds at 320.58 mph has him in third. Points leader J.R. Todd went 3.928 seconds at 323.66 mph in his DHL Toyota Camry, putting him seventh.
Top Fuel’s Millican will look to secure his ninth No. 1 qualifier of the year following his pass of 3.692 seconds at 329.83 mph in his Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster. It would also mark the 19th career No. 1 qualifier for Millican, who is tied for second in the points standings.
“What this team is doing right now is incredible,” Millican said. “We’ve got a really great race car and great group of guys putting everything together. The cool thing about being at the back of the line is that we’re able to tune the car according to what everyone else has done and be able to fight for those bonus points.”
Points leader Steve Torrence sits in the second spot after Friday’s two qualifying sessions with a run of 3.717 seconds at 326.48 mph in his Capco Contractors/Torrence Racing dragster and his father, Billy Torrence, is third after his pass of 3.735 seconds at 328.06 mph.
In Pro Stock, Coughlin took the lead during the second qualifying session with his pass of 6.516 seconds at 210.54 mph in his JEGS.com/Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaros. It would mark his third No. 1 qualifier this season and 26th of his career, who is currently seeded No. 6 in the points.
“As the night came in and the track got cooler, the Pro Stock cars really thrived on that,” Coughlin Jr. said. “Ricky Jones (crew chief) was able to get really aggressive with it and he said that before we went up that this was probably the most aggressive he had been. The car felt amazing and was traveling extremely well.”
Krawiec, the defending Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion and current points leader, finished atop the qualifying order in Pro Stock Motorcycle with a 6.820-second pass at 195.56 mph on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. He is chasing his third No. 1 qualifier of the season and third of his career at Gateway Motorsports Park.
“This sets our tone for the weekend,” Krawiec stated. “It lets us know that we’re in the field no matter what happens. More importantly it allows us to come out here and try things because now we have a good base line.”
Teammate Andrew Hines is second after going 6.835 seconds at 195.34 mph on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson and Chip Ellis follows in third with a run of 6.845 seconds at 192.93 mph.