CONCORD, N.C. – Brittany Force and Courtney Force earned the No. 1 qualifying positions in their respective divisions for the NGK Spark Plugs NHRA 4-Wide Nationals on Saturday afternoon at zMAX Dragway.
It’s the second time in NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series competition that the Force sisters have both earned No. 1 qualifying positions on the same race weekend. It previously happened at Heartland Park Topeka in 2016.
Drew Skillman (Pro Stock) and L.E. Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also earned the top qualifying positions in their respective categories ahead of eliminations on Sunday.
Brittany Force’s best effort from the second qualifying session on Friday, a 3.689-second run at 318.39 mph, was enough to keep her at the top of the Top Fuel heap during Saturday’s two qualifying sessions. Tony Schumacher held on to second while Antron Brown qualified third.
The No. 1 qualifying position for Brittany Force comes one week after she drove a new car to victory at the most recent event at Royal Purple Raceway in Texas. She’s driving the same car this weekend at zMAX Dragway.
“We’re feeling really good,” Brittany Force said. “We went out the first weekend with it (the new car) when we debuted it and won the race. That’s pretty impressive. So I owe it to Alan Johnson, Brian Husen and my Monster guys for making that happen.
“We’re on a roll. I’m happy that we qualified No. 1 last night and we hung on to that spot today, but tomorrow is a whole new day and our plan is to go some rounds and win the thing.”
Brittany Force, the reigning Top Fuel world champion, will race Audrey Worm, Shawn Reed and Scott Palmer during the first round of eliminations on Sunday.
Terry Haddock was the lone driver who failed to qualify for the 16-car Top Fuel field.
Courtney Force notched her third No. 1 qualifier of the young season thanks to her 3.873-second run at 332.92 mph. Her best time came during Friday’s first qualifying session and nobody was able to beat it Saturday in the heat of the day.
She noted that her team will need to take everything they learned during the last two days of qualifying and learn from it if they have any hope of winning Sunday afternoon.
“It’s going to take learning from our runs in the heat today and our runs from yesterday and just kind of put it all together,” Courtney Force said. “I think it’s going to cool off quite a bit so hopefully the runs tomorrow will be a little bit more comparable to the Friday runs that we had.
“We’re looking for a good day tomorrow and hopefully a long one. We’ve been the No. 1 qualifier here at zMAX Dragway for the 4-Wide, but I would like to take home a win. We have yet to win a four-wide race.”
Courtney Force will face Jim Campbell, her father John Force and Tim Wilkerson in the first round of eliminations.
Jeff Diehl was the lone driver who failed to qualify for Sunday’s elimination rounds in the Funny Car class.
Skillman’s 6.534-second pass at 210.37 mph from the second round of qualifying on Friday held up on Saturday, earning him his first No. 1 qualifier of the year in the Pro Stock class. Greg Anderson qualified second fastest with a 6.548-second run with Vincent Nobile next in third.
Skillman will line up against Val Smeland, Erica Enders and Jason Line during the opening round of eliminations on Sunday.
Wally Stroupe and Tommy Lee were the two drivers who failed to qualify for the Pro Stock field.
Tonglet, making his return to White Alligator Racing, snatched the No. 1 position in Pro Stock Motorcycle during the third qualifying session of the weekend thanks to a 6.812-second run at 196.99 mph. Eddie Krawiec qualified second with a 6.814-second run while Scotty Pollacheck qualified third.
Tonglet, who was the only one of the No. 1 qualifiers to earn the top spot with their time on Saturday, will face teammate Jerry Savoie, Jim Underdahl and Hector Arana Jr. in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.
Mark Paquette, Scott Bottorff, Kelly Clontz, Lance Bonham and Melissa Surber failed to qualify in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class.