Johnson Leads Top Qualifiers For U.S. Nationals

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Tommy Johnson Jr. topped Funny Car qualifying for the U.S. Nationals on Saturday at Lucas Oil Raceway. (Kent Steele Photo)
Tommy Johnson Jr. topped Funny Car qualifying for the U.S. Nationals on Saturday at Lucas Oil Raceway. (Kent Steele Photo)

CLERMONT, Ind. – Tommy Johnson Jr. continued to flex his muscle by securing the No. 1 qualifier position in the Funny Car class for the DENSO Spark Plugs U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis on Saturday.

It is Johnson’s third No. 1 qualifier in the four races since the NHRA resumed its season in July.

Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Pollacheck (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also finished as the No. 1 qualifiers at the U.S. Nationals Saturday.

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In Funny Car qualifying, Johnson stayed red-hot at Lucas Oil Raceway thanks to a 3.878-second pass at 326.40 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Riley Kids Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. It gives Johnson, who is seeking his second win of the season, his 21st No. 1 qualifier. He’ll race Dale Creasy Jr. to open eliminations.

Ron Capps, who won the most recent event, qualified second with a 3.881-second pass at 327.19 mph and Tim Wilkerson is third.

“The guys went for it,” Johnson said. “The sun started to set, it got a little darker and it was cooling down. I could feeling it cooling down and I knew we were going for it. It laid me back in the seat and I thought, ‘This thing is trucking.’ I saw the time and I knew we were going for it. We had to keep our streak going.”

Langdon’s 3.728-second pass at 313.22 mph from Friday in his 11,000-horsepower DHL dragster held up, giving the him his first No. 1 qualifier of the season and 19th in his career. He’ll start raceday against Joey Haas. Steve Torrence qualified second with a 3.731-second run at 325.06 mph and Clay Millican will start eliminations from third.

“The car is fast and the guys have just done a great job,” Langdon said. “We’ve been working hard and doing some testing, and trying to get this car turned back around. I’m just glad we got everything back in sync in time. Every race we go to, we go to win, and we feel good about what we accomplished in qualifying. It always feels good to have a competitive car.

Anderson grabbed his 105th career No. 1 qualifier and first of the year in Pro Stock thanks to his impressive run of 6.549-second pass at 209.52 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro on Friday. Anderson will face off with Val Smeland to open eliminations as the four-time world champ will try for his seventh U.S. Nationals win and first victory of the year. Chris McGaha qualified second with a 6.553-second pass at 208.52 mph and Deric Kramer took the third spot thanks to a 6.570-second pass at 209.82 mph.

“Raceday success is huge for me and I need to make some serious hay tomorrow at Indy,” Anderson said. “I’ve dug myself a bit of a hole. I’ve said it before, I love coming to Indy and racing the U.S. Nationals. Everybody brings their best and it brings out the best in everyone. I’ve had a lot of success here and had a lot of great memories. My car was great in qualifying and I’m hoping for a big, big day tomorrow.”

Pollacheck suffered the red light in the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle, but he did take the No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock Motorcycle with his run of 6.789 seconds at 200.29 mph, breaking the track speed record on his Strutmasters.com EBR.

It gives Pollacheck his second No. 1 qualifier. He will face Michael Phillips to open race day. Eddie Krawiec qualified second with a 6.790-second pass at 199.76 mph and Matt Smith took the third spot.

“It’s been an awesome day, going 200 mph, getting the No. 1 spot and getting to race in the final round of the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle,” said Pollacheck, who also earned the fourth and final spot in the DENSO 200 mph club. “It’s already been an awesome weekend and this has been a really good day for us.”