CHANDLER, Ariz. — Tommy Johnson Jr. set the Funny Car track elapsed-time record to secure the No. 1 qualifier position at the 33rd annual NHRA Arizona Nationals on Saturday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.
Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) were also No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the second of 24 events on the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
Johnson powered his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T to a 3.837-second pass at 329.10 mph during the final qualifying session for the 15th No. 1 qualifier of his career.
“We did some things on that run that we wouldn’t normally do,” Johnson said. “It definitely worked. We knew the conditions were good. I could tell during the run that the car was a bunch better. You could feel it in there that it pulled really well early in the run so I knew it was a good one. We went up with no expectations but I felt pretty confident going in there. (Crew chief John Collins) saw something in there that he wanted to try.”
Johnson will race Phil Burkhart Jr. in the opening round of eliminations on Sunday. Courtney Force qualified second with a 3.838 at 332.67 in her Advanced Auto Parts Chevy Camaro and will line up against Jim Campbell and reigning world champion Ron Capps is third in the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T.
Pritchett held onto the top spot in Top Fuel with her national record run on Friday. The 3.658 pass at 329.34 in her Papa John’s Pizza dragster is her third career No. 1 qualifying pass, second this season.
“We are still figuring this race car out,” Pritchett said. “It seems like we have it under control from the numbers that we lay down. But we’re starting to get outside that box a little bit to see how big our window is. My main focus as a driver has been to be 100% dead straight, dead square because if this car washes out I’m not going to be able to steer it or get it down the track.”
Three-time and defending world champion Antron Brown is qualified second with a 3.667 run at 328.78 in his Matco Tools dragster and will face Steve Chrisman in the first round and eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher is third with the U.S. Army dragster.
In Pro Stock, Line earned the 51st No. 1 qualifier of his career with a 6.509 pass at 212.19 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro during qualifying on Friday.
“It was a good time Friday and we didn’t feel like anyone was going to go faster than that,” Line said. “It was a time to try to learn some new stuff and try to get ready for tomorrow (Sunday). The track is good when it is cold, and you will see some really good racing tomorrow.”
Line will match up against Val Smeland in the first round of eliminations. Summit Racing Equipment teammate Greg Anderson is in second and will face Kenny Delco and rookie Tanner Gray remained third in his Gray Motorsports Valvoline Chevy Camaro.