Two-time Funny Car world champ Matt Hagan reset both ends of the zMAX Dragway track record in racing to the qualifying lead Friday in a rain-shortened day of action at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.
Teams were only able to get in one of the two scheduled qualifying sessions before persistent rain moved into the area late in the afternoon. Qualifying will continue Saturday with sessions scheduled for 2 and 4 p.m. Sunday’s finals are set to begin at noon.
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were qualifying leaders.
Hagan powered his Dodge Charger to the qualifying lead in Funny Car with a track-record performance of 3.941 seconds at 323.50 mph.
He held off his arch-rival, 16-time Funny Car world champion John Force, for the top spot. Force qualified second with a 3.946 at 323.50 in his Chevy Camaro. Both drivers are past winners of the event.
“We needed that for our team, for (crew chief) Dickie Venables, for everybody that’s been digging deep, working hard, trying to figure this stuff out,” said Hagan, who has three first-round losses in four events this year. “That was one good run.”
Past Four-Wide Nationals No. 1 qualifier and finalist Chad Head was third in his Toyota Camry with a 3.967 at 315.49 and Ron Capps rebounded from failing to qualify at Las Vegas by qualifying fourth in his Dodge with a 3.986 at 319.67. Las Vegas winner Alexis DeJoria is fifth in her Camry with a 4.005 at 310.98. Her Kalitta Motorsports teammate, defending world champ Del Worsham, anchors the 12th spot in his Camry.
Torrence, who won the season-opening NHRA Winternationals in Southern California but has struggled on race day in the past three events, paced the Top Fuel category with a 3.736 at 326.48 in his Capco Contractors dragster.
“We’ve had a really good car all season long but we’ve had three first round losses in a row and sort of stumped our toe,” he said. “The same thing happened in Las Vegas (two weeks ago), we had an awesome car in qualifying and the track conditions changed and it bit us in the first round. The car has run unbelievable. That gives you a huge vote of confidence going into the next qualifying round and ultimately sets up the weekend for what you can build off of a lot better.”
Series points leader Brittany Force was second, posting a 3.771 at 319.90. Gatornationals runner-up Terry McMillen qualified third with a 3.833 at 314.17 and defending world champ Antron Brown completed the top five with a 3.838 at 315.49.
In Pro Stock, local favorite Anderson, who lives in nearby Mooresville, kept his early-season momentum going by racing to the top of the order with a 6.577 at 209.65 in his Chevy Camaro. A four-time world champ, he has won two races this season in the new-look Pro Stock class, which features electronic fuel injection, flat hoods, shorter wheelie-bars and a 10,500 RPM rev-limiter.
“Honestly it looked bleak today with the forecast and we were thankful to get in one round,” said Anderson, a two-time winner of the Four-Wide Nationals. “We got some intel today. It has become very clear that the pack has made some gains. Now it’s time to get back to work and find some more performance for tomorrow to try and hang on to No. 1. The good news is we have great weather for the rest of the weekend. The track is perfect and we can tune ‘em up and try to run better tomorrow.”
Last year’s top rookie Drew Skillman was second with a 6.583 at 209.72 in his Chevy Camaro and points leader Jason Line is third with a 6.585 at 209.10 in his Camaro. Defending world champ Erica Enders sits eighth in her Dodge Dart with a 6.644 at 207.08.
Three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ Krawiec was quickest in the two-wheel category, riding his Harley-Davidson to a 6.818 at 192.85.
“It made an awesome run,” Krawiec said. “Crew chief Matt (Hines) made all the right decisions and it ran killer to the first 60-foot and the track was good. In our quad we had four guys all go 80s. It’s really neat when you have that and it worked out with all the reaction times being close. So it probably was some neat finish line stuff for a picture. The end result was my Harley went 6.81. It was an awesome lap and I am looking forward to” Saturday.
Louisiana alligator farmer Jerry Savoie is second on his Suzuki with a 6.841 at 197.62 and two-time reigning Four-Wide Nationals winner Andrew Hines is third on his Harley-Davidson with a 6.851 at 192.77.
Want To Go?
Saturday: Gates open at 8:30 a.m., with first sessions of pro qualifying at 1:15 p.m. Sunday: Gates open at 9 a.m., with eliminations starting at noon.
Admission: Daily adults tickets are $48-$64 for Saturday and Sunday.