Robert Hight hung on to the No. 1 qualifier position in Funny Car at Heartland Motorsports Park, earning his 80th career top spot on Saturday at the Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor.
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel) and Dallas Glenn (Pro Stock) also qualified No. 1 at the 13th of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
Hight’s strong run of 3.948-seconds at 321.19 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Cornwell Tools/AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS from Friday held up, handing the multi-time world champ his third No. 1 qualifier this season and a remarkable 80th in his standout career. Hight also made a strong run to close out qualifying on Saturday as he looks for his third win of the 2023 season. Currently fourth in points, Hight has his sights on a major move over the next three races and he’ll open eliminations on Sunday against Jack Wyatt.
“That 80 is a big number, it shows I’ve been doing it a long time, but it also shows I’ve had great teams behind me,” Hight said. “You’re not No. 1 qualifier without a really good racecar. This is a tribute to all the good people I’ve worked with. This is big for us. I think we’re turning a corner with this new combination; it’s starting to respond. Jimmy [Prock, crew chief] was happy.
“It’s not too late to get back in this points deal and leave Indy with the No. 1 spot. It can happen. Points and a half at Indy, we do good here, do good at Brainerd, we’re right back in the thick of things. That’s our mindset.”
Defending and back-to-back world champ Ron Capps took second in qualifying with a 3.950 at 314.17 and Matt Hagan’s 3.960 at 318.24 put him third.
A host of competitors came close, but Steve Torrence claimed his first No. 1 qualifier of the season thanks to Friday’s run of 3.764-seconds at 326.24 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors/Toyota dragster. He nearly topped it in his final run of the day where Torrence went 3.767 and Leah Pruett made a huge jump with her pass of 3.768, but the Texan hung on for his 35th career top spot. He’ll open eliminations against Terry Totten, trying to pick up his second win in three races and possibly move into the points lead in the process.
“This morning I felt safe. The conditions have changed and evolved to cloudy and cool,” Torrence said. “The big thing is, picking up bonus points throughout the rounds, that’s key, that’s crucial. We need to pick up those points. I’ve won a championship by less than two or three points. It’ll be a big deal at the end. Consistency wins races and championships, and that, along with being quick, is what we pride ourselves in. We’re going to do the best we can to keep this up.”
Pruett’s 3.768 at 325.77 put her second in qualifying, while Doug Kalitta went to third with a 3.799 at 316.45.
Topeka continues to be very good for Pro Stock points leader Dallas Glenn, who turned in a terrific Saturday with two strong runs, including a 6.642 at 205.26 in his RAD Torque Systems to close out the day and give Glenn his second No. 1 spot this season. Glenn tied KB Titan Racing teammate Greg Anderson earlier in the day with a run of 6.653 and 205.66, and Anderson made an impressive pass of 6.645 at 205.79 in the final session. But Glenn responded with his run to move to the No. 1 spot for the fourth time in his career. He’ll open eliminations against Fernando Cuadra Sr., looking for his fourth win in 2023.
“As a driver, you cannot make any mistakes,” Glenn said. “If you miss one shift, you can fall back four or five spots, just that easy. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it’s probably two-hundredths between No. 1 through No. 9. It’s going to be a really tight field and a really tough Sunday, and we’ve got a lot different weather rolling in for tomorrow so that’s going to throw an extra variable into the mix, but I think we have a really good car for them.”
Anderson took the second spot after making three stellar runs during qualifying, while Matt Hartford claimed third with a 6.657 at 206.23.
Eliminations for the Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor begin at 10 a.m. CT on Sunday at Heartland Motorsports Park.