Rain Cuts NHRA Keystone Nationals Qualifying to One Session; Fields Set
Brittany Force ran career-best numbers to claim the No. 1 qualifier in Top Fuel at the NHRA Keystone Nationals.
Robert Hight (Funny Car), Drew Skillman (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) will also start in the top spot in their respective categories at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event in eastern Pennsylvania.
NHRA officials were forced to cancel the second session of qualifying on Saturday due to persistent showers. Sunday’s eliminations are still scheduled for 11 a.m.
Force recorded a 3.725-second pass at 331.53 mph in her Monster Energy dragster. The run gives Force her first No. 1 qualifying effort of the season and fourth of her career. She will race fellow Countdown contender Dave Connolly in the first round. Force, who reached the finals last season at Maple Grove Raceway, is searching for her first career victory.
“It’s definitely tough going into tomorrow with one run,” said Force, who entered this weekend fourth in points. “We put down an awesome run that I wasn’t expecting. We drove right through the conditions and put an awesome number on the run. I thought we were going to struggle. Our last record was here to so we obviously like Reading.”
Leah Pritchett drove her Sparkling Ice dragster to the No. 2 qualifying position following a 3.787 at 320.74. She will face Shawn Langdon in round one. Clay Millican qualified third in the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster and will matchup with Countdown contender and current points leader Antron Brown. Countdown contenders Tony Schumacher and Richie Crampton will start as the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds.
In Funny Car, Hight drove his Auto Club Chevy Camaro SS to a 3.922 at 329.34, both track records. Hight, the 2009 world champ, earned his first No. 1 qualifier of the season, first at Maple Grove Raceway and 47th of his career. He will open eliminations against John Hale.
“You don’t get a lot of chances to run under conditions like this,” said Hight, the 2011 Reading winner. “It was kind of like the perfect storm. We hit everything just right. It’s what you have to do to have a run like that.”
Ron Capps drove his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T to the No. 2 qualifying positon after a 4.218 at 318.17. Capps, who is searching for his first Reading win in his illustrious career, battles Paul Lee in the first round.
2012 world champ Jack Beckman qualified his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T in third, setting up a first round battle with fellow Countdown contender Alexis DeJoria. Countdown contenders Tim Wilkerson and Matt Hagan will begin Sunday as the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds. Current points leader Del Worsham qualified sixth.
Skillman claimed the No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock following his 6.509 at 213.13 in a Chevy Camaro. The run gives him his second career No. 1 qualifying effort of his career. Skillman, who earned his first career win at the most recent event in St. Louis, races V Gaines in the first round.
“As long as we have a little sun to put a little heat in the track, we will be fine,” said Skillman about conditions for tomorrow. “They will be able to work on the track tomorrow and we will be fine. They [NHRA Safety Safari] fought it all day long. It’s just the conditions we’re in.”
Chris McGaha qualified in the second position with a 6.514 at 213.03 in the Harlow Sammons Racing Chevy Camaro. McGaha, a two-time season winner, faces Val Smeland in the first round.
Bo Butner continued his strong recent qualifying efforts with the No. 3 starting position and a first round matchup with Alan Prusiensky. Four-time world champ Greg Anderson starts fourth while teammate and two-time world champ Jason Line starts fifth.
Defending world champ and current points leader Erica Enders is qualified sixth.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec earned his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season after riding his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a 6.802 at 193.60. Krawiec, a three-time world champ, now has 27 career top qualifying efforts and two at Reading. He will race Brian Pretzel in the first round.
“I think the encouraging part is that the bikes left the starting line,” said Krawiec, a three-time Reading winner. “With this weather and these conditions, that’s the tough part. In these conditions, you are prone to shaking. Mine was actually a controlled and smooth run.”
Fellow Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson rider Andrew Hines qualified second after a 6.816 at 193.16. Hines, a four-time world champ and the current points leader, looks for his second Reading victory as he opens eliminations with Chaz Kennedy.
Matt Smith qualified third on his Nitro Fish Victory Gunner and will race fellow Countdown competitior Jim Underdahl in round one. Scotty Pollacheck and Steve Johnson qualified fourth and fifth respectively.