The 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continued Saturday as Steve Torrence held on to the Top Fuel No. 1 qualifying position at the 21st annual JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.
Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also qualified first in their respective categories at the ninth of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
Torrence remained in the top spot after setting both ends of the track record with a pass of 3.677-seconds at 333.58 mph in his Capco Contractors dragster during the second qualifying pass on Friday. The defending event winner and current Top Fuel points leader recorded his first No. 1 qualifier on the season, as he looks to build upon his category-best three victories this season.
“Yesterday had some pretty optimal conditions which allowed for us to have that strong run, but it is definitely a huge confidence booster to go into race day knowing my team has a strong handle on the tune-up,” Torrence said. “I think we are getting really close to having the most consistent car we have ever had, and it’s fun to be driving this racecar right now.”
Torrence will take on Luigi Novelli in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.
The defending Top Fuel world champion Brittany Force qualified second for the weekend with a 3.721 at 329.34 in her Advance Auto Parts/Monster Energy dragster on Friday, as she will face off against Kyle Wurtzel in eliminations.
Hagan stayed atop the Funny Car class with a run of 3.917 at 326.79 in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T recorded during his second qualifying pass on Friday. The two-time world champion locked in his second No. 1 qualifier of the season and first since the season-opening event in Pomona, where he also earned his lone victory on the year.
“We’ve had to regroup this season and make some wholesale changes, and even though it’s taken some time to get here but I feel like our car is running strong now,” Hagan said. “Our confidence has definitely grown, and we are blessed to have that No. 1 qualifier heading into race day.”
Hagan faces off with Jonnie Lindberg in the elimination round. Hagan’s teammate Ron Capps qualified second and matches up with Justin Schriefer for Sunday’s first round of eliminations.
Anderson held onto the top spot in Pro Stock after driving to a 6.546 at 211.03 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro during the second round of qualifying on Friday night. He now has 98 career No. 1 qualifiers and five this season, the most in the class.
“To have 98 career No. 1 qualifiers is quite a feather in the cap for this whole KB Racing Team, and to have low E.T. of every session this weekend is a good feeling going into Sunday,” Anderson said. “I’ve had a great qualifying car all year so far but we haven’t been able to get it done on Sunday, which we will try to change tomorrow.”
Anderson will go head-to-head with David River in the elimination round. Tanner Gray remained in second after his 6.556 at 210.18 from Friday, as he prepares for Wally Stroupe in the first round.
The Pro Stock Motorcycle class was once again led by Andrew Hines, who used a 6.849 at 194.83 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson in the final pass of the day to reclaim the top spot.
“We had a really good motorcycle today and this track is really good for us, but all-in-all my team is doing a great job and we are all feeling good about racing here tomorrow,” Hines said. “We threw everything we could at the track today, but it all worked out and it’s nice to get down the track so quick.”
Hines will line up against Cory Reed in the first round.
Hector Arana Jr. secured the second qualifying spot after a 6.852 at 197.45 in the final qualifying pass on Saturday, as he prepares for Marc Ingwersen on Sunday.
Eliminations begin at 12 p.m. EST on Sunday at Route 66 Raceway.