LAS VEGAS (Oct. 29, 2022) – Robert Hight with the Automobile Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS and Brittany Force with the Flav-R-Pac / Monster Energy dragster secured the No. 1 qualifying positions in their respective categories Saturday at the NHRA Nevada Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Robert Hight and the Auto Club team would stumble in the third session smoking the tires for only a 4.742-second pass at 168.83 mph. The Auto Club Chevy bounced back with a 3.865 at 332.67 in the fourth qualifying session to earn two bonus points for being second quickest of the group. With the No. 1 spot, Hight will take on Terry Haddock in the first round.
“I would say it was mission accomplished in qualifying this weekend. We came in with a 10-point lead and we’ve turned it into a 21-point lead just in qualifying. That’s a big deal,” Hight said. “We pushed it too hard earlier today and tonight we tried to run better than 3.85 but the clutch didn’t cooperate. But we’re splitting hairs really. If we can run in that range four times tomorrow, I think we’re going to be on top at the end of the day. We just need to keep focusing on the task at hand, I need to cut a good light and keep it in the groove and whatever happens, happens. We just have to do our best, that’s what’s got us here. Been doing it all year and we’ve mastered it so we just have to keep doing it.”
Brittany Force and the Flav-R-Pac dragster gathered another three bonus points with their 3.673-second pass at 334.57 mph on their third lap of qualifying. Force would stay consistent going 3.691 at 331.36 in the Flav-R-Pac’s final qualifying try. She’d was third quickest of the session and also earned one bonus point.
“Looking at our overall qualifying, this Flav-R-Pac team is in a great position with four solid passes. Overall fantastic for our team, we have four good runs to set us up for race day. It feels like we are back on track; grabbed No. 1spot, grabbed bonus points and the solid runs give the entire team confidence,” Force said. “Our car can get down the track, we did it four times and we’re looking for four more tomorrow. We get the first-round bye and that’s huge because we get to be on track and feel it out before heading into the second session with an opponent.”
Erica Enders rallied on Saturday to claim the top spot in Pro Stock as she looks to put the wraps on her fifth world championship.. Enders was second after Friday’s two runs but pushed her Melling/Elite Camaro to a 6.579 on Saturday morning to lock down the top spot and bag three more qualifying bonus points. With nine wins in 11 final rounds, Enders is enjoying the best season of her career and that success extends to qualifying where she has landed in the top spot six times this year.
“Even though we were No. 1, I feel like we were not exactly stellar this weekend,” said Enders. “I feel like we should have made better runs but I’m excited for race day. The rest of the field is nipping at our heels so it’s time to get busy and go to work. All these young guns in the class have pushed me all season long and we need to ride to the occasion.
“I know we’re in a great position to be in, but it’s not over yet,” Enders said. “If I get by the first round, there is a potential monster match-up with the winner of Greg Anderson and Dallas Glenn. I just want this [championship] to be over as soon as possible. My goal is to do a good job. I know I’m in a great position, but I still feel the pressure. It’s hard to explain that feeling in your gut. Sometimes you want to puke in the staging lanes but when you start the car it all goes away. Other than that championship, I’d still like to win 10 races and I’ve got two shots to do it.”
The Pro Stock Motorcycle field was extremely competitive with 20 bikes vying for 16 open spots and no one was quicker than Matt Smith, who moved one step closer to his record-tying sixth championship when he claimed the pole for the fifth time this season and 52nd time in his career, which now spans 296 events. Smith has run in the 6.7s at the last three events and that trend continued in Las Vegas as he rode to a 6.785 on his Denso Buell.
Smith, who also made the quickest run of the final session with a 6.818, will look to add to his impressive points total when he takes on Katie Justice in Sunday’s opening round of eliminations. Justice landed on the bump spot with a solid 6.957-second run on her Suzuki.
"I'm happy with everything but Q1 when we were too aggressive and spun the tire," said Smith. "We were quickest in Q2, Q3, and Q4. I've got a shot at a sixth title but we still have a lot of work to do tomorrow. If I just do my job I know we'll be just fine. I've had some people come up and tell me that Joey has conceded but I don't believe it. We all know how quickly things can change here.
"There as still a lot of really good bikes out here," Smith said. "There are seven or eight good bikes out here that can win the race. We got lucky and went to No. 1, but that doesn't mean too much tomorrow. We still need to turn on four win lights."
Competition at the NHRA Nevada Nationals continues with eliminations Sunday at 11:00A PT while Television coverage of the event will be on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). Tune in to FS1 for qualifying coverage at 9:30A ET & 12:30P ET on Sunday. Final Eliminations are set to air at 5P ET Sunday night on FS1.
See the recap by NHRA National Dragster staff:
Check out Saturday's photo gallery:
Tony Stewart makes it to the semi's in his debut, will race Sunday:
Content: John Force Racing PR / NHRA