There are some powerhouse names wearing the yellow hats after the final round of qualifying for the 68th running of the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Brittany Force and the Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac Chevrolet dragster took the No. 1 qualifying position at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals in dramatic fashion Sunday at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. Robert Hight and the Automobile Club of Southern California Chevy Camaro SS will start race day from No. 2 while John Force and the PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Chevy will start from No. 4 and Austin Prock put the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist dragster into the No. 14 spot.
In a bit of a redemption run after struggling through the first two qualifying sessions and coming up short in the Pep Boys Callout final round, Brittany Force and the Monster Energy team set both ends of the track record with a stellar 3.640-second pass at 337.75 mph to take over the No. 1 spot. Their efforts would tie them for the fourth fastest in NHRA Top Fuel history. Force now owns nine of the top 10 and has run 337.75 mph four times.
This is Force and the Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac team’s seventh No.1. of the season, Force’s 29th of her career and her third at Indianapolis Raceway Park. With rain cancelling the completion of the fifth qualifying session, Force will be matched with Dan Mercier in the first round.
“Definitely a big one for this Monster Energy team, everyone top to bottom, David Grubnic and Mac Savage and all the Monster Energy boys. This is the biggest race of the season, it’s the one race everyone wants to win. There’s extra motivation coming into it. It’s Indy and everyone wants to accomplish something here,” Force said. “That was a killer run. Especially since we struggled every lap and then we finally got it figured out. It was outstanding. Then for it to be part of the quickest field in NHRA history and to be part of that with 25 cars is pretty incredible. That’s history and we want to leave our mark so to come here to Indy and take that No. 1, we’re just excited. It’s already been a long weekend so tomorrow we’re taking it one run at a time. Everybody has to be dialed in and we’re planning to deliver.”
In addition to securing his first NHRA U.S. Nationals Funny Car pole, Ron Capps defeated Matt Hagan in the final round of the inaugural Pep Boys All-Star Call Out race on Sunday evening at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Aboard the NAPA AutoCare Toyota GR Supra, Capps clocked a 3.936-second at 330.47-mph pass to outpace Hagan and claim the $80,000 cash prize.
“To earn the pole, that’s great going into tomorrow to know that we have it and know we have lane choice, but it’s just another day. I’ve been hearing from years from the media ‘when are you going to win the U.S. Nationals?’ and it’s getting monotonous. I’ve got such a great race car right now, but I’ve learned not to get ahead of myself, especially here, and last year was a perfect example of that. We’ll celebrate these wins tonight and get ready for tomorrow.”
The two-time event runner-up earned a total of eleven bonus points over the course of the weekend for his impressive qualifying performance and will square off against Dale Creasy Jr. in round one as he makes a bid for his first NHRA U.S. Nationals Wally trophy on Monday, and Ron Capps Motorsports’ third national event win.
In Pro Stock, Greg Anderson will again try to capture his 100th victory from the number 1 position. There is just a tenth of a second separating the entire Pro Stock field from Greg Anderson’s 6.567 to Fernando Cuada Sr’s 6.661 making the Indy field not only quick, but also very competitive. Anderson has been the performance leader since taking the top spot on Saturday, and he’s going to lead the field into eliminations for the third time this season and 121st time in his career, which now spans 510 events.
“It’s just nice to have a race car that can win again,” said Anderson, who has won Indy six times, but hasn’t won since 2011. “We were not up to par for the first 8-10 races but we’re back. We’re climbing the ladder and we know that we can win again. Now, we just need to put it all together on Monday. The driver has to have his act together and do a good job. Everyone in this class is a killer; I’ve got two or three guys in my pits that can go .00 almost any time.
Anderson has a very slight lead over teammate Dallas Glenn, who ran 6.578 and defending Indy winner Erica Enders, who will start from the No. 3 spot following a 6.582 in her Melling/Elite Camaro. Anderson races Cuadra Sr., while Glenn is paired against Kenny Delco while enders faces a tough draw against Mason McGaha, who has handed Enders two of her six losses this season.
Finally, in Pro Stock Motorcycle, it's Angelle Sampey starting from the top of the ladder.
Sampey ran a 6.798 on Saturday and she remains the only Pro Stock Motorcycle rider in the 6.7s with her Vance & Hines/Mission Foods Suzuki. Sampey is already a two-time Indy winner, but looking at the bigger picture, she wants to win a third title in order to secure her spot in the upcoming Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Sampey came into the “Big Go” as the No. 2 seed in the class, just 64 points behind leader Joey Gladstone. With a structure that awards points-and-a-half at Indy, she’s got a reasonable chance to take the lead.
Sampey has qualified lower than fourth just once this season and she’s now led the field four time this season and 57 in her career. Moreover, she’s been the top qualifier seven times at the Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals. Sampey will begin her quest for career win No. 47 with a round one race against Ron Tornow, who is on the bump at 6.945.
“It’s amazing to think I’ve been low qualifier here seven times but that’s my favorite number,” Sampey said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have good people and good teams for my entire career, especially my current Vance & Hines team. I know it’s expected for me to do well, and I put a lot of pressure on myself and I’m hard on myself when I don’t do well. I know that Matt [Smith] will be gunning for me tomorrow and the same goes for the rest of the field. I just need to focus.
Sampey will have a shot to take over the points lead since she has a possible quarterfinal match against current leader Joey Gladstone, who finished in the No. 8 position and races Karen Stoffer in round one. For the most part, the field was set on Saturday night as Sunday’s conditions did not allow for much shuffling within the qualifying order. One rider who did improve on Q5 was Hector Arana Jr., who rode his Buell V-twin to a 6.873, bettering his earlier 6.884. Arana Jr will take on Marc Ingwersen in Monday’s opening round.
Competition at the prestigious U.S. Nationals continues with eliminations Monday at 10 a.m. Television coverage of qualifying and the Pep Boys NHRA Funny Car All-Star Callout will be on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) with shows Sunday at 1, 4 and 5:30 p.m. ET. Eliminations coverage will be split with a show at noon ET on FS1 and then 2 p.m. ET on FOX Broadcasting Network.
Check out the recap from nhra.com:
See Sunday's photo gallery from NHRA National Dragster staff:
Photo: NHRA / RPM